libretto


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libretto

(ləbrĕt`ō) [Ital.,=little book], the text of an opera or an oratorio. Although a play usually emphasizes an integrated plot, a libretto is most often a loose plot connecting a series of episodes. Characterization and emotion are suggested by the words of a libretto but are expressed by the music. The first major librettist was Ottavio Rinuccini, an Italian poet of the 16th cent. Outstanding in the 17th cent. was Philippe QuinaultQuinault, Philippe
, 1635–88, French dramatist. His tragedies and comedies are affected and undistinguished, but he found an outlet for his talent in the 14 opera librettos which he wrote for Lully.
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, and in the 18th cent. important librettists were the poet Pietro MetastasioMetastasio, Pietro
, 1698–1782, Italian poet and librettist, whose original name was Antonio Bonaventura Trapassi. A prodigy at poetic improvisation, he became court poet at Vienna in 1729.
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, many of whose 50 libretti were set numerous times by major composers, Ranieri di Calzabigi, and Lorenzo Da PonteDa Ponte, Lorenzo
, 1749–1838, Italian librettist and teacher, b. Ceneda as Emmanuele Conegliano. Born Jewish, he converted to Catholicism at 14, became (1773) a priest, and shortly after ordination moved to Venice.
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. The 19th-century librettists of note included Augustin Eugène ScribeScribe, Augustin Eugène
, 1791–1861, French dramatist and librettist. He began his prolific and highly successful writing career with vaudeville sketches. One of the first playwrights to mirror bourgeois morality and life, he infused 19th-century French opera and
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, W. S. GilbertGilbert, Sir William Schwenck,
1836–1911, English playwright and poet. He won fame as the librettist of numerous popular operettas, written in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan.
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, and the composers Arrigo BoitoBoito, Arrigo
, 1842–1918, Italian composer and librettist. His opera Mefistofele (1868, rev. 1875), influenced by Wagner's music-drama, helped to bring about a new dramatic style in Italian opera.
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 and Richard WagnerWagner, Richard
, 1813–83, German composer, b. Leipzig. Life and Work

Wagner was reared in a theatrical family, had a classical education, and began composing at 17.
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; prominent in the 20th cent. was Hugo von HofmannsthalHofmannsthal, Hugo von
, 1874–1929, Austrian dramatist and poet. His first verses were published when he was 16 years old, and his play The Death of Titian (1892, tr. 1913) when he was 18.
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.

Libretto

 

the verbal text of a work of musical drama, such as an opera or operetta and, in the past, of a cantata or oratorio; a ballet scenario; a brief summary of the content of an opera, operetta, or ballet. The term came from the fact that in the late 17th century, opera librettos were often printed for theatergoers in the form of little booklets.

The libretto is the literary and dramatic basis of an opera. Until the mid-18th century, librettos were composed in a fixed pattern following standard musical and dramatic conventions. Thus, the same successful libretto was often used repeatedly by different composers. Later, the libretto was usually written by a librettist in close collaboration with the composer, and sometimes with his direct participation, ensuring better unity among action, words, and music.

In the 19th century, outstanding composers with literary and dramatic gifts began writing librettos for their operas themselves, including H. Berlioz, R. Wagner, A. Boito, and M. P. Mussorgsky. Such 20th-century composers as S. S. Prokofiev and K. Orff continued the practice.

The main sources of subjects for librettos are folk poetry, legends, fairytales, and professional works of literature. Literary works are usually significantly different in libretto form—for example, the basic concept of Pushkin’s Queen of Spades was revised in P. I. Tchaikovsky’s opera. Only in exceptional cases have dramatic works been used intact in librettos—for example, Dargomyzhskii’s The Stone Guest, based on Pushkin’s drama, and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, based on Maeterlinck’s play.

Librettos vary greatly in content, structure, application of a verse or prose text, and presence or absence of subdivisions of the text. The history of the libretto is inseparably linked with that of opera itself in all its generic and national varieties. Every type of opera in musical history has a corresponding type of libretto.

libretto

a text written for and set to music in an opera, etc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Libretto is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, where he earned his undergraduate degree in economics.
He essays the political background of the libretto, the character of Artemisia, and the juxtaposition of class levels in the work, as well as outlining the form and function of the interaction of each pair of lovers in the subplot.
2 and Josephus, was written (as the librettos dedication makes explicit) to celebrate the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-46, the final armed attempt in Britain to remove the ruling Protestant Hanoverians and restore the exiled Catholic Stuart monarchy.
In this case it is somewhat unsettling that the author does not clarify to the reader that the edition of the libretto she uses corresponds, in fact, to the Viennese performance on which she focuses--the book shows a reproduction of the cover page of the Venetian libretto, while the quotations are from a modern edition of Metastasio's collected works.
Unfortunately for Toshiba, whether it's the Libretto or the unnamed touch tablet, it might not matter.
It is introduced to justify the failure to discuss a text that is truly a collage libretto, that of Nono' Intolleranza 1960, which juxtaposes literary and documentary materials.
An anonymous sheaf of arias, seven of them corresponding in texts to arias from the libretto of the Prague Argippo, was found in the Furst Thurn und Taxis Hofbibliothek in Regensburg.
Though footnotes noting where the libretto is an exact quote or a paraphrase of its original literary source are present, Faust/Romeo Et Juliette is far more than a simple scholarly or literary reference; it is intended especially for anyone determined to faithfully produce, conduct, or perform Gounod's great operas regardless of their level of fluency in French, and to this end includes literary source footnotes and essays explaining the development of the libretti.
Munich native Christoph Staude has composed We, with a libretto by Hans-Georg Wegner, based on Jewgenij Samjatin's Utopian novel about a strictly egalitarian city made of glass.
Nobody knows Jean Borlin's original choreography, which replicated a black African Genesis myth, but Morris has doubtless perused Fernand Leger's famous decor and Blaise Cendrars' libretto.
7 THE LAPPETITES, BEFORE THE LIBRETTO (QUECK-SILBER) A stunning debut by this international, cross-generational quartet of female laptoppers, led by Kaffe Matthews.