Definition of libretto in US English:



  • The text of an opera or other long vocal work.

    • ‘It is also a very good recording including a sumptuous libretto and extensive historical notes.’
    • ‘Auden, in his librettos for Britten, Stravinsky, and Henze, established himself as an important writer in the form.’
    • ‘Although he is best known for his novels, he also wrote plays, poetry, essays, filmscripts, opera librettos, and many other texts which confound traditional generic categories.’
    • ‘If you are a real lover of art, you will appreciate its exquisite melodies, fine librettos, marvellous arias, charming performances, as well as the beautiful costumes and makeup.’
    • ‘Yet, he can still knock out a great tune when the libretto demands it.’
    • ‘His right to do this in an opera libretto will be disputed by no one.’
    • ‘Whether in opera libretti from Mozart to Verdi or in the wind and percussion sections of the modern orchestra, Western music has gathered elements of the Islamic world as if to strip them of their differences.’
    • ‘An opera libretto is something we would like to do, but it is a matter of finding the time.’
    • ‘On the concerto disc is also a choral work with a libretto devised to show the cruelty of man to beast and bird.’
    • ‘Thus, when I do get to write my own texts and libretti, it allows me to fulfill the dreams of my ‘inner writer’.’
    • ‘The libretto imports a number of Elizabethan lyrics which add to the overall lyrical quality of the work.’
    • ‘Are there scholars earnestly studying opera libretti, minus their music?’
    • ‘The Yeomen of the Guard, the most operatic of Sullivan's scores with Gilbert, and the most serious of Gilbert's librettos, has been lucky on records.’
    • ‘He wrote librettos, screenplays, book reviews, everything possible in the English language, and on top of all that he played the French horn.’
    • ‘It's amazing that we haven't had more opera, or more writers writing librettos - libretti, to be more precise - and more composers working in this area.’
    • ‘Mozart's operas to librettos by Da Ponte examine attempts to constrain the irrationality of desire within the artificial boundaries of class and society.’
    • ‘In making his libretto from the biblical text, he has boldly put that figure at the centre of his scheme.’
    • ‘The libretto contains an essay, a synopsis, and texts in English and transliterated Russian.’
    • ‘The notes are skimpy and there are no librettos; you are referred to a web site where they may be secured, but they weren't there when I tried to retrieve them.’
    • ‘First, although it provides an Italian libretto, there are no translations of the sung text.’
    text, book, screenplay, lyrics, score, lines, parts, dialogue, words, manuscript
    View synonyms


Mid 18th century: from Italian, diminutive of libro ‘book’, from Latin liber.