Posted by & filed under Events.

Welcome to the UNT Music Library Blog! We’re so excited to share information on important musicians and composers, keep you up to date with new and notable materials at the library, share some of our favorite playlists, and much more. Today’s post is all about opera!

What is opera?

This art form combines elements of dance, music, drama, and art. It’s a dramatic story told completely through song. All of the music is performed live by the vocalists and an orchestra, and no mics or additional amplification is needed. Some of the most well-known stories have been turned into opera, like Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Opera can trace its roots back to ancient Greece, where plays would incorporate song and dance. The first operas were composed in Florence, Italy and quickly gained popularity across Europe. They are often based on a pre-existing work that serves as the basis for plot and libretto (the words/text).

New to opera? Here are four classic works for you to enjoy:

The Marriage of Figaro by W.A. Mozart
La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini
Aida by Giuseppe Verdi
Carmen by Georges Bizet

These operas and more can be streamed online through the following UNT Libraries music databases:

Opera in Video

Music Online: Classical Performance in Video

Met Opera on Demand

OPERA FACT: Opera singers can project over a full orchestra because they sing at a different frequency.

UNT Opera

Live opera faces a unique challenge under current social distancing protocols and UNT’s Opera Department is using this opportunity to be innovative, putting a twist on Gaetano Donizetti’s classic Lucia di Lammermoor. The story follows Lucia and Edgardo, secret lovers who belong to two opposing houses in Scotland. Lucia’s brother Enrico forces her to marry another nobleman, claiming Edgardo has married another woman, and Lucia slowly loses her sanity. She eventually goes mad, kills her husband Arturo in their bed, and dies. Edgardo, learning of her death, kills himself in order to reunite with her in heaven.

Under the direction of Jonathan Eaton and Willem Van Schalkwyk, musical director, UNT Opera shares:

“Donizetti’s beloved bel canto masterpiece is interpreted in a whole new Covid-compliant concept: Lucia finds herself at the beginning of the opera in an isolation ward, surrounded by plastic curtaining; she relives the events that led up to her madness, and try as she might to make meaningful contact with others, no-one will come within nine feet of her… the time is the present. This production will be performed live in front of an invited, masked audience only, who will be seated according to social distance guidelines” (UNT Opera).

We reached out to Nini Marchese (soprano), one of the vocalists performing in the title role, to comment on the unusual circumstances this production is facing and what she hopes the audience will take away from the performance:

“The social distancing practices, definitely unusual for any of us, have inspired some incredible creativity for this show. You won’t find another like it! Unique to this production, Lucia will be performed by two sopranos and is dually set in a mental hospital and within her mind. The audience will not only see Lucia, a young woman, in an impossible situation driven to madness – but also how she perceives the traumatic memories playing out before her eyes. I think this take is so refreshing and touches on a hugely relatable theme during this era of COVID and quarantine – the human need for connection. I am so thankful that we are able to work together within the recommended guidelines, and create opera.”

Lucia di Lammermoor performances are November 4, 5, and 6 at 7:30pm, November 8 at 3:00pm. If you’re interested in attending live, email the opera department ( for permission and ticketing information. Streamed performances can be viewed on November 21st at 7:30pm and on November 22nd at 3:00pm on the UNT Opera page.

Opera Advertisement. Picture of two Lucias.


English National Opera. “The Beginner’s Guide to Opera.”

University of North Texas Opera. “Introducing the 2020-2021 Season.”

Stage Agent. “Luccia di Lammermore: Characters.”


Posted by & filed under Digital Collections.

Merritt Johnson (1902-1978) was a pianist, organist, and composer on faculty at Northern State College (now University) in Aberdeen, South Dakota; having studies with the likes of Josef Lhevinne and Darius Milhaud in addition to earning degrees from Oberlin, he was head of the NSC piano department for twenty-five years and played in the symphony orchestra there for forty-five.  He was also organist and Choir Director at Bethlehem Lutheran Church during that time. In addition to teaching and performing (and being Dean of the South Dakota Chapter of the American Guild of Organists), Johnson was also fairly prolific in composing and publishing: he was the first South Dakota composer commissioned to create a work for the National Music Teachers Association.  He once learned that his compositions had been used in the Moscow Conservatory of Music and throughout Europe, as well as in Turkey, Alaska and Canada. Johnson’s daughter Mitta Angel has been a violist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 1965 and Dr. Susan Vaughan (one of his students) recently became a resident of Denton, hence a project to digitize Johnson’s music was undertaken at the UNT Music Library. is a link to the collection in the UNT Digital Library, which includes:
  • Chord studies and technique books for piano
  • Anthems for mixed chorus in vocal score
  • Compositions for both organ and piano
  • Transferred LP recordings of piano, organ and choral music
Since this project was done with the approval of Johnson’s family, all items are digitally available open access; their physical counterparts are being cataloged and added to the UNT Music Library’s collection. Efforts are also underway at Northern State to digitize Johnson’s manuscripts, with an eventual plan to share the digital content between the two institutions. We sincerely hope this effort brings Johnson’s music to the awareness of more people, so please feel free to share! Merritt Johnson

Posted by & filed under Events.

Friday, April 22nd & Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Willis Library Forum (140)

  Founded in 1941 by Anna Harriet Heyer and Wilfred Bain, the University of North Texas Music Library has become one of the largest academic music libraries in the United States and has served as a fruitful training-ground for many highly successful music librarians. To celebrate its seventy-five years of activity in collection development, cataloging, and user services, the UNT Music Library will sponsor a symposium focusing on various themes relating to music libraries and music librarianship. In addition to paper or panel sessions, we will schedule concerts and social events. Attendees will also have the opportunity to explore the print, media, and special collections holdings of the UNT Music Library. Please consider joining us for this very special event! Registration is $50 and includes coffee breaks on both days, as well as a reception (admission to concerts is free). Contact Mark McKnight for more information.

Posted by & filed under Piano Rolls.

In this inaugural post, we are happy to present the first in a series of videos featuring our Model B Ampico Knabe reproducing piano, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Troika”, No. 11 from The Seasons (Op. 37a): This piano and over 5,400 rolls (as well as thousands of CDs, 78s, cylinders, etc.) were donated in 2013 by the estate of Joe Morris, a Dallas collector of sound recordings and vintage playback machines.  You can see the full list of piano rolls at Suffice to say we’ll be uploading more videos of piano rolls in performance on a regular basis!