Use: A listing of operas by American composers for anyone who wishes to be aware of the American heritage in opera. The author indicates there is specific information included for the producer and scholar.
Coverage: Composers included are those born and educated in the United States and those who may have been born elsewhere, but arrived in the United States as a fully trained adult who turned consciously to American idiom. Works considered “opera” include pantomime and melodrama, dramatic cantatas and oratorios, musical comedy, children’s musicals, jazz operas and musicals (only if place of performance and intended audience indicated that it would be appropriate). Spans from 18th century to 20th century; the majority of information is based on 20th century composers and works.
Organization: Following a prose introduction, a valuable list of sources and an explanation of abbreviations is included. The main body is arranged alphabetically by composer’s last name. Contains over four thousand titles by over two thousand composers. Specific information for the producer includes date of work, length, identity of librettist and type of work or type of subject matter, when this is not suggested by the title. Specific information for the scholar includes place of performance of the work and opening date. All entries do not provide all of the above data; it is furnished only if the information was readily available to the author.
Pros: Ninety percent of the composers are undocumented in standard sources.
Cons: Compiled strictly by one individual who admits to being biased in the introduction, due to the difficulties of defining what comprises an opera and who qualifies as American. Many undated works in the list. No appendix listing the operas; one must know the composer to find any information.
Use: A body of information about the operas of Giuseppe Verdi. Valuable to the scholar or thoughtful performer who seeks to know what the operas contain and where the information and original work may be found.
Coverage: Each opera that Verdi composed is included.
Organization: Opera titles listed alphabetically. Each catalog entry includes information on the first performance of each opera, the autograph manuscript, selected printed editions, characters and performers, libretto information, and a chronology of earliest performances. A listing of the operas by date of first performance, alternate titles for the operas, bibliography and index of personal names are all included at the back.
Pros: Research relies mostly upon primary source materials. Where meanings are unclear of original text, additions are made in square brackets.
Cons: Difficult to decipher headings and subheadings as they are not easily separated from other information listed.
Cohen, H. Robert, and Marie-Odile Gigou. Cent ans de mise en scene lyrique en France (env. 1830-1930). La vie musicale en France au XIXe siécle, Vol. 11. Preface by Philip Gossett. New York: Pendragon Press, 1986. Mus Ref ML 128 .O4 C63 1986
Use: Descriptive catalogue of French operas and their related manuscripts. These include staging manuals, scores, and librettos. Each entry attempts to provide information helpful in creating authentic operatic reproductions.
Coverage: Covers French operas from 1830-1930. Also includes a few major operas written by other Europeans.
Organization: Standard dictionary format. Every entry details: composer, librettist, date of completion, date of first performance, and descriptions of the original staging manuals. Illustrations interspersed throughout. Indices A and B detail both the operatic works of each composer and the complete works of each librettist.
Pros: Introduction is translated into English from French. Detailed manuscript descriptions.
Cons: Focus is mainly on French operas and manuscripts only.
Cowden, Robert H. Classical Singers of the Opera and Recital Stages: A Bibliography of Biographical Materials. Music Reference Collection, no. 42. London and Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Mus Ref ML 128 .S295 C7 1994
Use: A guide to finding bibliographies of certain performers of classical music and opera in a number of sources.
Coverage: Cited sources dating from the early 17th-century to 1993. Sources cite 1,532 artists. Singers included if they were glamorized in a significant publication, if they were found in substantial articles with scholarly reputation or whose contributing authors were considered to be knowledgeable, if there was anything indicating fame on the singer, or if their were biographies written about them.
Organization: Organized in three parts: Books on Singers, Related Books, and Individual Singers, A-Z. All parts are organized alphabetically. Each entry offers bibliographic citations written on each singer. Each bibliography is annotated. This source also includes two appendices: a listing of additional artists and the Grove-Opera Index (Singers who are accorded an individual entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Opera edited by Sadie, along with if they are included in this index with their citation number). Provides an Authors, Compilers, and Editors Index.
Pros: Some lengthy annotations.
Cons: Not so user friendly.
Croissant, Charles. Opera Performances in Video Format: A Checklist of Commercially Released Recordings. MLA Index and Bibliography Series, no. 26, ed. Deborah Campana,. Canton, Massachusetts: Music Library Association, 1991. Mus Ref ML 113 .M16 no. 26
Use: catalog of operas on video and laserdiscs compiled from other various video catalogs.
Coverage: Comprehensive listing of complete opera recordings on videos or laserdiscs that have been released commercially in the United States up to April of 1991. Operas in their original languages with English translations. This source is a compilation of information found in Videolog, Video Directory, In Music, and Opus. Three appendixes list recordings of individual artists’ recitals, recording that include only excerpts of operas, and addresses of distributors.
Organization: Organized alphabetically by composer’s last name, except for Appendix C, which lists distributors alphabetically. Each citation lists the composer, standard title, indexing number, bibliographic information (conductor, director, site of production), language, cast, color or black and white, producer, distributor, timing, and date of publication. Three indexes: by title, performer, and ensemble and performance sites.
Pros: Gives information on the quality of a video or laserdisc; whether it be in VHS, Beta, CAV or CLV formats, and if a recording is either stereophonic of Hi-Fi. Clear and comprehensible layout.
Cons: Limited time-span. All recordings are included regardless of availability.
Use: Facsimiles of original libretti title pages with notes. Planned as companion supplement to the earlier edition. Enables examination of the original libretto text and a knowledge of identification and where to find it.
Coverage: 168 Internationally well-known operas.
Organization: Shows copies of original libretti title pages. Translation of libretti page lists librettist, composer, premier dates, physical description of the libretto and list of facts it includes, and publishing information. Introduction includes lists of original alternate titles given to the works, abbreviations, and operas by category. Appendix includes lists of works alphabetically by librettist, composer, and date.
Pros: Title page iconography for every entry.
Cons: Not comprehensive. Does not include a summary of the libretto.
Review: McClymonds, Marita P. Fondes artis musicae, Int. XXXII/2 (1985): 140-41.
Use: A useful research guide for both the lay reader and the scholar, concerning the operas of Gian Carlo Menotti.
Coverage: All operas by Menotti are included, along with The Unicorn and The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi, which are not operas, but are included as a convenience for the user. Excludes certain announcements of the composer’s plans and other materials that are neither reviews, analyses or commentaries, articles written by Menotti, or biographical matter. Time period is 1937-1972.
Organization: Begins with a biographical sketch and bibliographical essay. These brief sections are followed by a List of Works by Menotti, which includes six subsections: The Operas, The Scores, Librettos, Recordings, Opera Selections, and Book Adaptations. Brief information follows each entry. A second section lists Works about Menotti. This section only lists three works. A large section titled General Reference Works follows. Works are listed alphabetically by author’s last name. The Periodical Articles follow; they are arranged alphabetically by opera. Under each opera, annotated periodical articles are listed alphabetically by author. A section titled General Periodical Articles follows. Entries in this section are listed alphabetically by author and are also annotated. Newspaper Articles then follow, listed alphabetically by opera. Lastly, a General Newspaper Articles section completes the bio-bibliography. It is organized alphabetically by newspaper.
Pros: Annotations of all sources. Cross-references included in each section.
Cons: Only includes sources between 1937-1972.
Use: Find basic information on musical stage pieces--operas, musicals, or incidental music--and their premiers based on Shakespeare’s writings.
Coverage: Any musical stage works written throughout Europe and the United States proposed to be based on Shakespeare. Covers musical stage works from Shakespeare’s time through 1990.
Organization: Divided into two main sections. Section one is organized alphabetically by composers. Under each composer, is an entry for each of his/her works. Each work lists the premier, publisher, librettist or text, cast, source information, and brief comments if source date is conflicting. Section two organizes the compositions in lists according to title, city, premier date, text, play, and status. There are also two additional lists of sources of the compositions in the Library of Congress and the British Library.
Pros: Clear methodology, and documented research makes it possible to continue his research. Includes specific information on premier performances, including actor names if available.
Cons: No information on the musical work or composer.
Kaufman, Thomas G. Annals of Opera. Annals of Italian Opera: Verdi and His Major Contemporaries: A Selected Chronology of Performances with Casts, vol.1. Forward by William Ashbrook. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, vol. 1016. New York: Garland Publishing Company Incorporated, 1990. Mus Ref ML 128 .O4 K4 1990
Use: Details the performances in Verdi’s day of currently unknown or unpopular operas; also indicates cast lists from the time period.
Coverage: International listing of premier and key performances on operas from Verdi’s day are given. For famous operas only key productions are included, while complete performance histories of rare operas are given (through Verdi’s death), including information on where they were preformed, and how many times they were performed during Verdi’s life.
Organization: Individual entries by country. Within country, it is subdivided alphabetically by composer, then alphabetically by opera. Each entry specifies title, premier location and date, librettist, cast list, conductor, director, and other key production/performance history.
Cons: Admittedly incomplete entries, justified by the author, due to lack of records in many cities. Only the more successful operas from Verdi’s day are covered. Operas that were less successful during Verdi’s life are only included if they represent lesser known composers. No bibliography or source list of any kind.
Studwell, William E., and David A. Hamilton. Opera Plot Index: A Guide to Locating Plots and Descriptions of Operas, Operettas and Other Works of the Musical Theater, and Associated Material. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, vol. 1099. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1990. Mus Ref ML 128 .O4 S8 1990
Use: A guide for the non-specialist to locate plots and descriptions of Operas, Operettas and associated material such as illustrations, historical background, criticism and analysis of musical themes, and bibliographical references, in a variety of sources.
Coverage: Covers information found in various significant and not-so-significant references as well as some sources specifically for young readers (according to the author). One hundred and sixty-nine books in 10 languages were indexed. Includes 2900 operatic works. No dictionaries, encyclopedias, catalogs, and similar reference books were cited. No clearly stated criteria of why the included operas were chosen.
Organization: Organized alphabetically by the name of the opera or operetta, etc. Each entry provides codes that symbolize different resources that include a plot and description of that specific opera. Each resource code is followed by another type code similar to an annotation. These codes symbolize critique topics such as whether or not the plot description is extensive or general, or whether the book has illustrations, etc. A list of the Opera Plot resources cited plus their three letter codes and a list of the descriptive codes that follow are located near the front. A detailed guide to the use of the opera index is included for further aid to the use of this book.
Pros: Helpful preface and user guide. Codes make up for annotations and can be very helpful if the reader is familiar with them.
Cons: No annotations other than those in code form.