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French Opera and Ballet Libretti

The Stanford Libraries recently acquired a collection of 214 libretti of French opera and ballets in first and early editions, from the 17th-19th centuries. The major concentration is in 18th-century material, with significant representation of the works of major composers of the period, Dalayrac, Duni, Grétry, Lully, Monsigny, Philidor, Alexandre Piccinni and Nicolas Piccinni. The inclusion of first and early editions provides the opportunity for comparison of first performances and revivals. Libretti are important records of performance history, often including details such as names of the cast, choreographers, set designers, dancers, and other musicians involved in the production.

This collection expands and complements the significant holdings of similar materials already in the Music Library and Department of Special Collections, covering many of the same composers but including different works, or different editions of the same work. Stanford is also the home of the Lully Archive, a repository mostly in microform of first and early editions of the operas and their libretti, and manuscript and prints acquired to supplement the Archive.