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Opera: Librettos & Synopses

Librettos & Synopses

You can find librettos and synopses in the Fine Arts Library's collections, eBooks, and on dozens of web sites. Below are just a few to get you started. Another great source for librettos is booklets included with CDs of operas in the Fine Arts Library.

Librettos : Resources in the Library

The University of Kentucky Libraries uses the Library of Congress Classification System for call numbers. Librettos can be found under ML50 and then alphabetical by composer. Collections of librettos can be found under ML48 and ML49. Check the Reference section, too, for librettos with IPA. You can browse the shelves or search by call number in InfoKat Discovery.

Browse librettos by call number (ML48-ML50) in InfoKat Discovery.

Librettos : Leyerle Publications "Castel IPA Books"

The Little Fine Arts Library Reference section holds Leyerle's publications of librettos, which are sometimes referred to as the "Castel IPA books." Below are a few of the titles in this series:

Librettos : Microform Collections in the Library

Librettos : IPA Source


IPA Source provides over 11,000 aria texts with IPA transcriptions and word-by-word translations.

Librettos Online : HathiTrust Digital Library


Over 3,000 public domain librettos are available at HathiTrust. Click here to execute a search for librettos at HathiTrust.

Librettos Online : IMSLP

In additional to scores, you can also find librettos on IMSLP. Click here to retreive a list of librettos currently available on IMSLP.

Librettos Online : Raccolta Drammatica


Raccolta Drammatica from the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense's Ufficio Ricerca Fondi Musicali offers over 8,000 downloadable librettos and synopses.

Librettos Online : Schatz Collection


The Albert Schatz Collection at the Library of Congress totals over 12,000 operatic and 238 oratorio and cantata librettos, including many first and early Italian, German and French editions from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Librettos Online : University of North Texas


UNT's Digital Library--Librettos
provides access to a number of 18th-century librettos.

Librettos Online : Internet Archive


Thousands of librettos are available at the Internet Archive. Use the Advanced Search option to begin your search.

Librettos Online : German Historical Institute, Rome

From the Music History Department of the German Historical Institute in Rome, this collection contains 1,500 historical libretto prints from L’Andromeda by Francesco Manelli (1637) and the early days of opera in Venice, since the opening of the first public opera houses, up to the year 1734.

Librettos Online : Opernführer


Along with librettos, Opernführer, contains information on premieres and original casts.

Synopses : Resources in the Library

Synopses from Naxos Music Library

The Naxos Music Library is not only a streaming service, it has synopses and character lists for hundreds of operas. Click here to access NML's Synopses. You can also go to Naxos Music Library and search under the Resources Tab: Opera.

Librettos Online : Opera Glass

In addition to librettos (many with translations), OperaGlass at Stanford University also contains information on source texts and synopses.

Librettos Online : Libretto Index

Libretto Index contains links to hundreds of digitized libretti from VnF's Gallica, Libretti d'opera Italiani, Bayerischen Staatsbibliotek, and others. Some dead links.

Librettos Online : Metastasio


Drammi per Musica
compares different versions of librettos from the 1700s by Metastasio. The site is in Italian.

Librettos Online : Libretti d'Opera Italiani


Italian librettos can be found at Libretti d'Opera Italiani.
English, French, German, and Russian librettos can be found at its sister site Operalib.Edu.