This paper presents first some examples of intertextual collage in contemporary librettos, written by the composers (Harald Weiss, Amandas Traum, 1992 ; Helmut Lachenmann, Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, 1997 ; Wolfgang Rihm, Die Eroberung von Mexiko, 1992 ; Hans Zender, Stephen Climax, 1986, and Chief Joseph, 2005). Then follow two case studies :
- for Intolleranza 1960 (1961), Angelo Ripellino concieved a text that was far away from Luigi Nono’s aesthetical and dramaturgical ideas, therefore the composer made many changes, eliminated whole passages, and introduced quotations from many different sources (poetry, political slogans,...). In this way, he pointed out the aesthtics of collage that had always guided Ripellino.
- Luciano Berio’s rewriting of Italo Calvino’s Un re in ascolto is totaly different : Calvino had conceived a conventional libretto and proved himself unable to make the changes Berio asked for. Therefore, the composer wrote his own libretto after Shakespeare’s comedy The tempest, its operatic adaptation by Fr. W. Gotter, and W. H. Auden’s The sea and the mirror. Calvino’s contribution consists only in the words of Propero’s « arias », but the front page of the libretto bears his name, not Berio’s.