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the libretto is the text material of a more extensive vowel composition in dialogue form, for example an opera, a Oratoriums, a Operette, a musical, a Kantate; inbroader sense also scenarios for ballet and Pantomimen occasionally than Libretti are designated. The term libretto (Pl. Libretti) originates from the Italian (reduction form from Libro = book) and means originally simply „booklets “. It dips at the beginning 18. Century up, becomes however onlyin the course 19. Century really usually.

The literature-scientific research discipline, which is occupied with the libretto as literary kind, is called Librettologie.


the history of the libretto begins with the history of the opera. Interestingly enough the opera develops for one from the attemptRevival of the antique tragedy, thus actually is literary origin. Accordingly a key role came to the opera libretto in the early period of the kind.

The relationship of music and text and/or. from composer and dear savingist in the course of the time changed again and again. In France and Italy18 was to in. Century inside the dear savingists well-known artists, who saw themselves natural as poets and were seen in such a way also of the public. Most important dear savingist of this time is Pietro Metastasio, whose Libretti was not toned only by numerous composers - partly repeated -,separate sometimes even as speech pieces on the Theaterbühne came. Later the dear savingists in the perception of the public and the research withdraws usually behind the composer. In particular since the time of the romance it gave also composers, who wrote their Libretti, like z. B. Smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Wagner or Hans Pfitzner. Double gifts such as Wagner, who realized a conclusive linguistic and dramaturgisches model of the libretto, are thereby however the exception. In 20. Century are again frequent authors, who connect literary requirement also dear-savistic activity. Famous for this Hugo of Hofmannsthal andits co-operation with smelling pool of broadcasting corporations bunch. A longer persisting co-operation of dear savingist and composer gave it to z. B. between Lorenzo there Ponte and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Eugène Scribe and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boito. For the time after secondWorld war is above all Inge-borrows brook man to call (original libretto the young lord, 1965, for Hans's Werner Henze). The literature opera, the adaptation of dramas for the opera stage, to the prevailing model becomes simultaneous.

That the dear savingists in former times (z. B. at present the Mozarts') partial were more outstanding than thoseComposers, is readable also at the form and size of the two names on the announcements of theatre. Today as authors of also classical operas in principle the composers are called (z. B. “The magic flute by Mozart”). With Operetten and musical from the English-language area composer however often becomes in particularand dear savingist in a course mentioned (z. B. “Oklahoma! of Rodgers and hammer stone ").

structure and Poetik

the controversy, whether in the opera the text or the music is the more important component, is as old as the opera. Mozart's famous utterance „beyone opera must be virtually the poetry of the Musick obedient daughter “to stand likewise many contrary against expressions. Safe it is however that the dichterische quality of the libretto comes only in connection with the Vertonung to carrying. It must therefore on the one hand the music suggestion, on the other hand also areaoffer - neither may the word too much take itself back, still into the foreground urge.

Since sung text is more with difficulty understandable on the one hand than more spoken, on the other hand necessarily, the libretto a characteristic change from Raffungen and repetitions exhibits more time. From literary view worksit often pleonastic pleonastisch and meager plakativ at the same time. Comparisons between Opernlibretti and purely literary working on of the underlying materials show that the libretto reduces complexity in favor of the musical feasibility. Multilayered characters become types, complicated decision-making processes processes tendencies, „Tiraden “too „key words “(Ferruccio Busoni). By it the causedVerkürzung of the action benefits the music, which receives thereby the necessary time for development. At the same time the sweep magnification inconceivable in the drama offers by the music to plumb up to the time stop in airs or ensemble tablets, the possibility, tendencies and feeling conditions in detail.

The action inLibretto does not run accordingly linear, but jumps „“from an affect situation to the next. Backwards and forward purchases, correlations not visible action, how they are usual in the drama, are completely void in the opera.

This ideal-typical structure applies to a large extent to the opera libretto 17. to 19. Century. Of Smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Wagner, who covers the text with the help of its guidance motive technology with a close net of non-linguistic semantic connections, is waived it to far parts. Also for the literature opera 20. Century applies it only conditionally.


Albert Gier: The libretto: Theoryand history of a musikoliterarischen kind. Darmstadt 1998.

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