What’s this opera about...?! Printed libretti from the Lobkowicz Library

March 1 – April 25, 2023

We usually consider a libretto to be a text set to music by a composer in the form of an opera, operetta, musical, etc. In the past, however, this term was used to refer to printed booklets which provided the audience with additional information about a particular performance, in addition to the text of the drama itself and possibly its translation. Some libretti, especially for operas performed on important occasions at the courts of various monarchs, also contain engravings showing the design of the individual sets. At the imperial court, the congratulatory operas were made into a regular tradition by Empress Eleonora of the House of Gonzaga-Nevers (1630–1686). In the case of the Habsburgs, no name day, birthday, engagement, or wedding was complete without a spectacular allegorical opera performance. The Lobkowicz Library possesses a unique collection of these documents, collected by several generations of the Lobkowicz family during their time at the Habsburg court. 

Curator: Dr. Petr Slouka