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Sources for background information


There are several other general opera reference books around ML102 O6.


Bibliographies are lists, usually annotated, of materials written about a particular composer, period, or genre. Below are a few examples; these and others will lead to a wealth of potential resources on any operatic topic.

Bibliographies in print may be found in the 5th-floor stacks.

Genre bibliographies (ML128)

Composer bibliographies ML134

The following titles are only a small sample of the composer bibliographies available. Search for others in the Library catalogue by entering the composer's name and "bibliography" and selecting "Keyword in subject."

Call numbers for browsing

Complete works by composer
Opera - Full scores
Operas - Piano/vocal scores
Vocalists – collective biography
Composers – individual biography
Vocalists – individual biography
Comic opera
Other types of opera with spoken dialogue
(ballad opera, Singspiel, zarzuela)


Most operas recordings are relatively simple to locate since they have unique titles (e.g. Tosca as opposed to Concerto no. 4 in G major). From the Library catalogue's Advanced Search screen, a simple search by title and author keywords in combination with the limit "Recorded Music" will produce relevant hits.

Visit Opera in Video, Naxos Video Library, Medici.tv, and MetOpera on Demand (VPN connection required off-campus) to watch streaming opera performances online.

See How to find recordings for more search strategies.

Opera periodicals



To find other opera periodicals available at McGill, type “opera periodicals” in the Keyword Search box in the Library catalogue and select “Keyword in Subject.”

Music Literature Indexes

Periodical literature about opera may appear in several publications, not just journals dedicated to opera. To locate articles, conference papers, chapters in books, theses, and reviews in these other sources, search the following music literature indexes, all linked from the Music Library Resources page:

Opera is an interdisciplinary art and scholars from several areas (political science, history, literature, medicine, sociology, for example) write frequently on opera. Therefore, relevant articles may be found by searching periodical indexes in non-music disciplines as well. Visit McGill's subject guides to other disciplines to access the relevant core databases for these areas.

Articles and books are also accessible via Google Scholar and Google Books:


To discover other dissertation databases, visit the Music Library's Music literature databases and indexes page.

Other databases

  • Opening Night! Opera & Oratorio Premieres
    A cross-index of data for over 38,000 opera and oratorio premieres curated by Stanford University. It allows complex searches across multiple categories or simple browsing within any single category, such as genre, composer, librettist, premiere date, country, oratorio subject, or theatre.



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