THE OPERA COLLECTION
The Opera Collection stands as a significant indication of the scope and depth to which the Music Library aspires in its efforts to provide scholars with primary source material of outstanding quality. This collection contains over 2,200 volumes, primarily rare manuscripts and printed first editions, of operas and libretti composed between 1597 and 1900. Grants from the Office of the President of the University of Western Ontario and the Academic Development Fund enabled the Library to purchase two collections of rare materials in 1971 and 1974 from Mr. Richard Macnutt, a prominent English antiquarian. These purchases have formed the core of The Opera Collection, a collection which has made the Music Library one of the six main centres in North America for the study of pre-1800 opera.
Subsequent financial aid from the Library System itself, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC), the Faculty of Music, and the New York State Chapter of the Alumni, has been used to purchase additional items, including several from the Toulouse-Philidor Collection, formerly located at St. Michael's College Library, Tenbury, England. Most recent acquisitions include several as-yet-unpublished Italian operas in manuscript. Preliminary investigations have been made by the Faculty of Music concerning the possibility of publishing these in a facsimile series under the auspices of Garland Press.
Portions of the collection have been examined and catalogued by graduate students in the Music Faculty under the direction of Dr. Don Neville. This catalogue, titled: Opera I. Being the catalogue of the collection: Opera 1600-1750 in contemporary editions and manuscripts now in the holdings of the Music Library of the University of Western Ontario, has been published by the Faculty of Music as the fourth volume of Studies in Music from the University of Western Ontario. Two supplements have subsequently been prepared as theses.
The Opera Collection has generated a good deal of research activity among Music Faculty and students. Lists of articles, papers and theses, current to 1990, prepared as parts of several SSHRCC grant submissions made on behalf of the collection over past years are available in the Music Library. Many eminent scholars from outside the confines of the Music Faculty have, from time to time, made use of the Collection. These include Dr. Daniel Heartz (University of California, Berkeley), Dr. Marita McClymonds (University of Virginia), Mr. Nino Pirrotta (University of Rome, Italy), Dr. Michael Robinson (University of Wales, Cardiff, U.K.), Dr. Elizabeth Bartlett (Durham University, North Carolina), Dr. Philip Gossett (University of Chicago), Dr. Stanley Sadie, Donald Burrows (Open University, UK), and Dr. Michael Burden (Oxford, UK).
Three additional collections, chiefly on microfilm, are complementary and supporting research resources to The Opera Collection. These are the:
Albert Schatz Collection Of Opera Librettos (held at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC) of opera libretti
Venetian Opera Libretti 1637-1769 (held at the University of California at Los Angeles)
Metastasio Collection (held at the Music Library, UWO)
The latter collection consists of some three hundred and twenty titles (manuscript and printed full score editions of opera, as well as libretti, based on the texts of Pietro Metastasio), which have been microfilmed or photocopied from original sources located in several European libraries. Proposed acquisitions from grant funding include printed manuscripts to enhance the collection.
Should you wish to consult materials from The Opera Collection, please complete and submit a Project Request form (links below):
PROJECT REQUEST FORM - RTF - The Opera Collection
PROJECT REQUEST FORM - PDF - The Opera Collection