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Opera History and Literature

Specialized resources for research in opera.

Librettos and Translations

There are several sources of librettos available:

  • Add the word booklet to a search to find CDs with librettos.
  • Search Operas--Librettos to find separately published librettos in the Music Collection.
  • Naxos Music Library is a streaming audio source that also includes a selection of opera librettos.  (Ball State log-in required)

Pronunciation (Diction)

Search Tips for diction resources

In OneSearch, you can add "IPA" (International Phonetic Alphabet) to a keyword search to find transliterations of songs, arias, or complete operas.

To find books about diction, search Singing--Diction

Specific Resources

The Diction Coach series is a collection of several aria anthologies by voice range.  Each volume includes IPA transliterations  of arias, word for word English translations, and CDs with diction coaches from the Metropolitan Opera and The Juilliard School reciting the text slowly, allowing the student to repeat each line.

The ABCs of Russian Diction is a DVD by Vladimir Morosan.   An accompanying insert includes information on transliteration of Russian and IPS.

  • DVD Video 12379

Phonetic Readings of Songs and Arias: Authentic Pronunciations of 413 Italian, German, and French lyrics from "The Singer's Repertoire" in International Phonetic Alphabet Transcription, by Berton Coffin.

  • Reference MT 883 .C631 1981

Nico Castel's series of complete opera libretti includes the original texts, word-by-word translations, and IPA transcriptions for entire opera libretti.  They are kept in the Music Collection Reference area with call numbers beginning ML 49

Occasionally, an individual opera's libretto is published with English translation and IPA transcription, such as Smetana's Bartered Bride.

Opera Libretti with IPA

The following reference books have word-by-word translations and International Phonetic Alphabet (I.P.A.) pronunciation for important operas:

The Nico Castel Opera Libretti series  (In Reference Area)

  • Gluck & Monteverdi operas
  • Handel's Operas (2 vols)
  • Mozart's Operas (2 vols.)
  • Complete Puccini Libretti  (2 vols.)
  • Strauss:  Four Opera Libretti
  • Complete Verdi Libretti (4 vols.)
  • Wagner: Meistersinger von Nuremburg, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal
  • Wagner: Ring of the Nibelung
  • French Opera Libretti (3 vols)
  • Italian bel canto (3 vols; vol. 3 includes French libretti set by Italian composers)
  • Italian verissimo (only vol. 1 available)

(Available on the Music Collection Reference Shelves, with call numbers beginning MT 49)