Perhaps a slightly odd question... I’m preparing the vocal score for a two act opera and was wondering whether it is standard for numbering to continue throughout the whole opera or to start numbering at 1 again for each act?

1 Answer 1


Yes, the numbering restarts at the beginning of each act. This is standard across all subgenres of opera.

But intra-act numbering conventions vary depending on the style. If it's a number opera, the measure numbering restarts at the beginning of each number. But if we're looking at a continuous single act (like those in Wagner, for example), then the numbering will continue for the entire act.

  • I'm not convinced. Plenty of my opera scores (admittedly some aged editions) have no bar numbers at all. In number operas (where ouverture, each recitative and aria receives its own ordinal) there is also the convention to restart the bar number at any number, which has advantages in case of cutting whole arias.
    – guidot
    Feb 21, 2021 at 22:07

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