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When Words Sing - Seven Canadian Libretti

When Words Sing

Seven Canadian Libretti

Edited by Julie Salverson
Subjects: Award Winners, Musicals, Anthologies, Theatre Studies
Imprint: Playwrights Canada Press
Paperback : 9780369101242, 440 pages, May 2021


  • Joint winner, Patrick O'Neill Award 2023


Meet the creators behind the words of Canadian opera in this exciting new collection of contemporary libretti. Featuring Ours by Robert Chafe, Rocking Horse Winner by Anna Chatterton, Beatrice Chancy by George Elliott Clarke, Missing by Marie Clements, Nigredo Hotel by Ann-Marie MacDonald, Shelter by Julie Salverson, and Dog Days by Royce Vavrek, When Words Sing turns the spotlight on everything that goes into writing libretti, answering frequently asked questions along the way.

Through supplementary interviews, essays, and illustrations, the book will examine the role of the librettist; how a libretto can inspire a composer, director, and designer; and how the relationship between words, music, sound, and design coalesces into an ageless theatrical form.


When Words Sing beautifully addresses the challenge of imagining orality and music through words, demonstrating how sound and soundscapes can be represented textually. The book is organized in a way that will make it a pleasure to teach and provides an accessible entry point for those new to its field.

- Patrick O’Neill Award, Canadian Association for Theatre Research