The Collection

The Dresden Opera Archive comprises approx. 1,300 music manuscripts, of which some 1,200 are held in SLUB. The remaining manuscripts are part of the music collection of the Semper Opera House and kept in their library. Altogether, the musical material consists of scores and sets of movement parts as well as choral, prompting and piano extracts. Added to this are approx. 270 SLUB corresponding libretto prints. The total digitalisation volume encompasses some 860,000 scans. An overview of the opera archive material kept in SLUB is provided by this PDF file. It is sorted by shelf number.

In spite of painful losses due to material wear and the results of war, the opera archive, filling 150 metres of shelf space, is "still imposing" (quote by Ortrun Landmann) and demonstrates the scope of the spectrum of the Dresden repertoire for the entire period under review. Material on the opéra comique provides the beginning. Music of German companies of actors are surprisingly common, although these are indeed not musical scores that usually found any resonance at court. As expected, the focus is on the Italian-language repertoire of the years between 1765 and 1832. Since 1817, the stage works of German, Italian and French repertoires performed in the German language have formed another segment of the collection. The preserved farces are also worthy of particular mention: one-act stage plays managing without much singing, such as those popular in the mid-19th century. The composition at least of the German repertoire, from 1817 onwards, does not differ in fundamental respects from that of other German court theatres. It is presumably primarily the quality of the performances that was decisive for the status of the Dresden Opera stage.