Richard Wagner is perhaps the best-known opera composer of all time, and his influence on the genre has inspired countless other composers to this day. Unlike many other composers, Wagner wrote both the music and the libretto for all of his operas, and revolutionised the genre through his idea of Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), which combined poetry, visual art, drama, and music. His music is known for its complex texture, rich harmonies, and massive orchestration. He often makes use of Leitmotifs — musical ideas which represent a single character or idea throughout a dramatic work or series of works.

Wagner had his own opera house built, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which reflected how Wagner intended his operas to be experienced; every seat has an uninterrupted view of the stage, and the venue does away with much of the pomp of classical opera houses. The Bayreuth Festival still runs today, and Wagner's operas are amongst the most regularly staged works by modern opera companies.

Double Bass