Guide to Literature

Opera: A Research and Information Guide
ML128.O4 M28 2001 (R)

This source is an excellent survey of opera-related literature. It claims to be the "only guide to research writings on all aspects of opera." It supports that idea with a collection of over 3000 titles from a variety of print sources.

Click a category heading below to reveal its contents.


Opera: A Research and Information Guide
ML128.O4 M28 2001 (R)

Aside from serving as a great guide to the literature, this source also contains an excellent bibliography.

Modern Drama and Opera: Reading Lists on the Works of Various Authors
Z5781 .M65 (R)

This source is in the William T. Young Library. As the title suggests, it has a more contemporary focus than the previous suggestion. The second volume is completely available from Google Books.

One can find similiar works with a subject search for "Opera-Bibliography"

General Encyclopedias

New Encyclopedia Britannica (2003 ed.)
AE5 .E363 2003 (R)

The Little Library keeps a 2003 edition of the New Encyclopedia Britannica in the reference section.

We also have subscriptions to two online encyclopediae:

Encyclopedia Americana*

Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia*

Wikipedia is a good place to get started, too.

Subject Encyclopedias

Oxford Music Online*

This database combines the music-oriented encyclopedic publications of Oxford University Press into one site.

Opera: An Encyclopedia of World Premieres, Singers, Composers, Arias, and Conductors
ML102.O6 M45 2007

As the title suggests, it covers more than just composers and compositions. It spotlights noteworthy people involved in opera proudction and contains many terms and concepts relevant to the execution of a performance.

Penguin Concise Guide to Opera
ML102.O6 V55 2005 (R)

This is a lightweight source that focuses more on composer biographies and summaries of important operas.

Simon and Schuster Book of the Opera
ML102.O6 O63 1979 (R)

Along with good subject coverage, this selection is noticibily more illustrated than its neighbors in the reference section.

Encyclopedia of American Opera
ML102.O6 W53 2006

This source is recommended for researchers who are intersted in American contributions to opera. Based on this narrower focus, it includes people and topics not found in the broader works.

One can find similiar works with a subject search for "Opera-Encyclopedias"


Oxford Music Online*

This database contains the Oxford Dictionary of Music and the New Grove Dictionary of Opera.

Dictionary of the Opera
ML102.O6 O8 2001 (R)

Baker’s Dictionary of Opera
ML102.O6 B26 2000 (R)


These sources describe the people and places behind contemporary opera production. Entries include a brief history of a company and its accomplishments. They also examine practical information like location and contact information.

Opera Companies and Houses of the United States
ML13.Z54 1995 (R)

Opera Companies and Houses of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
ML12 .Z54 1999 (R)

The National Opera Center of America provides a directory of the productions of its members that one can search by performer, composer, and title.

Almanacs, Yearbooks, Handbooks, Manuals

These sources could come in handy during a performance. Each summarizes noteworthy operas, describes major characters, and provides context for the story.

New Grove Book of Operas
ML102.O6 N5 1997 (R)

The Grove titles from Oxford Univeristy Press are always reliable sources. This one covers more than 250 operas.

These two books provide a scene-by-scene breakdown of each included work. These are good choices for researchers who can read music; both include small examples of important parts of the score.

Opera: A Listener’s Guide
ML1700.S13 1997 (R)

Opera Companion
MT95.M252 1961

The Pocket Guide is the lightest of these four. Along with summaries and characters, it also describes "what to listen for" and recommends recordings.

Pocket Guide to Opera
ML102.O6 C37 2002 (R)

Biographical Sources

Oxford Music Online*

Oxford Music Online contains our largest collection of performers' biographies. Each entry typically contains a bibliography for further reading on a specific person.

Rough Guide to Opera
ML1700.R77 2002

A section of the Rough Guide is dedicated to a review of a few hundred contemporary performers, conductors, and composers.

If your subject is fictional, head for these sources. Both collect biographies of opera characters.

Who’s Who in Opera
ML102.O6 B68 1998 (R)

Who Married Figaro?
ML102.O6 B68 2008 (R)

Geographical Sources

Opera is a performance art expressed around the world. Learning more about performances in your area is a simple as submitting a search like "Ohio opera" to Google Maps.

Other Ready Reference

If you only have a small piece of information, like part of a song title, these sources can lead you to the full work.

Cross Index Title Guide to Opera and Operetta
ML128.O4 P3 1989 (R)

Opera Plot Index
ML128.O4 S8 1990 (R)

Search tip:

Call numbers marked with an (R) are in the Little Library reference section.

Links marked with an * require a link blue username and password for off-campus access.

Soprano Amalie Materna as Brünnhilde in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, 1876 (public domain)

Soprano Amalie Materna as Brünnhilde
in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, 1876