IJLLL 2020 Vol.6(2): 76-80 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2020.6.2.254

Italian Opera Librettos with Similar Plot: Plagiarism or Established Practice?

Luca Pavan
Abstract—The article analyzes several Italian opera librettos spanning various eras of opera’s history. The librettos are divided in subgroups having in common the similar plot. The language of librettos is analyzed searching for common verses or parts of verses. The analysis is carried out using a software tool which compares two texts. It is showed that the librettos with the similar plot often have some similar verses or parts of verses.
According to the results of the analysis it is possible to assume that the librettists, especially in the XVII and XVIII centuries, used previous librettos with the similar plot not only as a source of ideas for their work, but also as a model of poetical style. The author assumes that this tendency also had economic reasons, being the opera a huge business in all Italian states and abroad.
The use of older librettos with similar plot as a model to write the new librettos started to disappear in the second half of the XIX century. One of the reasons for this can be the changes of librettos’ language. With the new Italian language, which was partly different from the previous Florentine vernacular language, the oldest librettos could hardly be taken in consideration as a model of poetry.
Towards the end of XIX century the new copyright laws in Europe contributed to put end to the practice described in the article.
Finally, the adoption of repertoires by the theatres caused the decrease of new operas’ request, contributing to stop such a practice.

Index Terms—Italian opera librettos, opera plot, plagiarism.

Luca Pavan is with the Institute of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Philology, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania. He is also with the Language Studies Centre, Department of Foreign languages, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Vilnius, Lithuania (e-mail: pavan@panservice.it).

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Cite: Luca Pavan, "Italian Opera Librettos with Similar Plot: Plagiarism or Established Practice?," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 76-80, 2020.

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