Maria Bjornson was primarily active throughout her career as a designer for opera, despite the fact that her wider fame tended to come from her design for the stage musical Phantom of the Opera.
Redcase Limited and its Maria Bjornson Archive have commenced a History of Opera Archive collection. This includes first editions of both the French and American editions of the book of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The Little Prince was the last opera which Maria designed before her death.
Although some attention is being given to operas with which Maria was specifically connected, the entire field of opera has been chosen for the subject area of the archive, with an emphasis on material prior to the twentieth century.
As part of the archive service, a considerable body of material will eventually be made available online, on this website, for free download in pdf format.
For this purpose, Redcase will make available its own collection of nineteenth century material relating to Verdi’s Otello, which includes an item signed by Massenet as well. All of this material will be available for download.
In addition, Robert and Olivia Temple have made available to Redcase on extended loan the opera material from their collection of rare published and manuscript musical scores, and this material will also be made available for free download on the website. These scores include a first edition score of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and a second edition score of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. A variety of manuscripts of old operatic arias will be made available, and may prove useful to singers and musicologists. It is unknown whether some of these are autograph scores or copies made for performance purposes. One such manuscript is of the duet from Armida by Rossini. The score bears the initials J.S. and may be an autograph from the librettist, John Schmidt. It is dated April, 1818, at Naples. The first performance was 11 November 1817 at Naples. The extra-large writing of the words suggests a special score prepared by the librettist for a singer with poor eyesight, who already knew the music (which is not written large) but needed a special prompt for the words.
The material for download will be added as and when time permits for the scanning of such lengthy scores and such bulky material.