Theatrical Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Theatrical Encyclopedias and Dictionaries


systematically compiled scholarly reference works devoted to the theater, containing information on the history and theory of the theater and on acting, directing, and administration, as well as biographies of theatrical figures, the literary and stage histories of plays, notes on individual theaters, and bibliographical indexes.

Some theatrical reference works encompass all areas of the theatrical arts, and others deal with such closely related fields as motion pictures, estrada (the variety stage), and the circus. Still others are devoted to more specialized fields, for example, ballet or opera, or consist entirely of biographical articles of theatrical figures, definitions of theatrical terminology, or the stage history of plays.

Theatrical encyclopedias first appeared as an independent form of scholarly reference work in the second half of the 18th century. Notable early works included A. de Leris’s Dictionnaire portatif des theatres (Paris, 1754), S.-R.-N. Chamfort and J. de Laporte’s Dictionnaire dramatique (vols. 1–3; Paris, 1776), and C. Compan’s Dictionnaire de danse (Paris, 1787; Russian translation, 1790).

A major Russian reference work of the 18th century was A Dramatic Dictionary, or Alphabetical Listings of All Russian Theatrical Works and Translations, the Names of Well-known Authors, Translators, and Composers of Music, When and Where These Works Were Presented in Theaters, and When and Where They Were Published (Moscow, 1787). This work, reprinted in St. Petersburg in 1880, is a valuable source for the study of 18th-century drama, as well as the history of the theater. Later works published in Russia included A Dictionary of Figures of the Stage (vols. 1–16; St. Petersburg, 1898–1904) and An Encyclopedia of Self-training for the Stage (vols. 1–6; St. Petersburg, 1909–13).

The most important foreign encyclopedias include Allgemeines Theater-Lexikon oder Encyklopädie alles Wissenswerten für Bühnenkünstler (Altenburg-Leipzig, 1839–42) and Enciclopedia dello spettacolo (vols. 1–9; Rome, 1954–66), which, along with its supplements, is devoted to world drama and musical theater, as well as the cinema, circus, and variety stage.

A major Soviet work is The Theatrical Encyclopedia (vols. 1–5, 1961–67); this work, with its supplements and index, contains information on the drama and musical theater, the variety stage, and the circus of Russia, the peoples of the USSR, and foreign countries. Other significant Soviet reference works are G. Bernandt’s Dictionary of Operas First Staged or Published in Prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR: 1736–1959 (Moscow, 1962), A. Gozenpud’s Opera Dictionary (Moscow-Leningrad, 1965), K. S. Stanislavsky’s Acting Skills: Terms and Definitions (Moscow, 1961), E. Ia. Surits’ dictionary All About Ballet (Moscow-Leningrad, 1966), and the concise encyclopedia The Circus by A. Ia. Shneer and R. E. Slavskii (Moscow, 1973).

The following is a list of major foreign encyclopedias and dictionaries on the theater.

Drama and general reference works

Dmuszewski, L., and A. Zolkowski. Dykcionarzyk teartalny. Poznan, 1808.

Pougin, A. Dictionnaire historique et pittoresque du théâtre et des arts quis’y rattachent. Paris, 1885.

Diccionnario de teatro portuguez. Lisbon, 1908.

Lexikon fun idichn theatr, vols. 1–5. New York-Warsaw-Mexico City, 1931–67.

The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. London, 1951; 3rd ed., 1967.

Hoyo, A. del. Teatro mundial: 1,700 argumentos de obras de teatro antíquo y moderno nacional y extranjero. Madrid, 1955.

Elteatro: Enciclopedia del arte escénico. Barcelona, 1958.

Engeki hyakka daijiten, vols. 1–6. (Encyclopedia of the Theater.) Tokyo, 1960–61.

Akiyama. Opera bire jiten. (Dictionary of Opera and Ballet.) Tokyo, 1961.

Hollertz, M. Litet teaterlexikon. [Nyare och äldre fackuttryck: Dramatiker, skádespelare, regissiörer, dekoratörer, opera-, operett-, och balletartister.] Stockholm, 1959.

Smoley, V. Slovenski dramski leksikon, vols. 1–2. Ljubljana, 1961–62.

Stankovsky, J. J. Divadelni Slovnic. Prague, 1876.

Hrvatsko narodno kazulište: 1894–1969; Enciklopedijsko izdanje. Zagreb, 1969.


Desrat, G. Dictionnaire de la danse historique, théorique, pratique et bibliographique, depuis l’origine de la danse jusqu’ä nos jours. Paris, 1895.

Hazan, F. Dictionnaire du ballet moderne. Paris, 1957.

Baril, J. Dictionnaire de danse. Paris, 1967.

Reyna, F. Dictionnaire des ballets. Paris, 1967.

Beaumont, C. Complete Book of Ballets. New York, 1938.

Chujoy, A., and P. W. Manchester. The Dance Encyclopedia. New York, 1949; 2nd ed., 1967.

Wilson, G. A Dictionary of Ballet. New York, 1961.

Raffe, W. G. Dictionary of the Dance. New York-London, 1964.

Grant, G. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet. New York, 1967.

Rebling, E. Ballet von A bis Z. Berlin, 1966.


Clement, F., and P. Larousse. Dictionnaire lyrique ou histoire des opéras, contenant ;’analyse et la nomenclature de tous les opéras et opéras-comiques representes en France et à l’étranger. Paris, 1867–69.

Riemann, H. Opern-Handbuch. Leipzig, 1887.

Krause, E. Oper von A-Z. Leipzig, 1964.

Schneidereit, O. Operettenbuch. Berlin, 1964.

Upton, G. Standard Operas: Their Plots and Their Music. Chicago, 1916.

Even, D. Encyclopedia of the Opera. London, 1956.

Moore, F. L. Crowell’s Handbook of World Opera. New York, 1961.

Rosenthal, H., and J. Warrack. Concise Oxford Dictionary of Operas. London, 1964.

Balassa, I., and G. S. Gál. Putevoditel’ po operam (Operák könyve). Budapest, 1965.


Philpott, A. Dictionary of Puppetry. Boston, 1969.

Theatrical terminology

Granville, W. A Dictionary of Theatrical Terms. London, 1952.

International Vocabulary of Technical Theatre Terms in Eight Languages. London, 1959.

Bowman, W. P., and R. H. Ball. Theatre Language: A Dictionary of Terms in English of the Drama and Stage From Medieval to Modern Times. New York, 1961.

Kersley, L., and J. Sinclair. A Dictionary of Ballet Terms. London, 1964.

Glossary of the Theatre in English, French, Italian, and German. Amsterdam-London-New York, 1969.

Giteau, C. Dictionnaire des arts du spectacle (français-anglais-allemand). Paris, 1970.

Unrah, W. ABC der Theatertechnik. Halle, 1950; 2nd ed., 1959.