This chapter takes a broad look at the opera libretto; it considers the profession of librettist, the selection of the libretto for a particular season, publishing and printing privileges, revisions to the libretto, and the libretto as a source of income. During the 17th century, a number of men became professional rather than occasional librettists, and most librettos performed in Venice were written by Venetians themselves. The initial cost of the libretto was often borne by the printer, who then distributed profits either to the librettist or the impresario and his partners. The librettist also stood to gain a profit through the fees from dedication. As a result, an impresario could gain extra income for his company by mounting a revival — that is a previously performed libretto — thereby bypassing the need for a librettist altogether. Librettos were not just purchased for use at the theater, but were also preserved in collections, as well as sent to those unable to attend the performances themselves.
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