When an opera Release does not specify who performed which track

I am working on a Release of an opera. The opera release comes with a Booklet, which lists the 59 tracks on the Release’s 3 CDs, but does not specify which of the 9 singers and choruses sang on each track.

I want to enter performance credits for these singers. What is an appropriate way to do so? Should I:

  • Guess at who sings when, based on the work parts related to each track/recording and with reference to the score? What evidence is good enough to justify that guess?
  • Relate performance of singers to the Release, rather than to Recordings? (Based on the idea that it is better to document that I’m not sure than to claim something I don’t know.)
  • Relate performance of conductor and orchestra to every track/recording, because it is a good guess that they actually were performing for each one? (This actually seems quite reasonable to me.)
  • Relate all singers to all tracks/recordings? (Based on a policy that over-crediting is better than under-crediting.)

It would be a lot easier to guess which performers are related to which tracks/recordings if I could look up which characters performed on each Work-part. Each track is related to the appropriate Work parts. If work ‘Acte V Trio “Loin de la ville”’ is written for the roles Berthe, Fides, and Jean; and if those roles are sung by Scotto, Horne, and McCracken on this Release, and CD 3 Track 15 is a Recording of part of that Work, I can justify crediting those three singers on that track/recording. It isn’t solid: maybe one of them isn’t involved in the part of the Work covered by the Recording.

But in any event, the Work parts do not have that information. I just finished entering 53 Work parts under the Acts of the Work for the opera overall, by reading through a vocal score, IMSLP43746-PMLP68452. The names of those Work parts are based on the Classical Style Guide for Works.

I have seen some people append the characters involved in a work part, in parentheses, at the end of the Work part name. The CSG for Works is silent about this practice. I did not do so, but I could.

  • Is it desirable to add role names to Work part names? If so, is it worth promoting a CSG proposal to document this?
  • Is it desirable to document which role is involved in each Work part through the Work’s Annotation? If so, are there Works which are role models (pun not intended) for doing this well?
  • Is there some other way to document which role is involved in each Work part, other than the Work part names or the Work’s Annotation?

That’s what I usually do :slight_smile:

welcome to the opera club, I guess~ :melting_face:

I recently added this release of Carmen, and fortunately it had the parts listed in the booklet. you may check your booklet for that. for the titles of the works I created for this release, I just used the track titles, which is why they include the roles.

as to how to relate the singers and choruses, the first 3 options seem reasonable to me. I wouldn’t do option 4, as you’d have some incorrect relations on the recordings in that case.

one thing of note, I see you’ve set the release language as English, but it looks like the tracklist is in French? edit: I just looked at the docs, and it looks like it should be set to the language of the release and track titles.

…and I have done that. That was the easy decision. The others are harder.

Why thank you! I have been a member for a while.

I had checked, and the corresponding pages in my booklet do not include the roles. So, I’m still in the market for a good policy to follow in that case.

I see that in your Work parts for the German translation of Carmen you included the roles in parentheses at the end of each Work part name. The Work parts of the original French version of Carmen have roles only for some Work part names. So, two different examples to consider.

It just occurred to me that the principal singers are already part of the AlbumArtist structure, so they have a connection to the release — even if it is not in the form of a performance relationship. That doesn’t help the poor folks singing 2e and 3e Bourgeois, however.

The underlying problem is that the MusicBrainz data model does not have a concept of roles, so any attempt to represent roles will have to try to make some unstructured data field have extra meaning. The normal advice for this situation is to “put it in the Annotation, and let future editors figure it out”. If someone already did that with opera roles, I would love to look at it.

Oh, good catch. I did not set the language to anything; I am building on a Release, and language and script, set by another editor a few months ago. Titles are mostly French with a bit of Latin. I must confess, Release language and especially Release script are fields where my sense of duty sometimes crumbles. I just do not believe that these fields have much value to anyone, or well-defined meanings to guide the contributing editor. The script field seems particularly useless. One of my MusicBrainz ambitions is to delete Release script from the database. But that is a topic for another thread.

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in that case, I’d personally put the credits on the release. that or go on a detailed read of the 300+ page booklet, surely they found room for lyrics in there… but that is entirely your decision… :melting_face:

one thing @chabreyflint recommended in my thread for Carmen, you could add which role each vocalist played as. for example Marilyn Horne sang Mezzo-soprano [credited as Fides]*. that’s how I ended up entering the credits on Carmen

*I’m guessing on this credit, as that’s what Wikipedia says that role is to be played by, and Marilyn Horne is a Mezzo-soprano. :wink:

yeah, I have no idea what’s standard here, as Carmen is my first major classical work I’ve tackled… I could imagine there could be reasons to keep them or remove them, but I’m not experienced enough with classical to know…

I could see them being useful for transl(iter)ation pseudo-releases, but as you said, that’s getting a little off topic~


OK. So most everything has been said, and well said :grinning: already. Some more guidance on opera in the guidelines would actually be most welcome, but even without that the editors from the “opera club” have found – more or less – a consensus on how to edit opera “state of the art”.

The roles in Artist Credits of Recordings do have their specific field, as quoted above: Not just “Christa Ludwig - mezzo-soprano”, but “Christa Ludwig - mezzo-soprano , [credited as] Carmen”. If unsure (or lazy) I would not add performers of operatic releases at Release level: It’s better to just add the corresponding cover art instead or use annotation (which can more easily be removed when by-track credits are added)

At Work level I would ‘‘always’’ add the participating Singers/Performers in parenthesis after the track title. This will be the reference for every new Release of this opera, which otherwise would have to be researched anew for every new Release of a given opera. This Work structure, with the roles, based on the libretto, is my main source for adding artist credits to Tracks/Recordings, as long as the partial Works are cut in a somewhat similar way. I then would only have to check more in detail when the singers credited on a given Recording of a new Release do not match – or contradict with what’s already there at Work level. Adding the roles (in parenthesis) to the Tracks/Recordings is then no langer compulsory. In some rare cases the roles (at Work level) may still be in the disambiguation comment: if I stumble over such a leftover from some ancient practice I move it to the track titles (in parenthesis)

The french “Carmen” hasn’t been on my list so far, which explains why for some Work parts some roles are still missing :frowning_face: So not an example to consider, just unfinished work …

To find Opera Work Lists which are (I hope) “state of the art”, here’s the list of the composers i have been working lately Editor “chabreyflint” - MusicBrainz : most of the operas from these composers should now be as I believe they should …

As someone who’s editing only Latin script, barely recognising Cyrillic, Arabic, Greek and Hebrew and completely lost when coming to Han (3 versions), Japanese, Katakana, Korean (which I all couldn’t tell apart), I find the script indication quite helpful at least as a hint.


Thank you, @chabreyflint. This is exactly the sort of answer I was hoping to elicit.

I like this practice also (except that I would word it as Roles, not Singers/Performers, and it would be Work name, not track title). If it is indeed a generally accepted best practice, then let’s add it to the CSG/Works guidelines explicitly.

I missed seeing your results as guidance. The first opera I checked was Die Walküre by Wagner, where no-one has appended roles to work part titles yet. So, my sample did not overlap your excellent work.

I can get behind this. The MusicBrainz web app displays it well. See this example Recording, it looks great:

| soprano vocals [Butterfly]: | Raina Kabaivanska (soprano) |
| tenor vocals [Pinkerton]: | Nazzareno Antinori (tenor) |

I think it is important to be clear about what field to fill in. There are two “credited as” fields in a Recording-Artist performer relationship. You are not referring to the field labelled “Credited as” just below the performer’s name. You are referring to the text field in the performance attribute just to the right of the attribute entry (e.g. “Soprano vocals”). This unlabelled field has a message, “credited as”, as its contents, but that disappears as soon as you enter a role name.

If it is indeed a generally accepted best practice, then let’s add it to the Style/Relationships guidelines explicitly.

Excellent. Is there a place in our documents for “outstanding examples”? I would love to have some of these entries featured there.

As for the digression,

Oh, absolutely. But software should be able to read the characters in a text field, and tell you the script(s) they use. I don’t see a reason to ask humans to enter this information. And the proper granularity for this information is the individual text field. It is not always the same for every field in a Release entry.


You’re welcome. In the context of formalising in our guidelines some of the conventions generally used by the “opera buffs” (as pointed out above), the message I sent to @loujin just a couple of days ago, may answer some more of your questions regarding what could be added to our guidelines

Hi Loujin,

In 2016/17 you made a major job on the Work level of the Mozart/Da Ponte Operas. I plan to revert part of your work to reduce complexity and follow better what has become consensus among most editors doing opera since then.

I plan to reduce complexity and redundancies by:

a) changing all track/recording titles to simple „Don Giovanni“ (instead of „Il dissolute punito ossia il Don Giovanni“), leaving the complete title only with the (linked) overall Work. Same for „Così“, where still there, and eventually on „Figaro“

b) reverting your structuring the Work by „Scenes“ and removing the „scene“ indications on Work parts, following here our current (minimal) guidelines for opera Style / Classical / Works - MusicBrainz, which suggests to not use scenes: „A scene is not an independent work in an opera. Furthermore, scenes can change completely independent of the music, sometimes several times during a single number. In general you should not create “scene works” as a container for numbers.

c) Normalising language inconsistencies to the language of the track/recording titles and the original lyrics, (e.g. changing „Act“ to „Atto“, or „Chorus“ to „Coro“.

I hope you can live with these changes which I already applied on „Die Zauberflöte“ (with normalising to German instead of Italian of course: Work “Die Zauberflöte, K. 620: Akt I” - MusicBrainz)

Should you disagree, please tell me so :slight_smile:

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