The operas to see in Paris in 2021 and 2022

  • August 17, 2021
  • Parisian theatre
  • Eléonore Duizabo

The 2021-2022 season promises to be filled with music. In addition to the many classical, jazz, and rock concerts lighting up the city, a number of fantastic operas are taking Paris by storm. From Mozart to Mussorgsky to Debussy, be it world premieres or repertory classics, Parisian opera houses have some great surprises in store for you. Without further ado, discover all the operas to see in Paris in 2021 and 2022.

L'Elisir d'Amore ©Guergana Damianova

A celebration of Italian composers

This year, Italian composers will be in the spotlight. Italy being the birthplace of the genre, an opera season without the music of Verdi, Puccini, or Rossini would be unimaginable. At the end of 2021, three famous operas will share the stage at the Opéra Bastille. First comes Donizetti's L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love), from 28 September to 9 November. This opera buffa recounts the love stories and amazing happenings of Nemorino and Adina – and don't forget the quack doctor and hefty servings of wine. Sit back and admire the staging by Laurent Pelly, already a big success at the Opéra de Paris! Italian melodies will continue with Verdi's Rigoletto, taking its place on stage in October and November 2021. This dramatic work tells the story of Rigoletto, the king's jester, in a daring production from Claus Guth.
Puccini’s opera Turandot will grace the stage next in a vision of grandeur from Robert Wilson, master of minimalist staging. The production's vibrant colours and the beautiful melody of the "Nessun Dorma" aria will give you chills. Last but not least, Rossini's famous opera The Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) will ring out from May to June 2022. Inspired by a French comedy by Beaumarchais, this opera is reborn under Damiano Michieletto's direction: a dazzling production that's constantly in motion.

Book your tickets for the greatest Italian operas

Don Giovanni ©Charles Duprat

Le Nozze di Figaro ©Vincent Pontet

Mozart Fever

Here's a composer who continues to captivate audiences across generations. This 2021-2022 season, come applaud three operas by Mozart written with the help of the librettist Da Ponte between 1786, when Mozart was only 30 years old, and 1790. Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) will grace the Opéra Royal de Versailles in November and December, and in January and February you can see it at the Palais Garnier. With two incredible productions, it would be a crime to miss Mozart's greatest opera! Through Susanna, Figaro, the Count, the Countess, and Cherubino, Le Nozze di Figaro depicts marital love, jealousy, and pleasures. The comical love stories of Cosi fan tutte will take centre stage next at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in March 2022. You'll be swept off your feet by the enchanting melodies of "Soave sia il vento" and "Come Scoglio" in this production with staging by Laurent Pelly and musical direction by Emmanuelle Haïm.
Finally, the seductive Don Giovanni will charm audiences at the Opéra Bastille from February to March 2022. This jovial drama gives a musical depiction of its characters' psyches. Impossible to say no to the production's flawless staging by Ivo van Hove and the famous "Catalogue Aria", "Champagne Aria", and "Masked Trio" aria. Three unmissable and incredibly intelligent operas that will make you laugh and think – with timelessly impressive arias to boot.

Discover the Mozart operas playing in 2021 and 2022

Pelléas et Mélisande ©Vincent Pontet

Romantic French shows for opera lovers

Calling all Francophile music lovers! More than 15 operas in French will light up Parisian stages in 2021 and 2022. And not to worry – all of these operas have English and French surtitles, and are accessible to all. Iphigénie en Tauride (Iphigenia in Tauris), an opera from Gluck based on Greco-Roman mythology, will mesmerise audiences at the Palais Garnier in September and October 2021. This modern staging from director Warlikowski places the Ancient Greek characters in a retirement home, and uses screen and mirror manipulation to communicate the characters' thoughts.
A series of operatic love stories will move all of Paris to tears this season. Stanislas de Barbeyrac and Patricia Petibon will bring to life the eponymous lovers in Debussy's impressionist opera Pelléas et Mélisande for a few fleeting dates in October 2021, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. Massenet's Manon will shine at the Opéra Bastille in February and March 2022. This colourful staging transports Manon, the Chevalier des Grieux, Lescaut, and Monsieur de Brétigny to the vibrancy of the Roaring Twenties. In March and April 2022, the Opéra Bastille will once again be filled with Massenet's melodies in the fairy tale Cendrillon (Cinderella). Audiences will hear the beautiful Marguerite sing "Ah! je ris de me voir si belle en ce miroir" (“Ah! I laugh to see how lovely I look in the mirror”) when a production of Gounod's Faust takes the stage in June and July 2022. The protagonist of this opera sells his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth, in the hopes that he might seduce Marguerite. But the devil is always one step ahead... All in all, the 2021-2022 season promises a thrilling lineup of French operas in the greatest Parisian theatres.

Book your tickets for sublime French operas

Turandot ©Javier del Real - Teatro Real

La Khovantchina ©Ian Patrick

Monumental new productions

Marina Abramović, the undisputed master of performance art, has imagined a new piece mixing performance, video, and opera. Entitled 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, this piece presents a reprisal of the soprano's greatest roles as a vocalist and her unhappy love affairs. This monumental opera will be at the Opéra Garnier for only 4 shows. Œdipe, a little-known work by George Enescu, will open in September at the Opéra Bastille. Based on the Oedipus myth, this opera offers a reflection on identity, lulled by Enescu's European musical influences. La Khovantchina will reverberate through the Opéra Bastille in January and February 2022. Retracing a bloody period in Russian history, this opera from Mussorgsky alternates between thrilling chorus sections and tender solos. Tchaikovsky's Eugene Oneguin plunges us into 18th century Russia amid the melancholic love affairs of Onegin, Tatyana, and Lensky. Then to German composers for a spin around the Parisian musical scene. Wagner and his Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) will have you shivering aboard the high seas in this supernatural love story. In Parsifal, Wagner's final opera, follow the eponymous hero on his quest for the Holy Grail. With Strauss's Elektra, uncover the saga of Agamemnon's daughter, anxious to avenge her father's death.
To stage the formidable Wozzeck by Berg, the painter William Kentridge designed the set with charcoal drawings, reflecting the dark thoughts of the opera's protagonist. Audiences will emerge transformed from this scenic and musical labyrinth. At 95 years old, the composer György Kurtág has written his first opera, Fin de Partie, (Endgame), a musically rich work adapted from the play Endgame by Samuel Beckett. The characters Hamm, Clov, Nagg, and Nell inhabit Beckett's post-apocalyptic universe, accompanied by a dark and precise score made grandiose in staging from Pierre Audi. And that's not all! Leonard Bernstein's opera A Quiet Place will open for the very first time. The composer who brought us West Side Story and Candide presents a poignant family drama, in a production with Patricia Petibon, Frédéric Antoun, and Gordon Bintner. These large-scale performances give new meaning to operas from Wagner, Strauss, and Tchaikovsky.

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George Dandin ©Marcel Hatmann

Comedy-ballets and operettas

Head to the Opéra Royal de Versailles for two comedy-ballets from Molière and Lully. First up, George Dandin, where director and cast member Michel Fau has created a world of Baroque stylings with the help of extravagant costumes from Christian Lacroix. Molière's misunderstandings and deceit will continue in full force with Le Malade Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), performed by the actors of the Comédie-Française company who are joined on stage by vocalists and musicians. Richard the Lionheart, an opera by Grétry, Marie-Antoinette's favourite composer, will transport audiences to the reign of Louis XVI. End 2021 on a high note with Offenbach's opera buffa La Vie Parisienne (Parisian Life). You won't be able to stop yourself from dancing and laughing along with this operetta's outlandish twists and tunes. It's a celebration of Paris with characters that will warm your heart for the holidays.

Book your tickets for operettas and comic operas

Platée ©Agathe Poupeney

Alcina au Palais Garnier - ©Jean-Marc Lisse


Baroque operas are all the rage in the 2021-2022 season. Several Parisian theatres and operas have programmed the greatest hits of Baroque music. If you think 'Handel' when someone says 'Baroque', you'll be delighted to hear that you can see not one, but two productions of Alcina! At the Palais Garnier at the end of 2021, director Robert Carsen will place the enchanted protagonists in a bourgeois setting with captivating lighting effects. In Versailles, a brand-new production under the musical direction of Václav Luks will open in March 2022. At the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Gaëlle Arquez and Sabine Devieilhe will play Julius Caesar and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caeser in Egypt), a tale of love and power, and undoubtedly one of Handel's greatest masterpieces. We can't wait to see Atys! The love triangle between the goddess Cybèle, Atys, and Sangaride the nymph will be on display at the Opéra de Versailles in a new production staged and choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj, and conducted by Leonardo García Alarcón. The Opéra de Versailles will also put on Platée, as will the Opéra de Paris. This comic opera recounts the tale of the ugly frog Platée, victim of a joke by the gods who make her believe that Jupiter is in love with her. This masterpiece from Rameau wields irony to perfection and presents an imaginative score. In May 2022, Platée will be reborn with a staging from Shirley and Dino. At the Palais Garnier in June and July, Laurent Pelly will revive his acclaimed staging, just as outrageous as Rameau's work, with vocalists Mathias Vidal and Julie Fuchs.

The Opera Locos ©Dominique Plaideau / Claire Braque

A show combining opera and humour

Does The Opera Locos (The Opera of Crazies) sound familiar to you? For those of you who haven't heard of this sensation, here's a quick summary of the show thrilling all of Paris. Five opera singers meet for a recital. Though they perfectly perform pieces of music from The Magic Flute, Carmen, and Turandot, their eccentric personalities get the better of them and nothing goes as planned! The audience discovers that the soprano Mimi is pining over the tenor Alfredo, the countertenor Txi Txi won't hesitate to hijack opera arias to attract Ernesto's attention, and the impetuous Carmen has only one thing on her mind: seducing the audience. In short, these explosive personalities make for a totally wacky show – and the characters are quick to borrow from Mika, Céline Dion, or even Claude François to show how excited they are to be on stage. With colourful and kooky costumes, make-up, and lighting, this show performed entirely in song will delight kids and adults alike, and is accessible to all. Lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes, this show is sure to spice up your back-to-school season!

Marie-Nicole Lemieux & Philippe Jarrousky in Radamisto - All Rights Reserved

L'Orchestre National d'Île-de-France - All Rights Reserved

Operas in concert version

Interested in hearing the greatest operatic arias performed by soloists at the top of their game ? You're in luck! Take advantage of three different types of programmes at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées: voice recitals, oratorios, and operas in concert. One heck of a schedule!
The Vocal Recitals offer an entire evening spent listening to the stunning voices of Pretty Yende, Philippe Jaroussky, Patricia Petibon, or Elsa Dreisig, performing arias from operas ranging from Rossini to Gounoud to Handel. For the Oratorios at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, symphony orchestras and vocalists gather on this extravagant stage to perform the operas Il Ritorno d‘Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses to His Homeland) by Claudio Monteverdi, Leoš Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, and Vivaldi's L'Olimpiade. With the Operas in Concert Version at the Royal Opera of Versailles in January 2022, relish the harmonies of Baroque masterpieces. Desmarest's Circé, Handel's Partenope, and Monteverdi's Orfeo will ring out in the stunning theatre, played by the orchestras Les Arts Florissants or La Chapelle Harmonique, accompanied by the voices of Florian Sempey, Mathias Vidal, and Gaëlle Arquez.

Translated from the French by Clara Siegmund

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