li·​bret·​to | \ lə-ˈbre-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce libretto (audio) \
plural librettos or libretti\ lə-​ˈbre-​(ˌ)tē How to pronounce libretti (audio) \

Definition of libretto

1 : the text of a work (such as an opera) for the musical theater
2 : the book containing a libretto

Examples of libretto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Donizetti, using an Italian translation of a libretto by Rousseau, presents Pygmalion in a near-suicidal agony of desire. James R. Oestreich, New York Times, "Review: Ahead of ‘My Fair Lady,’ Two Operatic Pygmalions," 26 Mar. 2018 The nonlinear, associative libretto by Yona Kim — who also directed the gripping staging, set in what seems to be a decaying 19th-century salon — swerves from Berlin to Moscow and from Paris to Riga. New York Times, "Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin Don’t Talk. They Sing.," 24 June 2018 The libretto, adapted by the composer and Jonathan Moore from Steven Berkoff’s play, is a 1980s rendering of Sophocles in which a Cockney Oedipus (Eddy) tries to escape his fate, but nonetheless kills his father and marries his mother. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘The Head & the Load’ and ‘Greek’ Reviews," 10 Dec. 2018 The epic that resulted from his efforts over decades — first writing all four librettos in reverse order, then composing the music from beginning to end — is sufficiently rich and nuanced to be staged in countless ways. Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bingeing on ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘The Wire’? Wagner’s ‘Ring’ paved the way," 30 May 2018 Masterminded and directed by the architect Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (one of the designers of the High Line), the piece has music by David Lang and a libretto by Anne Carson, drawn from stories collected by Claudia Rankine. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘The Mile-Long Opera: A Biography of 7 O’Clock’ Review: A Theme-Park Performance," 8 Oct. 2018 So ‘Darkest Hour’ tries to deal with that in its libretto and — in a very real way — wrestles with that. George Varga,, "Spring arts 2018: Meet musician Anthony Davis," 25 Mar. 2018 Her adroit performance is as well suited to the libretto’s subtleties as her voice is to the music’s thrashing intensity. Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, "Review: A B-Movie Starlet Becomes an Opera Diva in ‘Acquanetta’," 10 Jan. 2018 An interpreter translates, telling in English the Armenian stories like a libretto for an opera, so the audience will understand. Allison Keyes, Smithsonian, "Illuminating the Shadowy Art of Armenian Puppet Theater," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'libretto.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of libretto

1742, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for libretto

Italian, diminutive of libro book, from Latin libr-, liber

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Statistics for libretto

Last Updated

5 May 2019

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Time Traveler for libretto

The first known use of libretto was in 1742

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English Language Learners Definition of libretto

formal : the words of an opera or musical

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with libretto

Spanish Central: Translation of libretto

Nglish: Translation of libretto for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about libretto

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to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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