The Albert Schatz Collection is a resource made available by the Library of Congress, which contains over 10,000 sources related to the history of opera. These sources include early editions of operatic works and liberati from Italy, Germany and France in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as other European works related to opera. It was originally compiled by a German music dealer named Albert Schatz, who traveled across the continent to find these sources, and eventually sold them to the Music Division Chief at the Library of Congress.
Beyond this collection, the Library of Congress website is an open-access resource available for students and teachers to browse. It boasts a wide selection of documents, many of which are free to use. These documents include photographs, books, films, web archives, legislation and more, from a range of subjects and time periods. The Library of Congress also offers some lesson plans making use of primary sources they host, a blog describing teaching methods, and other resources to enhance both the student and teacher experience. These resources, combined with its easy to use platform, make it, as well as this collection, great resources and guides for use in the classroom.
This collection is an excellent resource for students of music, opera, and history more broadly. Not only do these sources span a range of time periods, demonstrating how they may have changed in style or focus, but they also span a geographical area, so they may illustrate the regional differences in how operas were written. This collection could be used in the classroom as a way for students to study these differences, as well as the values and standards of behavior during these time periods and in these areas. Operas are an excellent window into how a society and culture spent their time, what they valued (or didn’t), and even what they found funny. All that and more can b e found by perusing this collection of sources.