The collection of 3,421 items was donated in 1969 by New York rare book dealer Hans P. Kraus. It consists primarily of texts of Italian opera, but also includes Italian cantatas, serenatas, oratorios, dialogues and Passions. Dating from the seventeenth through the twentieth century, the collection documents musical performances by Italian, French, German and Austrian composers given mostly in Italian cities, but also in Vienna and elsewhere.
The earliest item in the collection is the libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini for "La Dafne," performed in 1598, published in Florence in 1600, and generally considered to be the first opera. Also included is the first edition of Rinuccini's "L'Euridice," produced in Florence in 1600 for the marriage of Henry IV of France and Maria de' Medici, and the earliest opera for which the music survives.
Noted librettists represented in the collection in addition to Rinuccini are Apostolo Zeno, Pietro Metastasio, and Arrigo Boito. Composers include Giuseppe Verdi, Domenico Cimarosa, Giovanni Paisiello, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioacchino Rossini.
For detailed information about holdings, please consult the Kraus Libretti database.