Cincinnati Opera Libretti

Aug 11, 2011 by

Before I saw The Magic Flute at the Cincinnati Opera, I finally decided to check out the local rare, old, and used bookstore—Duttenhofer’s Books.

I don’t know why I haven’t checked it out before, but when I did, I was surprised to see an entire box of vintage libretti in the music section.

Who knew they would have something like this?! They had (yes, past tense) a collection that included libretti from The Metropolitan Opera, the Metropolitan Opera House, Chicago Grand Opera, and the Cincinnati Opera. Two days later I returned with my imaginary cash card and purchased most of them. If you’re interested in buying the rest, you should probably do so before I get paid again.

These two libretti are from the Cincinnati Zoo Opera Company, when the opera was at the Zoo Opera Pavilion.


Isn’t this fun? Of course, I’ve never heard of the opera Andrea Chénier, nor have I heard of the composer Umberto Giordano and the librettist Luigi Illica (yes, I should know the latter). The next libretto cover should be a little more familiar.


Nice, huh? Here’s the inside.


And here’s something I discovered with some of these older libretti. They include the melody line from the arias in the back of the libretto.


This is something supertitles can’t give you. It’s too bad these melody lines aren’t printed in current opera programs.

Images by JennJolley from her Flickr Stream


  1. My grandfather sang in the chorus at the Cincinnati Zoo opera– I believe my grandmother did as well! Very cool to see this.

  2. @Julie: That is way cool that your grandparents sang in the opera chorus. In researching these programs I discovered that the Main Library is home to the Cincinnati Opera Archives ( I might have to check this out later!

  3. Chris

    Duttenhofers is full of all kinds of great treasures, I really enjoy exploring there. Ditto for the Ohio Bookstore down on Main, lots of stuff related to history. Any thoughts on a piece expanding on the Cincinnati Opera’s history? Just from reading this, I realized I know little about it.

  4. I might, now that I know about the Main Library Cincinnati Opera Archives. We’ll see about this. :)

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