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Key figures at-a-glance:
  • Operabase
    260.000 performances on file, since 1996; 700 opera companies

  • The five seasons 2005/6 to 2009/10
    Works from 1005 different composers were played, of which more than 500 are living
    A total of 2156 different works were given, including over 300 world premieres

  • The 2009/10 season
    Over 23,000 performances, one third in Germany (the most operatic country)
    Wien is the most operatic city

deGermany  7320 (81.758m)
usUnited States  1965 (308.746m)
atAustria  1361 (8.356m)
frFrance  1289 (65.822m)
itItaly  1163 (60.419m)
Total number of performances by country, for the 2009/10 season. In brackets, the national populations in millions. NB: figures for countries outside western Europe and North America (particularly Russia) will be too low, as it is difficult to get accurate and complete information for them.
As Operabase collected about 23,000 performances in the 2009/10 season, Germany is mounting about one third of all opera performances globally.
Countries, per capitaTop
atAustria162.9 (1361 /8.356m)
eeEstonia124.6 (167 /1.340m)
chSwitzerland99.2 (772 /7.786m)
deGermany89.5 (7320 /81.758m)
seSweden46.5 (435 /9.354m)
luLuxembourg43.8 (22 /0.502m)
czCzech Republic43.7 (466 /10.675m)
skSlovakia40.0 (217 /5.430m)
noNorway39.9 (197 /4.938m)
10 dkDenmark34.5 (192 /5.558m)
The number of performances per million citizens. In brackets, the total number of performances and the population in millions.
The size of Austria's lead is quite remarkable.  Interestingly, Austria would have led this table (and Vienna that of the cities) even before the Theater an der Wien was added as the city's fourth opera house in January 2006.

1de (#1)Berlin  593  (3.44m)
2at (#1)Wien  581  (2.00m)
3uk (#1)London  440  (8.28m)
4fr (#1)Paris  431  (10.20m)
5de (#2)München  387  (2.61m)
6cz (#1)Praha  369  (1.25m)
7us (#1)New York  364  (18.22m)
8de (#3)Dresden  339  (0.78m)
9ru (#1)Moscow  329  (10.56m)
10de (#4)Hamburg  246  (1.77m)
11se (#1)Stockholm  245  (1.25m)
12ch (#1)Zurich  239  (0.37m)
13es (#1)Madrid  236  (3.26m)
14de (#5)Frankfurt  197  (2.29m)
15hu (#1)Budapest  196  (2.52m)
16de (#6)Köln  194  (1.00m)
17au (#1)Sydney  171  (3.64m)
18de (#7)Leipzig  162  (1.00m)
19pl (#1)Wroclaw  159  (0.63m)
20de (#8)Hannover  158  (0.53m)
The number of performances in each city, in the 2009/10 season. The figure given in brackets is the urban population (the population of the contiguous built-up area) in millions.
Measured by the number of opera performances in the 2009/10 season, the most operatic cities were Wien (with 617 performances), Berlin, London, Moscow, and Hamburg (in position 5), followed by New York, Paris and Prague.

Of the top 100 most operatic cities,

  • no fewer than 47(!) are in Germany
  • 7 in Austria
  • 5 each in Switzerland and in Poland
  • 4 in Italy
  • 3 in the US, in the Czech Republic and in Russia
  • 2 in France, in Spain, in the UK and in Australia

1it (#1)Verdi2259 (29 Operas)
2at (#1)Mozart2124 (26 Operas)
3it (#2)Puccini1732 (13 Operas)
4de (#1)Wagner,R920 (14 Operas)
5it (#3)Rossini772 (40 Operas)
6it (#4)Donizetti713 (31 Operas)
7de (#2)Strauss,R512 (15 Operas)
8fr (#1)Bizet485 (7 Operas)
9uk (#1)Handel463 (56 Operas)
10fr (#2)Offenbach365 (34 Operas)
11at (#2)Strauss,J322 (10 Operas)
12ru (#1)Tchaikovsky322 (7 Operas)
13uk (#2)Britten289 (19 Operas)
14hu (#1)Lehár250 (11 Operas)
15de (#3)Humperdinck221 (3 Operas)
16it (#5)Bellini213 (8 Operas)
17cz (#1)Janáček199 (10 Operas)
18fr (#3)Gounod198 (7 Operas)
19fr (#4)Massenet193 (14 Operas)
20it (#6)Leoncavallo169 (7 Operas)
Composer and opera tables are based on counts of performance runs over the last five seasons, ie how many times a work was programmed not the number of performances.
Works from 1005 different composers were played over these five seasons.

After the first three (Verdi, Mozart, Puccini), who dominate the listings, there's a gap to the next three (Wagner, Rossini, Donizetti).

Good news for Benjamin Britten: at position 13, he is the highest ranked composer born in the 20th century even before the celebrations of the centenary of his birth in 2013.

Living composersTop
1us (#1)Glass41 (12 Operas)
2de (#1)Henze39 (12 Operas)
3us (#2)Adams26 (5 Operas)
4us (#3)Heggie24 (6 Operas)
5ru (#1)Frid21 (2 Operas)
6uk (#1)Maxwell Davies21 (7 Operas)
7hu (#1)Eötvös21 (7 Operas)
8fr (#1)Dusapin21 (5 Operas)
9us (#4)Floyd19 (4 Operas)
10de (#2)Rihm19 (7 Operas)
The two leading living composers are both long established — Henze (b.1926), Glass (b.1937) both have a large body of work being performed (12 titles each), and both are continuing to create new works.

Perhaps the most surprising — yet most welcome — single item of data to come out of these statistics is the proportion of the opera composers who are living.  Of the 1000+ composers programmed over the last five seasons, over 500 are alive — not bad for an art-form that is sometimes thoughtlessly described as ready for the museum.

Female composersTop
1fi (#1)Saariaho15 (4 Operas)
2uk (#1)Weir(4 Operas)
3il (#1)Czernowin(2 Operas)
4uk (#2)Portman(1 Operas)
5at (#1)Naske(2 Operas)
Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho is the most frequently programmed female composer, with her recent operas, L'amour de loin and Emilie being played across Europe and in the US.

Scot Judith Weir has enjoyed much success over the last ten years, in both the United Kingdom and in Germany (particularly with the revised 2006 chamber opera version of Blond Eckbert, after Tieck). The WP of her new opera, Achterbahn, takes place in Bregenz in July 2011.

1at (#1)Mozart (#1)Die Zauberflöte (451)
2it (#1)Verdi (#1)La traviata (447)
3fr (#1)Bizet (#1)Carmen (424)
4it (#2)Puccini (#1)La bohème (420)
5at (#2)Mozart (#2)Le nozze di Figaro (399)
6it (#3)Puccini (#2)Tosca (379)
7at (#3)Mozart (#3)Don Giovanni (360)
8it (#4)Puccini (#3)Madama Butterfly (349)
9it (#5)Rossini (#1)Il barbiere di Siviglia (327)
10it (#6)Verdi (#2)Rigoletto (314)
11at (#4)Mozart (#4)Così fan tutte (282)
12it (#7)Donizetti (#1)L'elisir d'amore (218)
13it (#8)Verdi (#3)Aida (215)
14de (#1)Humperdinck (#1)Hänsel und Gretel (212)
15it (#9)Puccini (#4)Turandot (206)
16at (#5)Strauss,J (#1)Die Fledermaus (200)
17it (#10)Verdi (#4)Nabucco (183)
18ru (#1)Tchaikovsky (#1)Eugene Onegin (175)
19it (#11)Donizetti (#2)Lucia di Lammermoor (170)
20it (#12)Leoncavallo (#1)Pagliacci (159)
21at (#6)Mozart (#5)Die Entführung (157)
22hu (#1)Lehár (#1)Die lustige Witwe (149)
23it (#13)Verdi (#5)Il trovatore (147)
24it (#14)Verdi (#6)Falstaff (144)
25de (#2)Wagner,R (#1)Der fliegende Holländer (137)
Over the 5 seasons, 2005/06 to 2009/10, there were more than 100,000 performances of 2156 different works, of which over 300 (one in seven) were world premieres.

There are few surprises at the top end of the list: Die Zauberflöte just beats La traviata to be the most frequently programmed opera, followed by Carmen, Bohème and Le nozze di Figaro.

Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth (#73) pips Britten's Turn of the Screw (#81) to be the most frequently programmed opera from a composer born in the 20th century.

There are two works by living composers in the top 200 most frequently programmed works: Grigory Frid's monodrama The Diary of Anne Frank (#158), and the opera Dead Man Walking from Jake Heggie (#196).

Operabase produces an annual New and Rare listing, highlighting about 600 of the more unusual titles in the season. It is available online, at http://operabase.com/rare