Guides for Musicals, Plays, Operas & Operettas

Read expert-written show guides with context, plot, characters and video examples.

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Carmen

Famous for its use of Spanish dances, such as the and , Carmen has some of the most well-known music of the operatic canon.When the seductive Spanish gypsy, Carmen, shows an interest in Don José, he initially dismisses it, intending to honor his promise to the village girl Micaëla. There is some... read more

Antony and Cleopatra

Antony & Cleopatra concerns the scandalous affair between the Roman general Antony and the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Antony, a well-respected warrior and one of the three rulers of the Roman Empire, spends his time in Egypt cavorting with Cleopatra and living a life of decadence. Their blind pas... read more

Richard III

To what lengths will one man go to be king? Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, has his eye on the throne of England and desires all of the power it entails. However, his brother Edward is king, and there are several people--including his young nephew--in line for the monarchy before Richard can eve... read more

The Changeling

One of the finest examples of Jacobean tragedy, The Changeling explores honor and madness through its dual plots, one set in the world of nobility, and the other in a local asylum. But which is the real madhouse? Young Beatrice is in love with a visiting nobleman, Alsemero. However, her father ha... read more

Tis Pity She's a Whore

A brother and sister and their forbidden love - this is the premise of John Ford’s dark revenge tragedy ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Young Parman nobleman Giovanni is desperately in love with his sister Annabella, and is overjoyed when she reciprocates his feelings. But they know that their incestuou... read more

Dialogues des Carmélites

Set in the French Revolution, between the years 1789 and 1794, Poulenc’s tragic opera Dialogues des Carmélites tells the horrifying story of the martyring of the entire Carmélite order. Blanche, the daughter of the Chevalier de la Force, has had a tremendous fright, when she was caught up in a st... read more

Dido and Aeneas

Based on Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid, Dido and Aeneas is Purcell’s only true opera, and his first composition which was written to be sung throughout. Having its first performance at the Josias Priest’s Boarding School for Girls in 1687, it is the perfect opera for student casts, as many of the vo... read more

Il tabarro

Il tabarro is the first opera in Puccini’s Il trittico, which also comprises of and . The story is set on a barge on the river Seine in Paris and the music is continually intertwined with the atmosphere of a hot Paris evening, created by the organ-grinder, and a song vendor whose songs, particu... read more

Il Trovatore

A story of witchcraft, murder, and vengeance, the plot to Il Trovatore begins in the acts of the parents. A mother is burned at the stake for suspected witchcraft, and avenged by her daughter when she throws the child of her executioner into the fire. The child’s father seeks vengeance for the ac... read more

Norma

Set in Gaul, at the time of the Roman occupation, Norma is the story of a virgin druid priestess who falls in love with a Roman, leading her to break her vows and betray her faith. Although they have two sons together and Norma is continually threatened by death if anyone should find out her secr... read more