How to approach cleaning up Die Zauberflöte?

Our work entries for Die Zauberflöte are… um…

Act 1 has, by the score, 8 numbered parts (though the finale has 6 sub-parts, so maybe a total of 13) and, by the libretto, 3 scenes. We have… 32 works, with scene numbers up to 18.

We have 41 works for Act 2.

I’m not even sure where to start with this. CSG/Works/Opera doesn’t help much—I’m not even sure what the final goal should be. E.g., it doesn’t tell me what to do with the spoken dialog. (And is that definition of “scene” correct? I think not…)

IANACE (I am not a Classical Editor), but the CSG for works says that they should be based solely on how the composer split up the work (so not based on recordings etc).
Now, I might not agree with this entirely (if such parts are often separated in recordings, I would always prefer to link to the parts of the work that apply rather than having a recording-work link with “partial”), but that does look like it provides a starting point for cleanup.
So see which, if any, of the existing works matches up best with the split from the score, and merge the others into them. Chances are there will be some lively discussions in the edit notes :slight_smile:

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It does. In which case IMSLP has copies of the score, including a holograph manuscript; Act 1 has 8 parts. But that leaves a problem: the opera has spoken parts as well, in between the sung parts and… those are just not in the score.

I looked at Mozart operas and quickly gave up, but I don’t know anything about the work other than what I could find online. In general, we should have one work per number - but I don’t really know what to do with the spoken sections. We could have them as “partial recording of Act X” but that doesn’t seem too clean either…

When you give up—we’re in trouble :worried: I’m also not really familiar with the work, attempting to research on teh Interwebs.

I agree doing them all as “partial recording of Act X” doesn’t seem right. That’d break using works to associate different recordings of the same thing, leave no way to specify in the database what order it goes in, etc.

They’re also not random excerpts, whims of the recording, or anything like that. They’re perfectly logical breaks from the way the opera is laid out… though so far as I can tell, by the librettist not the composer, and in the libretto, not the score.

There are some challenges to that, though. Mostly, the libretto, etc. I have been able to find don’t really seem to name/number them. I think a descriptive name would work (e.g., …Dialog 'first line here"), and probably use numbering based on the score (worst case, you get things like …Dialog between nos. 4 and 5 “first line here”).


I hate to admit I have given up editing opera. I believe there’s quite many editors interested in opera but they are just confused when there’s no clear rules available. I guess we are all just waiting for “someone to write guidelines for it” and when we all do the same nothing happens.

I believe our biggest problem is how to deal with unnumbered operas but like we’ve seen on this topic even numbered operas aren’t trivial.

I personally give little value for dialogue. Typically if you see any music related website they might be listing numbered parts but never I’ve seen dialogue listed. I could live with linking dialogue with “partial recording of Act X”. If we decide to include spoken dialogue naming of works could be done with first lyrics. I’m not sure how to split them.

Since we can order part works now, this probably wouldn’t be necessary - we can just set it between 4 and 5 in the order, and it should be clear enough from the work view where it goes :slight_smile:

While I haven’t given up as such, I’ll generally just link the whole act as a partial recording of the act work - which seems to be the intended use in the current guidelines anyway, but basically anything other than that just takes way too much work (unless the opera work is very well cleaned up and organised).

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That’s how I have understood the guidelines too.

I’m still randomly editing some opera but usually not including all the stuff I commonly do with other releases. I’m especially avoiding huge opera releases with multiple mediums. I have nothing against opera but I’m quite annoyed about the current situation with works. Even if I today fix one opera, tomorrow someone will batch add 30 news parts which I should merge to correct ones :rage:

I think we should decide how to name and split unnumbered operas because current culture is to add a new work for everything which doesn’t exactly match with track/recording title. I once counted Spotify titles for most popular operas and realized that some of them could have over thousand parts with this logic. It would be useless to have countless works which have only one recording linked with them.

I will start investigating if there would be any decent logic of naming and splitting the works. I will take couple of the most popular operas and compare how those have been currently splitted on releases. Maybe there would be some decent way to splitting operas based on libretto.


Entering an opera is definitely a ton of work (double- or triple-digit track counts, different ARs on each track, what joy!).

I suggested the “between nos. 4 and 5” to help with searching… but I guess the first line should work for that too. [Maybe—won’t help if the CD decides to split the section in two; no idea if anyone does that.]

I’m fine with putting all the spoken parts to just be partial performances of the act—especially since my release doesn’t have them. :grin: But someone seemed to consider that valuable, so I hate to destroy their work. Especially when it seems like it’s fixable. Maybe something like this guideline:

If an opera release contains spoken dialog sections without music, you can link those recordings as partial recordings of the act. Alternatively, you enter a work for each section, titled like Opera, Act 1, Dialogue “First line”. Do not further split the section based on, e.g., multiple tracks on a CD.

Figuring out how to split Wagner, etc. seems like a separate (though still important) issue. PS: I’ll go through Parsifal (because I’ve at least seen that one performed) on Google Play Music to see if it’s normally split the same way. Will take a few days before I get the chance.


I haven’t given up on editing operas either but haven’t done much for the moment (there are still a lot of lower-hanging fruits first…).

My two eurocents:

I think Mozart operas shouldn’t be a problem here. Most releases split tracks
nearly the same way around the arias or spoken sections. I would have
separate works for the spoken parts as ordered part works, with the first line explicitly quoted in the work title.

From my (limited) experience that’s never the case for Die Zauberflöte or Don Giovanni where the spoken sections are always very short (< 2 minutes). Some releases skip completely the spoken parts also.

I added a few Wagner releases and they are much more annoying, with scenes ~20 minutes long without a clear and unique way to split, and all releases I found have their own way to split it in 3-6 minutes tracks.

I dislike the idea of linking all recordings to a “partial” scene, but I don’t see how to do better…

Let me know if I can help, I would be happy to make things move forward

Indeed. My “guess related works” script can help, usually the track titles on opera are sufficiently explicit to find the right related work automatically.

One thing I have been thinking about for some time (but is not ready to be implemented) to make filling AR easier is to write a script that:

  • takes the related work to determine the characters singing on a track
  • looks at the corresponding singer in the release AR or release annotation
  • fills automatically the singers (with voice range and character name) as recording AR

Of course I first need the track title to be complete with the right lyrics (so that the related work can be autoguessed easily) and the work title to contain the character names in a reliable way. Easier said than done…

One last point about Wagner, I wanted some feedback before trying: I thought about creating new works explicitly for excerpts of the opera played as concert pieces (Ride of the Valkyries, Magic Fire…). Those are usually slightly different from the parts played in the opera itself and would make it easier to distinguish between opera recordings/classical compilations. Any thoughts?

Sounds like we’re on the same page here. I think I’ll attempt it on the Magic Flute (probably this weekend), and after doing so add an annotation to the main work and acts saying it’s been cleaned up, and to see this forum thread before adding new parts.

An idea: If there are common enough breaks used by releases, we could use those—then, if a release breaks things smaller, it’ll have a few partial recordings of the breaks we picked (far better than of the 20+ minute act/scene). Or if it breaks them differently, a recording could be a partial recording of the two adjacent works we picked. (Or a full of one and partial of the other, or full of both). Pretty sure a recording can be linked to multiple works.

Some of those at least have known arrangers, etc., so they should go in the catalog as separate works. E.g.,

but checking the edit history, you’re definitely aware of that.

I guess you’re talking about other releases, where the arranger isn’t known? If so, I agree a catch-all for other arrangements makes sense.

Do any work titles currently contain it? It’s not mentioned in CSG’s opera section (but possibly should be, I presume in parentheses after the title?). Or it could be a new AR type, but—that opens a whole new can of worms.

The subworks of Don Giovanni have it, I don’t remember how reliable they are though: