We made this list by studying sector magazines and reading dozens of musical reviews in search of the most beautiful musicals ever. These are famous and less known titles to the general public, very recent and very dated works but in any case musicals of the highest quality and almost always enormously successful.

The Musical

The musical is a genre of theatrical and cinematographic representation, born and developed in the United States of America between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One of its correspondents in Italy is the musical comedy, with which it shares the use of several expressive and communicative techniques together. The action is carried on stage not only by the acting, but also by the music, song and dance which flow spontaneously and naturally without feeling heavy or excessive.

Even if it is not considered a real musical, the amazing masterpiece ” Notre Dame de Paris ” by Riccardo Cocciante is worth mentioning on this occasion.


The Phantom of the Opera (1986/2004)

The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantome de l’Opera) is a novel written by Gaston Leroux . It was first published as a series in Le Gaulois from 23 September 1909 to 8 January 1910 and edited in volume at the end of March 1910 by Pierre Lafitte. The novel is inspired in part by historical events at the Paris Opera during the nineteenth century and by an apocryphal account concerning the use of a former ballet pupil’s skeleton in the 1841 production of Der Freischutz by Carl Maria von Weber.

It has been successfully adapted into various film and stage adaptations, the most notable of which are the 1925 film portrayal starring Lon Chaney and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical . Finally, we recall the film version of this 2004 musical by Joel Schumacher.

Avoid (1978/1996)

Evita is a musical written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber , loosely based on the life of Evita Peron, wife of Argentine President Juan Domingo Peron . Among the most famous songs of the musical, Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina (Don’t cry for me, Argentina) sung by Evita, from the balcony of the Casa Rosada on the day of the proclamation of her husband’s election as president (October 17, 1945) , to his country and his people, Oh What a Circus and High Flying Adored, in which Che caustically recounts Eva’s career, and Another Suitcase in Another Hall, originally sung by Barbara Dickson on the original disc, in subsequent versions from Peron’s lover.

The film Evita was made from the musical , the musical of which was presented in Italy in 2017 starring Malika Ayane , failing to have the hoped-for success, perhaps due to the unfortunate choice of the protagonist.

The Blues Brothers (1980)

The Blues Brothers is a 1980 musical comedy film directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

The film occupies a prominent place in the history of cinema , thanks to its cast of musicians and singers, the plot similar to a full-fledged musical show and the interpretation of the protagonists. The two play brothers Jake “Joliet” Blues (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), characters invented at the time of their first collaborations on the famous US television program Saturday Night Live; they quickly became famous all over the world, unmistakable in the ubiquitous black suits and Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. In the film, they do their utmost to save the orphanage where they both grew up from closure, deciding to organize a reunion for their blues group and to play concerts around the premises, thus raising the necessary money.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Wizard of Oz (The Wizard of Oz) is a 1939 film directed by Victor Fleming, inspired by the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the first of the fourteen Oz books by the American writer L. Frank Baum. The director of this musical film, Fleming, was also known for Gone with the Wind, released in the same year, while the protagonist (Dorothy Gale) is Judy Garland, one of the most successful actresses of the time. The Wizard of Oz received numerous awards and is considered a classic in the history of cinema.

The popular song Over the Rainbow (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by EY Harburg and performed by protagonist Judy Garland) has subsequently been covered by many artists and used in various fields.

The wizard of Oz has always been recognized as a film of exquisite workmanship, there have rarely been critics who have spoken out against it. The debate is mainly linked to the diatribe between those who consider it a masterpiece and those who consider it “only” a good film . Pino Farinotti belongs to the first category given that in the Dictionary of his films he assigns the film 5 stars, the highest possible rating. Morando Morandini on the contrary belongs to the second category, assigning an honorable but not exceptional rating of 3.5 stars out of a maximum of 5 in its prestigious film guide.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 film directed by Baz Luhrmann. The subject is inspired by the opera La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. The film is considered an atypical musical because the songs sung are not original works, but reinterpretations of some of the historical pieces of pop music interpreted by the cast; in particular the two leading actors Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor amazed the audience with their singing skills not being professional singers.

In the story there are both fictional and real characters: among these there is the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (played by John Leguizamo), one of the greatest exponents of the bohemian spirit, which can be summed up in the four key words of the feature film Freedom – Beauty – Truth – Love, and the musician Erik Satie (Matthew Whittet), who according to the chronicles of the time was even more eccentric and bewildered than shown in the film. Moulin Rouge! it is known for mixing scenic spectacularity with a certain surrealism, in line with the spirit of Paris at the time; from a visual point of view, warm colors predominate, above all red, alternating with dark and cold tones in the most tense dramatic scenes.

Its release was considered the “rebirth” of the musical , a film genre that for many years had been deserted by live action cinema and kept alive only by animated Disney classics and the film was the winner of two Academy Awards in 2002 , for best scenography and best costumes, winning two statuettes out of the eight nominations received.

Hair (1967)

Hair (Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical) is a rock musical written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni (lyrics) and Galt MacDermot (music). It represents one of the most important products of the hippie counterculture of the sixties and was very successful.

Hair is a 1979 American musical drama film, directed by Milos Forman , based on the Broadway musical of the same name, written and directed by screenwriters and composers Gerome Ragni and James Rado. While inspired by the stage musical, the film differs profoundly from the work represented on Broadway, not only in the plot but also in the sequence of the musical pieces. It was presented out of competition at the 32nd Cannes Film Festival.

Cats (1981)

Cats is a 1981 two-act musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber to lyrics by Thomas Stearns Eliot (with additions by Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe). It is one of the most famous musicals in the world and one of the greatest hits of all time in terms of longevity, viewers and total receipts.

The musical is based on Thomas Stearns Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, 1939; translated into Italian in 1963, a collection of poems featuring cats as protagonists. The poems were actually initially letters that the poet wrote to his grandchildren and which were later published. Lloyd Webber set to music all the poems in the collection to build the story of the musical, as well as unpublished material provided to him by Eliot’s widow. Memory, the most famous song of the musical, was written by Trevor Nunn inspired by Eliot’s poem Rhapsody about a windy night.

Chicago (1975/2002)

Chicago is a 1975 American musical directed by Bob Fosse , with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb (the same authors of Cabaret and New York, New York), had as its first interpreters Gwen Verdon (for a certain period replaced by Liza Minnelli) and Chita Rivera.

The show was only modestly successful. The 1990s revival went on to become one of Broadway’s most successful shows and is the highest-run American musical ever to be performed in both London and Broadway.

In the past decade two Italians have played leading roles in the London edition: Ernesto Tomasini (as Mary Sunshine) and Luca Barbareschi (Billy Flynn). In 2002, director Rob Marshall made a film of it (Chicago) that won 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

My Fair Lady (1956/1964)

My Fair Lady is a musical by Frederick Loewe with a libretto by Alan Jay Lerner, based on the play by George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion (1913). Like Shaw’s play, the musical is about rough cockney florist Eliza Doolittle who takes lessons from phonetist Henry Higgins in order to become a real lady and open a shop. The project is the result of a bet between Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering, made after the professor claimed he could turn any commoner into a lady with just a few months of lessons. But, unexpectedly, Higgins begins to have feelings for her poor flower girl.

The musical, directed by Moss Hart, with costumes by Cecil Beaton and sets by Oliver Messel, debuted on Broadway in 1956 and was a great success with critics and audiences: My Fair Lady ran for 2,717 performances , making it the longest-running musical at the time, and won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical also proved to be an extraordinary success in London , where it ran for 2,281 performances at the Theater Royal Drury Lane. In both productions the roles of the two protagonists were played by Rex Harrison and a young Julie Andrews .

Harrison also returned to acting in George Cukor’s Academy Award-winning 1964 film adaptation, with Audrey Hepburn (voiced by Marni Nixon) as Eliza. The musical was subsequently revived on the London and New York scenes in numerous revivals and earned the nickname of ” perfect musical “.

La La Land (2016)

La La Land is a 2016 film written and directed by Damien Chazelle . The film tells the love story between a jazz musician and an aspiring actress, played respectively by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone , made as a contemporary musical that pays homage to the classic musical films produced at the turn of the 50s and 60s. The title of the film is both a reference to the city of Los Angeles and the meaning of being in the “world of dreams” or “out of reality”. Chazelle wrote the script in 2010, but couldn’t find a studio willing to finance the project. Only after the success of his 2014 Whiplash did the project gain interest from studios.

The film received universal acclaim from critics, who praised Damien Chazelle’s direction, Stone’s performance and the film’s soundtrack, receiving top marks from many critics and being one of the most popular films since its theatrical release.

It was the opening film of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, where Stone won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress. It received 14 nominations at the 2017 Academy Awards, equaling the record of films such as All About Eve and Titanic, finally winning 6 statuettes. It won seven Golden Globes , out of seven nominations, the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and many other numerous international awards, becoming one of the most awarded and appreciated films of 2016.