From the University of California, Los Angeles
This remarkable collection includes virtually every opera produced in Venice from 1637 (the opening of the first public opera house) until 1769. The libretti themselves were assembled in the 18th century, following Antonio Groppo's chronology. This collection contains 1,286 libretti, bound in 117 volumes. This set of volumes had been the property of John Stuart (1713-1792), the third Earl of Bute, a noted collector.
The libretti were published in Venice, the center of opera during the 17th and most of the 18th century. The collection serves as an important "guidebook" to the history of opera in Venice. Throughout the time period represented by the collection, opera was gaining enormous public popularity and the form itself was undergoing significant changes.
From a study of the libretti, scholars will discover the change in plot and theme from mythology to politics. Comic operas became popular, as did grander spectacles and arias to showcase individual singers. Venetian Opera Libretti is an excellent source for studying the works of the poets Aureli, Noris, Zeno, Goldoni, Metastasio and others. Composers represented in the collection include Cavalli, Monteverdi, Cesti, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Galuppi and Hasse. In addition, the collection supports research into the literary aspects of the libretto, the staging of operas, production methods, the social issues of the times and, of course, the lives and work of individual composers and librettists.
The collection is accompanied by a hardcover catalog from the University of California Press, which includes entries with full title-page transcriptions, summary of contents and lists of all personnel for each opera.