Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2010 Newsletter

Collection of Italian opera libretti now accessible through database

Libretto. Click to enlarge.

Title page of the libretto for Jacopo Peri and Ottavio Rinuccini's L'Euridice, Florence, 1600.

A major collection of Italian opera libretti is now accessible through an online database at the Ransom Center.

The collection of 3,421 items was donated in 1969 by the New York rare book dealer Hans P. Kraus. The collection consists primarily of texts of Italian opera, but also includes Italian cantatas, serenatas, oratorios, dialogues, and Passions. The collection, which dates from the seventeenth through the twentieth century, documents musical performances by Italian, French, German, and Austrian composers performed in numerous Italian cities, Vienna, and elsewhere.

Significant individual items in the Kraus libretti collection include the first edition of what is generally considered to be the earliest opera, Ottavio Rinuccini's "La Dafne" (Florence, 1600), written and performed before 1597. Also present is the first edition of Rinuccini's "L'Euridice," produced in Florence in 1600 for the marriage of Henry IV of France with Maria de'Medici, and the earliest opera for which music is preserved. Other important works include Ludwig van Beethoven's "Fidelio" (Rome, 1886) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Il Flauto Magico" (Milan, 1886), and "Il Don Giovanni" (Florence, 1818).

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