Lyle K. Neff

University of Delaware

Examples for paper presented at ALA Chicago, July 8, 2000

Copyright (c) 2000 by Lyle K. Neff

Example 1. Primary Websites for Libretti and Other Vocal Texts

Major Online Sources of Libretti and Links Thereto:
OperaGlass -- http://opera.stanford.edu/opera/index.html#libretti  ;  http://opera.stanford.edu/libretti/
Kareol --http://www.supercable.es/~ealmagro/kareol/
Collection Ulric Voyer -- http://www.geocities.com/voyerju/libretti.html
La Fenice -- http://web.tin.it/la_fenice/indici/Libind/frindpr.htm

Robert Frone's French Opera Site -- http://www.castle.net/~rfrone/operas/raf-sfo.htm
Gilbert and Sullivan Archive -- http://diamond.boisestate.edu/gas/index.html

Aria Database -- http://www.aria-database.com

Texts with printed music or with sound:
Online Opera Scores Prototype -- http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/scores.html
Classical MIDI with Words -- http://www.recmusic.org/midi/
Gilbert and Sullivan Archive MIDI Home Page -- http://diamond.boisestate.edu/gas/midi/html/midi_home.html

Song, Oratorio, Cantata, Liturgy, Hymn, etc.:
Emily Ezust's Lieder Page -- http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/lieder.html
Joachim Vogelsänger's Textliste -- http://home.t-online.de/home/jo_vo/textlist.htm
Zemerl -- Jewish Song Database -- http://www.princeton.edu/zemerl/
50 Years of Hebrew Song -- http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00tx0
Liturgy Resources -- http://www.ozemail.com.au/~acolyte/Resource.htm
Labyrinth Latin Library -- http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/latin/latin-lib.html
Christian Classics Ethereal Library -- http://ccel.org/

Example 2. Select Bibliography of Sources for Libretti and Other Texts

Mixed Collections

The book of 101 opera librettos: complete original language [sic] texts with English translations. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1996. 1474 pages (Click here for list of titles included in this book.)

Dix cycles de lieder = Ten cycles of lieder: Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Schubert, Schumann: traduction mot a mot, accent tonique par Marie-Terese Paquin. Montreal: Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, 1977.

German opera, 1770-1880. Librettos. New York: Garland, 1985-

Harrison, Donna Esselstyn. Poetry in song literature: a handbook for students of singing. Evanston, Ill.: Wm. Caxton, c1989.

Italian opera librettos, 1640-1770. Intro. by Howard Mayer Brown. New York: Garland, 1978-

Jeffers, Ron. Translations and annotations of choral repertoire. Corvallis, Or.: Earthsongs, c1988- (Vol. 1. Sacred Latin texts.)

Kaldis, Cynthia. Latin music through the ages. Wauconda, Ill.: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, c1991. (Includes poetical works in Latin with English translation.)

Masters of the Italian art song: word-by word and poetic translations of the complete songs for voice and piano by Timothy LeVan. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.

Miller, Philip Lieson. The ring of words: an anthology of song texts. The original texts selected and translated, with and introduction. New York: W.W. Norton, [1973].

The opera libretto library: the authentic [sic] texts of the German, French, and Italian operas with music of the principal airs, with the complete English and German, French, or Italian parallel texts. New York: Avenel Books, 1980. (Reprint of three vols. originally published: New York: Crown Publishers, 1939.)

Phillips, Lois. Lieder, line by line and word for word. 1st U.S. ed. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1980, c1979.

Piatak, Jean and Regina Avrashov. Russian songs & arias: phonetic readings, word-by-word translations, and a concise guide to Russian diction. Dallas, Tex.: Pst...Inc., 1991. (WARNING: This book has far too many problems to be useful to singers. Check the review by Laurence Richter in Slavic and East European Journal, v. 38, no. 2 [summer 1994], p. 401-404.)

Pocket Opera - Pippin English Versions [http://www.pocketopera.org/libretti.htm]

Prawer, Siegbert Salomon. The Penguin book of Lieder. Edited and translated. New York: Penguin Books, [1964]. (Penguin reference book, R25)

Russkii muzykal'nyi teatr 1700-1835 gg.: khrestomatiia. Sostavil prof. S.L. Ginzburg. Leningrad: Iskusstvo, 1941. (Contains brief histories, synopses, and libretto excerpts.)

Stikhotvornaia komediia, komicheskaia opera, vodevil' kontsa XVIII-nachala XIX veka: v 2 tomakh /?. Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel', Leningradskoe otd-nie, 1990. (Biblioteka poeta. Bolshaia seriia)

Word-by-word translations of songs and arias, by Gerton Coffin, Werner Singer [and] Pierre Delattre. New York: Scarecrow Press, 1966-1972. 

Libretti according to composer
Bach, Johann Sebastian

Texte zu den Kantaten, Motetten, Messen, Passionen und Oratorien von Johann Sebastian Bach. Vorgelegt von Christine Frode. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1986.

Brahms, Johannes

Brahms-Texte: sämtliche von Johannes Brahms vertönten und bearbeiteten Texte. Die Sammlung von Gustav Ophuls, vervollstaendigt und neu herausgegeben von Kristian Wachinger; mit drei Zeichnungen von Willy von Beckerath. Ebenhausen bei München: Langewiesche-Brandt, c1983.

Cui, César Antonovich [Kiui, Tsezar' Antonovich]

Feast in Time of Plague

o Neff, Lyle K. "César Cui's Opera Feast in Time of Plague," in The Pushkin Review, v. 1, 1998. (Contains entire libretto in Russian (Cyrillic) with parallel English singing translation.)

Debussy, Claude

The poetic Debussy: a collection of his song texts and selected letters. Edited by Margaret G. Cobb; translations by Richard Miller. Rev. 2nd. ed. Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 1994. (Eastman studies in music, 1071-9989)

The singer's Debussy. Edited, with introductions and translations, by Marie-Claire Rohinsky. 1st ed. New York: Pelion Press, 1987.

Handel, G. F.

The librettos of Handel's operas: a collection of seventy librettos documenting Handel's operatic career. General editor, Ellen T. Harris. New York: Garland, 1989. 13 v.

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

The librettos of Mozart's operas. General editor, Ernest Warburton. New York: Garland Pub., 1992. 7 v.

Puccini, Giacomo

The complete Puccini libretti. Edited by Nico Castel. Genesio, NY: Leyerle Publications, 1993-

Rachmaninoff, Sergei Vasil'evich

The singer's Rachmaninoff. Edited, with introductions and translations by Natalia Challis. 1st ed. New York: Pelion Press, 1989. (WARNING to singers: the IPA transcriptions in this book are not accurate.)

Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai Andreevich

Christmas Eve

o The night before Christmas = Noch' pered Rozhdestvom: an opera in four acts (nine scenes) based on a story from Nicolai Gogol's Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov; English version by Peteris Silins and Richard Strawn. 1977. (Inscribed photocopy of Russian/German vocal score: Leipzig: M.P. Belaieff, [19--], with interlinear English singing translation added by hand. Held by Indiana University Music Library.)

o Taylor, Philip. Gogolian interludes: Gogol's story "Christmas Eve" as the subject of the operas by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. London: Collets, 1984.

The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia

o Skazanie o nevidimom grade Kitezhe i deve Fevronii. Vladimir Ivanovich Bel'skii; opera-misteriia N.A. Rimskogo-Korsakova. Photocopy of typescript, 25 p. (Held by Indiana University Music Library.)

Schubert, Franz

hnenwerke: kritische Gesamtausgabe der Texte. Herausgegeben von Christian Pollack. Tutzing: Hans Schneider, c1988. 

Franz Schubert: die Texte seiner einstimmig komponierten Lieder und ihre Dichter. Vollstaendig gesammelt und kritische hrsg. von Maximilian und Lilly Schochow. Hildesheim; New York: G. Olms, 1974. 2 v.

Schubert: the complete song texts -- texts of the Lieder and Italian songs. With English translations. Trans. by Richard Wigmore. Forword by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Schirmer Books: New York, 1988.

Schumann, Robert

The singer's Schumann. Edited, with introductions and translations by Thilo Reinhard. 1st ed. New York, NY: Pelion Press, 1989.

Strauss, Richard

Die Texte der Lieder. Kritische Ausgabe von Reinhold Schlotterer. Pfaffenhofen: W. Ludwig Verlag, 1988. (Veröffentlichungen der Richard-Strauss-Gesellschaft, München; Bd. 10)

Sullivan, Sir Arthur

Asimov's annotated Gilbert and Sullivan. Notes by Isaac Asimov. 1st ed. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Authentic libretti of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. With a foreword by Frederick Hobbs ... Including famous musical selections and original "Bab" illustrations by Sir. W.S. Gilbert. 1st ed. New York: The Bass Publishers, [1934].

Dixon, Geoffrey. The Gilbert and Sullivan concordance: a word index to W.S. Gilbert's libretti for the fourteen Savoy operas. New York: Garland Pub., 1989. 2 v.

Tchaikovsky, Piotr Il'ich


o Cherevichki: opera in four acts by Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky; libretto [by Yakov Polonsky]; translated by Philip Taylor. London: Collets, 1981. (Reissued, along with original text in Taylor'sGogolian interludes [see under Rimsky-Korsakov].)

Richter, Lawrence R. Tchaikovsky's complete song texts: Russian texts of the complete songs of Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky with phonetic transcriptions, literate and idiomatic English translations. Geneseo, N.Y.: Leyerle Publications, c1999.

Verdi, Giuseppe

The complete Verdi librettos. Ed. by Nico Castel. Geneseo, NY: Leyerle Publications, 1994-

Example 3. Select Bibliography of Sources about Libretti and Other Texts

(Check also the bibliography under "Libretto" in the New Grove Dictionary of Opera)

History and Bibliography
Fuld, James J. The book of world-famous libretti: the musical theater from 1598 to today. Rev. ed. New York: Pendragon Press, 1994.

O'Grady, Deirdre. The last troubadours: poetic drama in Italian opera, 1597-1887. London: Routledge, 1991.

Smith, Patrick J. The tenth muse: a historical study of the opera libretto. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1970. (Deals with only Italian, French, and German; includes bibliography.)

General study, analysis, criticism, etc.
Clement, Catherine. Opera, or, The undoing of Women. Translated by Betsy Wing; foreword by Susan McClary. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, c1988. (This book has been criticized for having virtually nothing to do with the music of operas, and little even with the libretti, but mainly the plots.)

Conrad, Peter. Romantic opera and literary form. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, c1977.

Gianakaris, C.J. "Teaching drama and opera," in Ars Lyrica, v6 (1992) p. 25-33.

Herman, Mark and Ronnie Apter. "Words and music: a theatrical partnership," in Opera Journal, v. 25, no. 4 (1992) p. 3-24.

MacDonald, Hugh. "The prose libretto", in Cambridge Opera Journal, v.1, no.2 (1989), p. 167-194.

Pascoe, David. "Taking liberties with English libretti," in Essays in Criticism, v. 44, no. 2 (Apr. 1994), p. 81-

Reading opera. Edited by Arthur Groos and Roger Parker. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, c1988. (Mostly essays from a conference held at Cornell University, Oct. 1986.)

Schmidgall, Gary. Literature as opera. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Yellin, Victor Fell. "Sullivan and Thomson, Gilbert and Stein," in Journal of Musicology, v. 11, no. 4 (Fall 1993), p. 478-

Particular composers, librettists, and works
Adams, John

Griffiths, Eric. "Words for Music," in TLS. Times Literary Supplement, no. 4607 (July 19, 1991), p. 12. (Alice Goodman's libretti for Nixon in China and Death of Klinghoffer.)

Corigliano, John

The Ghosts of Versailles

o Hoffman, William M. "Confessions of a librettist: how Rossini's Barbiere influenced The Ghosts of Versailles," in Opera News, v.59, no.15 (Apr. 15, 1995) p. 8-

Puccini, Giacomo

Madama Butterfly

o Groos, Arthur. "The lady vanishes: the lost act of Madama Butterfly," in Opera News, v. 59, no. 8 (Jan. 7, 1995), p. 16-

Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai Andreevich

The Barber of Baghdad (unfinished)

o Gozenpud, A.A. "Neosushchestvlennyi opernyi zamysel." Muzykal'noe nasledstvo. Rimskii-Korsakov: issledovaniia, materialy, pis'ma, v dvukh tomakh. Moskva: Izd-vo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1954; T. II, p. 253-260. (Includes prose and versified renderings of the libretto of Act I.)

Christmas Eve

o Taylor, Philip. Gogolian interludes: Gogol's story "Christmas Eve" as the subject of the operas by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. London: Collets, 1984. (Includes transliterations and translations for the two libretti, as well as translations of the original story and of music reviews by contemporaries of the composers.)

Edmunds, Catherine J. Puškin and Gogol as sources for the librettos of the fantastic fairy tale operas of Rimskij-Korsakov. Thesis (Ph.D.) -- Harvard University, 1985.

Gozenpud, A.A. "Iz nabljudenii nad tvocheskim protsessom Rimskogo-Korsakova. II. Rimskii-Korsakov v rabote nad opernym libretto". Muzykal'noe nasledstvo. Rimskii-Korsakov: issledovaniia, materialy, pis'ma, v dvukh tomakh. Moskva: Izd-vo Akademiia nauk SSSR, 1953; T.I, p. 208-251.

Neff, Lyle K. "Close to Prose, or Worse than Verse? Rimsky-Korsakov's Intermediate Type of Opera Text," in Opera Quarterly, v. 15, no. 2, Winter 1998.

Stravinsky, Igor Fedorovich

Oedipus Rex

o Bauschatz, Paul. "Oedipus: Stravinsky and Cocteau recompose Sophocles," in Comparative Literature, v. 43 no. 2 (Spring 1991), p..150-

Tchaikovsky, Piotr Il'ich


o Taylor, Philip. Gogolian interludes: [see under Rimsky-Korsakov].

Poetics and Versification
Unbegaun, B.O. Russian versification. Corrected ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

Translation Issues
Apter, Ronnie. "The impossible takes a little longer: translating opera into English," in Translation Review, no. 30/31 (1990), p. 27-37.

-------. "Questions of quantity: some difficulties in translating opera for performance in English," in Ars Lyrica, v. 4 (1989), p. 19-28.

Copyright Office at Library of Congress [http://www.loc.gov/copyright/]

Graham, Arthur. "A new look at recital song translation," in Translation Review, n29 (1989) p. 31-37.

Machlis, Joseph. "On translating a Russian opera." Russian and Soviet music: essays for Boris Schwarz. Edited by Malcolm Hamrick Brown. (Russian Music Studies; no. 11) Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, c1984; p. 221-227. (On the author's English version of Prokofiev's War and Peace.)

King, Martha. "An interview with William Weaver," in Translation Review, no. 14 (1984), p. 4-9.

Merkling, Frank. "Opera in English?" in Musical America, v. 76 (Feb. 15, 1956) p. 18-19, 137, 226.

Pippin, Donald. "Turning Opera into English." [http://www.pocketopera.org/engtrans.htm]

Stapp, Marcie. The singer's guide to languages. 2nd ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Teddy's Music Press, 1991. (Publisher's address: Teddy's Music Press, 3425 Taraval St., San Francisco, CA 94116, Fax/Telephone 800-41-TEDDY.)

Stracher, Cameron, A. "An introduction to copyright law for translators," in Translation Review, no. 36/37 (1991), p. 12-14.

Zatlin, Phyllis. "Observations on theatrical translation," in Translation Review, no. 46 (1994) p. 14-18.

Translation Aids
Resources for Translators [http://www.iol.ie/~mazzoldi/lang/index.html]

La ricerca dell'infinito. San Francisco: Centro Studi Italiani, 1988. (An alphabetical list to identify the infinitives of over 9,000 poetic, archaic and irregular Italian verb forms, including homographs and homophones. It contains comparative tables of standard endings and poetic variants, and the indication of word stress and the closed or open pronunciation of vowels.)

Wood, Clement. Clement Wood's unabridged rhyming dictionary. Introd. by Ted Robinson. New York: New World Dictionaries/Prentice Hall Press, [1984], c1943.

Thomson, Robert. Italian for the Opera. Vancouver, BC: Godwin Books, 1993.

Example 4. Beginning of the "Haba?era" from Bizet's Carmen, Act I,
with four online translations of vintage April 22, 2000
French text from http://rick.stanford.edu/opera/Bizet/Carmen/acte1.html:
L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
et c'est bien en vain qu'on l'appelle,
s'il lui convient de refuser!
Rien n'y fait, menace ou prière,
l'un parle bien, l'autre se tait;
et c'est l'autre que je préfére,
il n'a rien dit, mais il me plaît.
Translation 1, from http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com:
The love is a rebellious bird that no one cannot tame, and it is well in vain that it is called, if it is advisable to him to refuse! Nothing made there, threat or prayer, one speak well, the other is keep silent; and it is the different one which I prefer, he did not say anything, but I likes him. 
Translation 2, from http://www.tranexp.com:2000/InterTran:
The love am a bird mutinous as hopeless [ne] tin tame, and is all right no avail [qu'on] the call, [s'il] her agrees about decline! Nil [n'y] does, menace or entreaty, [l'un] [parle] all right, [l'autre] herself [tait]; and is [l'autre] as I prefer, he [n'a] nil tell, but he [me] pleases
Translation 3, from http://www.freetranslation.com/:
Love is a bird rebels that any cannot apprivoiser, and this is well in vain that one calls it, if it suits for him to refuse! Nothing does not do there, threaten or prayer, the one speaks well, the other itself tait; and this is the other that I prefer, it not nothing said, but it pleases me. 
Translation 4, from http://www.alis.com/cgi-bin/transdemo.pl:
The love is a rebellious bird that no one cannot tame, and it is well in vain that it is called, if it is advisable to him to refuse! Nothing made there, threat or prayer, one speak well, the other is keep silent; and it is the other one than I, he did not say anything, but I prefer likes him. 

Copyright (c) 2000 by Lyle K. Neff

(Text revised Mar. 29, 2007 to update links)