Opera's Architects: Librettists' (over)due credit
At the heart of creating an opera libretto lies an apparent absurdity: Words can get in the way. “As precious as your words are to you, they don’t all need to be in your libretto,” says librettist and performer Diana Solomon-Glover. But this only seems illogical because of a misunderstanding of what librettists actually do. Unlike in a straight play or film script, where words reign supreme, the role of the operatic libretto is two-part in nature — it must serve the story and the music. The words must “invite music into the picture,” says composer Kevin Puts, who collaborated with librettist Mark Campbell on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night. “If the text might as well be a play, I see no reason to make music of it,” Puts adds.