What were the aristocracy enjoying at the Paris Opéra while the peasants starved in the days before the French Revolution?

A new Stanford Music Library database makes finding the answer a piece of cake.

Stanford University Libraries is pleased to introduce Opening Night! Opera & Oratorio Premieres, a cross-index of data for over 38,000 opera and oratorio premieres. 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 theater. The database is linked to SearchWorks, Stanford University Libraries catalog, allowing users to easily find related scores, recordings and writings.

It is possible to use the database for research to gather many types of information quickly and easily. You can list all of the operas premiered in a particular year or range of years; determine all of the operas based on the works of important authors such as Shakespeare, Goethe, Molière, Cervantes or Victor Hugo; identify which operas premiered at the Paris Opéra during the French Revolution; or see what Handel oratorios premiered outside of England. The flexible and powerful interface allows innumerable search combinations for study and research.

The original database, “From Don to Giovanni: Opera and Oratorio Citation Database,” compiled by Richard Parrillo, spanned the years 1589-1995. The submission of new operas and oratorios via the “Submit a Premiere” link allows the database to be updated and therefore be more comprehensive.

Many thanks are due to Richard Parrillo, donor and creator of “From Don to Giovanni Opera and Oratorio Citation Database,” Jerry McBride, head librarian of the music library, Jacqueline Hettel, digital humanities developer, Ray Heigemeir, public services librarian of the music library, Nancy Lorimer, head of music technical services, Keith Bisaillon, library specialist, and numerous others in Digital Library Systems and Services, and the Stanford University Libraries.