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A short guide to opera history and scholarship.

Basic Resources

In the Catalog

Opera scores are mostly classed in M1500 (full scores) and M1503 (piano-vocal scores). Books about opera are not in a single location because they may be classed according to historical period or geographical area. 

If you need to filter one or the other out of your catalog search results, you can use the formats dropdown on the Advanced Search page to limit your searches to only books or only scores, or you can use the facets on the left side of the search results screen to narrow your results.

Under the Subject: Topic heading, the term for works about opera is Opera.  The term for things that are operas is Operas.



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Scholarly Opera Journals


Finding Libretti

Most opera recordings include the libretto, usually with a translation, but they are also sometimes published separately, either commercially or for specific performances.  These can mostly be found in a few places in the library:

  • ML48 - Libretto collections dealing with multiple composers or librettists
  • ML49 - Libretto collections dealing with one composer or librettist
  • ML50 - Individual libretti of single operas

Works about libretti as are classed in ML2110.

Selected Libretto Collections - General

Selected Libretto Collections - Specific Composers

Online Libretto Sources

Translations and Diction


Diction and Pronunciation

In addition to IPA Source (see above), books about diction in singing are found in MT872 and MT883.  These include general works about diction as well as in-depth guides to specific languages or repertoires.

A small sample of titles is presented below:

History and Musicology

General Opera History Books

Some Prolific Writers on Opera

Scholars tend to specialize.  If you see an author's name pop up several times when searching for information about a topic, odds are that doing a search for that author will turn up additional material that's helpful to you.

That said, "opera" is an enormously broad topic, and it can be hard to know where to start looking, particularly if you're new to the subject or to academic research.  To that end, this page provides a very incomplete list of authors who have written extensively about some aspect of opera, with links to FSU catalog, RILM and Google Scholar searches, along with some advice on leveraging the power of citations.


Carolyn Abbate

Wagner, music and meaning, narrative, opera and gender

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Charles Dill

18th-century opera, French opera, Rameau, opera and literature, opera criticism

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Linda B. Fairtile

Puccini, Verdi

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Philip Gossett

Italian opera, Donizetti, Rossini, Verdi, compositional process, editorial practice, opera performance

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Daniel Heartz

18th-century opera, French opera, Italian opera, Farinelli, Metastasio, Mozart

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

David Kimbell

19th-century opera, Italian opera, Handel, Verdi, Vivaldi, opera and Romanticism

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Katherine K. Preston

19th-century opera, American music, opera in America

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Cormac Newark

19th-century opera, French opera, grand opera, Rossini

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Ellen Rosand

17th-century opera, Cavalli, Monteverdi, opera in Venice

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

John Rosselli

Bellini, Mozart, Verdi, opera as industry, opera and economics, opera and nationalism, opera and politics

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Reinhard Strohm

18th-century opera, Handel, Vivaldi, opera and drama

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Richard Taruskin

Russian opera, opera in Russia

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

John Warrack

German opera, Wagner, Weber

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Piero Weiss

18th-century opera, Italian opera, primary sources in opera

Catalog | RILM | Google Scholar

Citation Chaining

If you have trouble finding much information relvant to your topic, a useful and efficient strategy is "citation chaining": checking the bibliographies or other citations in a relevant article or book you know about to find more articles or books that are also relevant to your topic.  These in turn may point you to still more relevant works, and so on.

Cite It Forward

The obvious problem with citation chaining in this way is that it only goes one direction: backwards.  There are some limited tools available to help you find articles that cite a source after it was written, although unfortunately they are much less comprehensive for the humanities than they are for the sciences.

If you have used Google Scholar you have probably noticed that most article listings have a Cited By link under the entry, which will show you later articles that cite the work in question.

Another tool with a similar function is Web of Knowledge's Arts and Humanities Citation Index.  However, this functionality for music searches in Web of Knowledge is still extremely rudimentary.

Performance History and Production

Opera Production

Books specifically about opera and musical theater production are classed in MT955

MT955 includes books dealing with the subject in general as well as specific repertory.  However, other relevant items may lurk elsewhere, especially if they deal with elements such as staging or costume design also applicable to conventional theater. 

Try refining a search starting with one of these subject headings:


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Performances and Casts


Opera Company Archives

Opera Companies

Opera Companies

In the present day most if not all significant opera companies maintain a web site, although these vary greatly in the usefulness of the information they provide.  Large companies and houses will probably have entries in major reference works like New Grove/Oxford Music Online and Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.

There are also reference works that deal specifically with opera companies, providing details such as history, repertory, significant premieres, contact information, and in some cases bibliographies.  Several of these are listed below:

Opera Company Archives

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