Béatrice et Bénédict, Berlioz's last completed work, is based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but the libretto, by the composer, dispenses with most of the intrigue of the original and reduces the plot to a single premise: Béatrice et Bénédict mask their affection for each other by squabbling, and then finally come to their senses and get married. Although designated an opera, it is closer in effect to an opéra comique because of its very extensive use of spoken dialogue.
Gretry's "Richard Coeur De Lion" (1784), a rousing tale about the rescue of the crusader king Richard the Lionheart by his faithful troubadour Blondel, is a minor masterpiece, the greatest French opera comique of the Ancien Regime. Gretry wasn't an eighteenth century composer of the calibre of Mozart, Rameau or his contemporary Gluck, but his music seduced audiences with its charm and tunefulness and in this opera he provided a great deal more. Blondel's stirring aria of loyalty to his king, "O Richard, oh mon roi", was so powerful it was used as an anthem by the royalists in the 1790s and promptly banned by the revolutionary authorities. The romance "Une fievre brulante" (which recurs throughout the opera in a very early anticipation of the Wagnerian leitmotif) is a superb melody too, sentimental in the best sense of the word. The only aria most people today are likely to be familiar with is "Je crains de lui parler la nuit", the song the old countess sings to herself just before she is murdered in Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades", but there are also lively peasant dances and choruses, catchy duets and trios and a barnstorming finale in which King Richard's loyal followers overrun the castle where he is being held and free him from its dungeon.
Peter the Great was staged to celebrate the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg.
In order to understand the needs and sorrows of his people the young and dashing Tsar Peter decides to live and work incognito among the working classes. He falls in love with Catherine, a commoner's daughter and, still preserving his real identity, wants to marry her. (Operacritic.com)
The work reflects the tendency of an age of changes which was torn between a nostalgia for the times of the reign of Louis XIV and the cult of modernity and progress. Thus, it overlays on the barely- altered Jean Racine text of Andromaque (1667) a music already suffused with Romantic aspirations where literally unheard-of tones and accents clothe the passions of the Classical Greek age in a new guise. Never performed again after its initial production Andromaque today reveals all the modernity of the French school on the eve of the French Revolution and imposes itself without doubt as one of the most singular and unexpected links between the Baroque and Romanticism.