You're never going to haul this book to the opera house, it is true, but, on the other hand, you'll probably never again have to fret over where to find a libretto for most standard repertory operas. This massive, 1,474-page (plus endpapers) volume, which could readily double as a doorstop or a booster seat at the theater, contains all the words, in their original languages (for the most part) and in English, of 101 out-of-copyright operas. The selections run the gamut from Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio
through Carl Maria von Weber's Euryanthe
, with scores of stories in between. In addition to the word-for-word libretti, a brief précis of each plot is also provided.
There are some puzzling omissions--Mozart's Così fan tutte and Abduction from the Seraglio--and puzzling inclusions as well: Paderewski's Manru and Horatio Parker's Mona are not considered standard operas by any authority that readily springs to mind. Borodin's Prince Igor is, incomprehensibly, given in Italian and English (the Russian people improbably sing, "Ad Igor, signor nostro, vittoria"), as are Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and Tchaikovsky's Evgeny Onegin. There are also some annoying little errors that could have been avoided with more careful proofreading ("Madam Butterfly"?), and the paper used is disappointingly cheap. Still, with these caveats in mind, The Book of 101 Opera Librettos is a very useful book for the money, a one-stop shop for many of the operas you're likely to encounter. Just be sure to read the libretto before you leave for the opera house.
Text: English, French, German, Italian