Tag: libretti (page 2 of 2)

Newly Digitized: 19th-century Opera

Happy New Year! In this group of digital scores, you’ll find operas from the first half of the 19th century, by Cherubini, Meyerbeer, and Spontini (as well as one early Donizetti libretto). Get these, and nearly 600 other scores, in our collection of Digital Scores and Libretti.

Luigi Cherubini, 1760-1842.
[Deux journées]
Les deux journées: opéra en trois actes / par le c.en Bouilly …; mis en musique par le c.en Chérubini. Paris: Gaveaux, rue St. Marc N. 10, [181-?].
Merritt Room Mus 637.1.675.2

A full score of Cherubini’s popular rescue opera (see our earlier post for a digitized copy of the vocal score).

Guillaume Gaveaux (Gaveaux ainé) was one of a family of music publishers and merchants active in Paris between 1794 and 1832; the full imprint in this copy is covered by a label reading “Chez Mme. Duhan & Cie. … Boulvard Poissoniere No. 10.” One of a number of women in the Parisian music business, Jeanne-Elisabeth Duhan was also associated with manufacture and sale of early lithographed music printed by Louise-Gabrielle Vernay’s Imprimerie Lithographique.1

Gaspare Spontini, 1774-1851.

[Vestale. Vocal score]
La vestale : tragédie lyrique en trois actes / de mr. de Jouy; mise en musique par Gaspard Spontini; réduite pour piano. Paris: Melles. Erard, [1822?].
Mus 813.2.608

A vocal score, with some instrumental cues, of Spontini’s first grand opera and greatest success, premiered – with the Empress Josephine’s patronage – at the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique on December 15, 1807.

Soon after, Jouy wrote a parody of his own work for the Théatre du Vaudeville. Read the libretto, and his account of its creation, in his collected works: La Marchande de Modes: parodie de La Vestale (full text online).

[Fernand Cortez. Vocal score]
Fernand Cortez: opéra / par G. Spontini; arrangé pour le piano. Paris: Imbault; Melles. Érard, [1809?].
Mus 813.2.623

A vocal score of the first version of Spontini’s second grand opera, premiered November 28, 1809. Napoleon had commissioned the libretto, loosely based on Cortez’s 1520 invasion of Mexico, as a propaganda piece in support of his Spanish campaigns during the Pennisular War. While the first version was withdrawn after 13 performances, a second opened in 1817 with a revised libretto to suit the political climate of the Bourbon Restoration – and with greater success.

Giacomo Meyerbeer, 1791-1864.
[Emma di Resburgo. Vocal score. German & Italian]
Emma von Roxburgh: grosse Oper in zwei Aufzügen / componirt von J. Meyerbeer; vollständiger Klavier-Auszug mit deutschem und italienischem text von J.P. Schmidt. Berlin: in der Schlesingerschen Buch- und Musikhandlung; Schlesinger, [1820?].
Mus 743.3.676

Meyerbeer’s first Venetian commission (premiered at San Benedetto, June 26, 1819), and his first international success. A German-language production opened in Berlin in February of 1820.2

Gaetano Donizetti, 1797-1848.
[Elisir d’amore. Libretto]
L’elisir d’amore: melodramma giocoso in due atti: da rappresentarsi nel Teatro Carlo Felice, l’autunno dell’anno 1833. Genova: Stamperia Arcivesovile, [1833].
Merritt Room ML51.D683 E42 1833

A libretto from one of the earliest performances of L’elisir d’amore, performed at Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice. Donizetti’s popular melodrama had opened the year before at Milan’s Teatro alla Canobbiana and was quickly produced at opera houses throughout Europe.

-Kerry Masteller


1. On 18th and 19th century music publishing in Paris, see Anik Devriès and François Lesure, Dictionnaire des èditeurs de musique français (Genève: Éditions Minkoff, 1979-1988); Cecil Hopkinson, A Dictionary of Parisian Music Publishers, 1700-1950 (London: 1954). On the Imprimerie lithographique, see Michael Twyman, Early lithographed music: a study based on the H. Baron Collection (London: Farrand, 1996): 247-254.

2. On production histories, see Alfred Loewenberg, Annals of Opera: 1597-1940, 3rd rev. ed. (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1978).

In the Digital Scores Collection: Verdi Vocal Scores and Libretti

As we near our goal of digitizing the Music Library’s collection of first editions and notable variants of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas, these vocal scores and libretti have been added to the digital scores collection:

  • Giovanna d’Arco: dramma lirico in quattro parti da rappresentarsi nel regio Teatro il carnovale del 1845-46, alla presenza delle LL. SS. RR. MM. Torino: Tipografia dei fratelli Favale, [1845].
    Merritt Room Mus 577.322.11

    An early edition of the libretto, published with two ballet scenarios by Luigi Astolfi: Alma, ossia, La figlia del fuoco and Il consiglio di Recluta.

  • Il finto Stanislao: melodramma giocoso in due atti / de Felice Romani; posto in musica dal maestro Giuseppe Verdi; riduzione per canto con accompagnamento di pianoforte dei L. Truzzi, A. Rajneri e C. Dominiceti. Milano: G. Ricordi, [1846].
    Mus 857.1.605.5
    Hopkinson 38B(a)

    The first complete edition of the vocal score. After one performance at La Scala in 1840, with the title Un Giorno di Regno, Il Finto Stanislao was next produced in 1845 in Venice.

  • Attila : dramma lirico in tre atti con prologo / poesia di T. Solera ; musica di Gius. Verdi ; canto con accompto. di piano forte. [1st ed.]. Milano : F. Lucca, [1846].
    Mus 857.1.616.5
    Hopkinson, 45A(a)

    The first complete edition of the first version, premiered at La Fenice in 1846.

  • L’assedio di Arlem: tragedia lirica in quattro atti / posta in musica del maestro Giuseppe Verdi; riduzione per canto con accomp. di pianoforte di E. Muzio. Milano: G. Ricordi, [1850].
    Mus 857.1.621.5
    Hopkinson, 50A A(b) 

    The confusing production and publication history of L’Assedio di Arlem/La Battaglia di Legnano reveals some of the changes that could be made to accommodate the political climates of different cities (and the demands of censors). When premiered in 1849 in Rome – as La Battaglia di Legnano – this patriotic opera was set in 1176 during the struggles of the Lombard League against Frederick Barbarossa and the Holy Roman Empire. In the aftermath of failed revolutions against the Austrian Empire, however, such an obviously nationalistic subject was viewed with suspicion: while this variant of the first complete edition, published in Austrian-governed Milan, preserves the original music, it moves the action of the work instead to 16th-century Haarlem, during the Eighty Years’ War between the Dutch provinces and the Spanish Habsburg Empire.1

  • Rigoletto : melodramma di F.M. Piave ; musica del maestro G. Verdi ; riduzioni per canto con accomp. di pfte. di Luigi Truzzi. Milano : G. Ricordi, [1852].
    Merritt Room Mus 857.1.559 

    A variant of the first complete edition, not listed in Hopkinson.

  • Un ballo in maschera : melodramma tragico in tre atti / musica di G. Verdi ; riduzione per canto e pianoforte di Luigi ed Alessandro Truzzi. Milan : Ricordi, [1860].
    Merritt Room Mus 857.1.678.7 PHI 

    An early edition of the vocal score, not listed in Hopkinson.

  • Simon Boccanegra : melodramma in un prologo e tre atti / di F. M. Piave ; musica di G. Verdi. Milano : R. Stabilimento Ricordi, [1881].
    Merritt Room Mus 689.630.360.9 PHI 

    The first edition of the revised version of the libretto, from the La Scala staging of 1880-1881.


1. For more information about the composition and publication of L’Assedio di Arlem, see Cecil Hopkinson, A Bibliography of the Works of Giuseppe Verdi, 1813-1901 (New York: Broude Brothers, 1973-1978) and Roger Parker, “La Battaglia di Legnano“, in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online (access restricted to Harvard affiliates).

– Kerry Masteller

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