When it opened in 1913, the Museum had a library of around 10,000 volumes, for the most part critical literature, theatre history, scores and biographies.
In the early 1950s, the 54,000-volume legacy of Renato Simoni bolstered the size of the collection at the library which, as specifically requested in his will, was opened as the “Livia Simoni” Library in memory of Simoni’s mother.
Over the years, the collection was increased by donations of books from Ruggero Ruggeri and Arnaldo Fraccaroli, which brought the number of volumes to a staggering 150,000, making the library one of the largest at home and abroad in its specialist field.
The oldest volume contains the comedies of Plautus, printed in Venice by Lazzaro Soardi in 1511. There are 363 sixteenth-century texts, most of them of exceptional value or rarity. The collection boasts over 400 seventeenth-century works, and an exceptional number of volumes from the eighteenth century onwards. The library’s adjoining archive contains 2,255 sketches, 6,959 figurines, 3,000 playbills, 6,000 opera librettos, 10,300 signed letters by actors, directors, composers and singers, 30 complete opera manuscripts (including Verdi’s Messa da Requiem and Rossini’s Tancredi) and 300 loose sheets (with pages of Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Puccini and Beethoven), 7,000 photographs and 10,000 engravings.
Viewing is by appointment only.
The library is open from 9am to 12:30pm and from 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday, by appointment only.
A computer workstation is available in the reading room for viewing manuscripts, playbills and sets that are no longer available in their originals.
View the Livia Simoni Photo Gallery