Shakespeare Operas


Opera Adaptations and Operas Inspired by Shakespeare Plays

Note: We know some Shakespeare operas, especially the early ones, included ballets and dancing; for others, staged dancing is less likely or a directorial choice, but we have included those anyway for completeness. Dates are premiers and the first name listed is the composer, with additional names the librettists (in addition to Shakespeare, of course) if known.

Antony and Cleopatra

  • 1966, 1975 – Samuel Barber and Franco Zeffirelli, with Alvin Ailey as choreographer for 1966 premiere

The Comedy of Errors

  • 1943 – Iša Krejčí and Josef Bachtík, Pozdvižení v Efesu (Turmoil in Ephesus)

Falstaff Operas

  • 1799 – Antonio Salieri, Falstaff, ossia Le tre burle (Falstaff, or The Three Jokes)
  • 1849 – Otto Nicolai and Salomon Hermann Mosenthal, Der Iustigen Weiber von Windsor
  • 1893 – Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito, Falstaff — combines scenes from Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • 1925 – Gustav Holst, At the Boar’s Head — based on Henry IV parts 1 and 2
  • 1929 – Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir John in Love

Hamlet

  • 1865 – Franco Faccio and Arrigo Boito, Amleto
  • 1868 – Ambroise Thomas and Michel Carré and Jules Barbier
  • 2017 – Brett Dean and Matthew Jocelyn

Julius Caesar

  • 1788 – Francesco Bianchi and Gaetano Sertor, La morte di Cesare (The Death of Caesar) 
  • 1959 – Giselher Klebe, Die Ermordung Cäsars (The Murder of Caesar)

King Lear

  • 1850s – Libretto by Antonio Somma commissioned by Giuseppe Verdi but he never composed music for it, Re Lear 
  • 1978 – Aribert Reimann and Claus Henneberg, Lear
  • 1998 – Toshio Hosokawa and Tadashi Suzuki, Vision of Lear
  • 2000 – Aulis Sallinen, Kuningas Lear 

Love’s Labour’s Lost

  • 1973 – Nicolas Nabokov and W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman

Macbeth

  • 1847 (Italian), 1865 (French) – Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei
  • 1910 – Ernest Bloch and Edmond Fleg

Measure for Measure

  • 1836 – Richard Wagner, Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love)

The Merchant of Venice

  • 1905 – Josef Bohuslav Foerster, Jessika
  • 1935 – Reynaldo Hahn and Miguel, Le Marchand de Venise 
  • 1968-1982 (composed), premiere 2013 – André Tchaikowsky and John O’Brien

The Merry Wives of Windsor (see also, Falstaff operas)

  • 1799 – Antonio Salieri, Falstaff, ossia Le tre burle (Falstaff, or The Three Jokes)
  • 1849 – Otto Nicolai and Salomon Hermann Mosenthal, Der Iustigen Weiber von Windsor
  • 1929 – Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir John in Love

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • 1692 – Henry Purcell, The Fairy-Queen
  • 1716 – Richard Leveridge, The Comickal Masque of Pyramus and Thisbe
  • 1745 – John Frederick Lampe, Pyramis and Thisbe
  • 1949 – Marcel Delannoy and André Boll, Puck
  • 1960 – Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears
  • 2011 – Jeremy Sams et al., The Enchanted Island — pastiche of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Much Ado About Nothing

  • 1862 – Hector Berlioz, Béatrice et Bénédict
  • 1901 – Charles Villiers Stanford and Julian Sturgis

Othello

  • 1816 – Giulio Rossini and Francesco Berio di Salsa, Otello
  • 1887 – Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito, Otello
  • 1999 – Daron Hagen and Paul Muldoon, Bandanna

Romeo and Juliet

  • 1776 – Georg Benda and Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, Romeo und Julia
  • 1796 – Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli and Giuseppe Maria Foppa, Giulietta e Romeo
  • 1825 – Nicola Vaccai and Felice Romani, Giulietta e Romeo
  • 1830 – Vincenzo Bellini and Felice Romani, I Capuleti e i Montecchi
  • 1867 – Charles Gounod and Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, Roméo et Juliette
  • 1901 – Frederick Delius, A Village Romeo and Juliet
  • 1940 – Heinrich Sutermeister, Romeo und Julia
  • 1957 – Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story

The Taming of the Shrew

  • 1874 – Hermann Goetz and Josephy Victor Widmann, Der Widerspänstigen Zähmung
  • 1896 – Ruperto Chapi and Carlos Fernández Shaw and José López Silva, Las bravías (The Pigeons)
  • 1927 – Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and Giovacchino Forzano, Sly, ovvero La leggenda del dormiente risvegliato (Sly, or The Legend of the Sleeper Awoken) 
  • 1953 – Vittorio Giannini and Dorothy Fee
  • 1953 – Cole Porter, Kiss Me Kate 
  • 1955 – Vissarion Shebalin and Abram Akimovich Gozenpud, Ukroshchenye stroptivoy
  • 1963 – Dominick Argento and John Gay Manlove, Christopher Sly

The Tempest

  • 1674 – Thomas Shadwell, The Enchanted Isle
  • 1756 – John Christopher Smith and David Garrick, The Tempest of The Enchanted Isle
  • 1798 – Johann Friedrich Anton Fleischmann (1st), Johann Friedrich Reichardt (2nd) and Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, Die Geisterinsel (The Enchanted Island) 
  • 1922 – Felice Lattuada
  • 1956 – Frank Martin, Der Sturm
  • 1970 – Michael Tippett, The Knot Garden
  • 1984 – Luciano Berio, Un Re In Ascolto (A Listening King)
  • 1985 – John C. Eaton
  • 1986 – Lee Holby and Mark Shulgasser
  • 1991 – Michael Nyman with choreography by Karine Saporta, Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs
  • 2004 – Thomas Adès and Meredith Oakes
  • 2011 – Jeremy Sams et al., The Enchanted Island — pastiche of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Timon of Athens

  • 1991 – Stephen Oliver

Troilus and Cressida

  • Note: William Walton and Christopher Hassall’s opera Troilus and Cressida (1954) is based on Chaucer’s poem not on Shakespeare’s play

Twelfth Night

  • 1874-1883 (unfinished), premiere 1924 – Bedřich Smetana and Eliška Krásnohorská, Viola

The Winter’s Tale

  • 1872 – Max Bruch and Emil Hopffer, Hermione
  • 1999 – Philippe Boesmans, Luc Bondy, and Marie-Louise Bischofberger, Wintermärchen
  • 2017 – Ryan Wigglesworth

The Sonnets and Poems

  • 1937 – Ottorino Respighi and Claudio Guastalla, Lucrezia (inspired by The Rape of Lucrece)
  • 1968 – André Tchaikowsky, Seven Sonnets of Shakespeare (Sonnets are 104, 75, 49, 61, 89, 90, and 146)
  • 1997 – Hans Werner Henze and Hans-Ulrich Treichel, Venus und Adonis

Updated July 29, 2021.