Talk:List of fictional literature featuring opera

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This will be a Wikipedia version of a document created by subscribers of the e-mail list OPERA-L of fictional works that have something to do with opera. kosboot 22:56, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

In response to the deletion suggestion: What may appear as an indiscriminate list is the product of at least 25 people working over a period of about 5 years to compile a list where opera is an plot element. The mere fact that this topic has arisen multiple times on numerous e-mail lists (MLA-L, OPERA-L, CLASSICAL-L, not to mention on Usenet newsgroups) over the past 15 years demonstrates a need to codify this information which is not otherwise available.

There are over 100 such works, so it's going to take quite a bit of time listing them all. I ask that the Wikipedia Police have some patience as titles, authors, descriptions, and sources/references are added. kosboot 06:40, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Unfortunately it is alphabetical by author but listed by title. Can we reverse the title/author? That way books by the same author can be listed on one line. -- Kleinzach 04:29, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
The raw list I'm working from is alphabetical by author. Perhaps you can point to a page that has a nice formatted version of such a list? I've also not included any of the thumbnail summaries which would add value to the list. Any formatting suggestions? kosboot 05:03, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
I'd suggest doing it in a sandbox, also joining the discussion at Opera in Fiction. There are different options we might look at to make the list more interesting and protect it from the deletionists. Having it in different sections - chronological or thematic - might work but it's worth talking to people about it. I don't know of any list like this one, so I don't think we'll find a model that is simple to adapt. -- Kleinzach 08:03, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
What about this: since the raw data I'm working with is alphabetical by author, why not let me continue - and when the entire list is complete, I'll be able to sort it (in a word processor) to be alphabetical by title. Sound good? kosboot 12:34, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Not really. Alphabetical by title would be neater, but not more informative, or more readable, but I don't want to push my own ideas, hence my suggestion to talk about it to the other people. Also if this is 'raw data' it should be in a sandbox. Here it's published and anybody can put it up for deletion or whatever. -- Kleinzach 13:42, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Weaknesses of this list[edit]

(This is a revised version of comments that I've made at User talk:Kosboot about this article.)

This list doesn't appear to justify its own existence as an encyclopedic topic (in other words, it's WP:LISTCRUFT). The list apparently has no standards for how meaningful the opera reference has to be for a book to be included, nor any kind of justification for why it's significant that these books mention opera. (There are also no citations, for what that's worth.) It doesn't address the question of why someone who's not personally an opera fan should care that any of the books listed happen to mention opera, nor (as far as I know) is there any other article about opera in fiction that does address that point. I respect the work that's gone into compiling this list on the e-mail listserv, and I totally understand why such a list would be interesting to a specific community, but it doesn't seem appropriate for Wikipedia and I'm inclined to bring it up at Articles for Deletion for discussion. Propaniac (talk) 14:07, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can't help feeling that someone must have written on this subject. If someone can find such a source, then there is a potential to classify list items. I'm thinking of such themes as to whether the story is a satire on opera (e.g. the Pratchett), takes its inspiration from an opera (The Blood of the Walsungs), has an essential plit twist arising from an opera fact (the Yarbro) etc. Without such a published source, this would be [[WP:OR], with it we might have an interesting list.--Peter cohen (talk) 16:53, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

(Below is a revised version of comments that I've made at the Opera Project talk page)

Some suggestions. I would tend to agree with Propaniac. Without minimal bibliographic information, the entires are not verifiable. Most of the entries are bare mentions of the work with no way of telling just what role opera plays in it. Is it a passing mention or allusion (listcruft) or a key aspect of the plot, setting, or characters? For now, I would suggest drastically pruning the list to those you know be of the latter type. Then for each of those add a sentence or two describing the role opera plays in the work. You also need to include full bibliographical information about the work, including date of first publication and what language it was originally written in. Bibliographic information for modern editions and/or translations of older works should also be included. That would take care of the referencing problems. Subcategorizing by themes is one way of organizing the list, although probably takes a lot of work. I would list the works individually with title first, Then I'd break the list down into time periods, e.g. 1800-1850, 1851-1900, etc. and list the books under their time periods chronologically, e.g.

  • Ritter Gluck by E.T.A. Hoffmann, 1809. A short story originally published in German by Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. The story is about a man who meets, or believes he has met, the composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-87) more than twenty years after the latter's death. Gluck refers to Mozart as "a young friend of mine" and proceeds to give an elaborate critique of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. (Source: Tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann, translated and edited by Leonard J. Kent and Elizabeth C. Knight, University of Chicago Press, 1972. ISBN 0226347893.)
  • Gambara by Honoré de Balzac, 1837. A novella originally published in French in Revue et gazette musicale de Paris. The plot centers on an eccentric musician (Gambara) and his attempt to compose an opera on the life of Mahomet, as well as a disquisition on Meyerbeer's opera Robert le diable. (Source: Gambara by Honoré de Balzac, translated by Clara Bell and James Waring, Project Gutenberg.)

Re an introduction, there are articles and books that address the relationship between literature and opera, some in a more general way (Literature & Opera by David Rosen; En Travesti: Women, Gender Subversion, Opera by Corinne E. Blackmer and Patricia Juliana Smith; Essays on Literature and Music (1967-2004) by Stephen Paul Sher). Others in relation to specific authors, e.g. Willa Cather, E.T.A, Hoffman, Balzac, etc. Voceditenore (talk) 18:05, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

How to improve the list[edit]

Ok, so I surmise there are varied ways some people would like the list organized:

  • chronological, perhaps with a 50-year breakdown (and smaller increments for recent times; and
  • By theme (er...what theme?)
  • By depth of operatic involvement, i.e. whether the plot is based on an opera, or whether opera plays a small but significant part, or other involvement.

I think filling out bibliographic information for each book can be easy enough - finding the right format is the dfificult part. Should be as a table (I like tables) or should it just be an entry as an unnumbered list? Responses welcome! -- kosboot (talk) 19:07, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, frankly, the organization is the least of the problems. If you want to save this from articles for deletion, the important thing to tackle now is the addition of proper bibliographic information and an explication for each item as to the relationship of the work to opera. It also needs a properly drafted lead. I don't think it should be in numbered table form. These are not used for lists like this, especially ones with commentary, and are difficult to edit. My own view is that this should be worked on as a draft on a user sub-page. Piles of raw unreferenced data like this should not be in the article space. Voceditenore (talk) 22:28, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. This needs referencing and - perhaps even more importantly - thorough annotating. How X piece of fictional literature relates to opera, how significant is opera to the fiction, and even "what does the fiction reveal about opera"? Without annotation this list is without meaning. With annotation, I'm sure it'll be great. Moreschi (talk) (debate) 21:57, 3 June 2008 (UTC)


Also, "mentioning opera" is not great: that leaves open the possibility for a really vast list. "Significantly featuring" would be better. Moreschi (talk) (debate) 21:57, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Ok, moved to "featuring". Moreschi (talk) (debate) 14:46, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps simply 'featuring'? I think that gets the idea across. I agree 'mentioning' is too weak. --Kleinzach 23:00, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
"Featuring" is certainly a stronger word and is less encouraging of listcrift than "mentioning" would be.--Peter cohen (talk) 07:43, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
The problem with all of these is that the involvement of opera with any of these works varies: some are adaptations of operas, some have just a fleeting mention of opera. The only word I could think of that would encompass all these variations was "mentioning." If anyone has a better idea that could encompass the entire list, let me know! -- kosboot (talk) 13:40, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
What was the reason for including works with "just a fleeting mention of opera" ? This sounds a bit like the trivia that is sometimes attached to opera title articles. Should they be removed? --Kleinzach 01:46, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
I think one of the ideas behind the list was that it could provide reading material for people who are obsessed with opera. -- kosboot (talk) 03:09, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
I think that this is what some of the comments about WP:Listcruft were about. That link and WP:Wikipedia is not supply information on what should not be a wikipedia list. "List of fiction relating to opera" might cover an acceptable list. This would allow for re-tellings of operas, satires, SF stories in which people find completions of Turandot etc.--Peter cohen (talk) 10:03, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Comment (outdent) I agree with Peter and Kleinzach. Trivial or "fleeting" mentions shouldn't be in the list, e.g. something like a character simply saying at one point that she had been to see The Magic Flute or was meeting her mother after Rigoletto. Or someone mentioning in passing that they hated opera. That might be useful on another web site, but it's frowned on Wikipedia. It's the same thing as mentioning every single film or TV advert that uses snatches of Cavalleria rusticana. They get removed and rightly so. For the purposes of this article/list, it should be pruned to only those works where opera is a significant component. There's still plenty of scope for a good sized list without the trivial mentions, and it has the potential to be a really good article. I personally prefer "featuring" in the title rather than "relating", which is somewhat ambiguous, and more prone to encouraging the addition of listcruft by 'drive-by' editors. Best, Voceditenore (talk) 10:51, 5 June 2008 (UTC)