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If you love opera or even have any desire to learn about it, this big and beautiful book is a wonderful treat to wander through. You don't need to know anything at all about opera to find this book most enjoyable. As you read the articles and examine the pictures you will begin to see why grand opera is one of the greatest of the art forms. It involves music, drama (and comedy). Instrumental music and singing, dancing, costumes (fashion), painting for those glorious sets, stagecraft, and much more. Millions love opera, and while many of us live or used to live in areas without an opera company or we can't afford the tickets (opera is expensive to produce), this book can bring to life affordable audio recordings of the singing and music.

The authors have provided us articles on 124 composers and 338 operas. The book is organized alphabetically by composer and then chronologically within the composer's life. The major composers have longer articles about their lives. The articles on the operas include not only the facts of the first performance, but also a brief synopsis of the story of the opera. The articles often provide information about major performances of the work. And the book is full or wonderful pictures of the composers, the operas in their various performances, set designs, the great stars over the centuries, an the opera houses. A few musical examples of great moments in the opera are often included.

This book is wonderfully informative and very entertaining. Given how inexpensively this book can be purchased used, I don't see why anyone would want to be without it.
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on November 14, 2009
Over the past four centuries of western musical development, the opera came to embody the most complex presentation by combining visual and auditory elements with storytelling to the point where, especially in the 19th century, it became the most popular public entertainment Europe had to offer it citizenry from commoners to the aristocracy. That popularity continued to hold sway during the 20th Century with radio and television broadening the audience beyond what opera halls could every hope to achieve. "Opera: Composers, Works, Performance" is a 928-page compendium showcasing 350 operatic works, 140 opera composers, and places them all within four hundred years of European cultural history reflecting the evolution and highlights of this distinctive musical form, forum and format. Impressively enhanced with the inclusion of a musical terms glossary, musical scores, a comprehensive index, and a profusion of period photographs and illustrations, "Opera: Composers, Works, Performance" is superbly organized and alphabetically arranged encyclopedia of detailed information that makes it ideal for opera buffs and musicologists. Simply stated, "Opera: Composers, Works, Performance" is an absolute 'must' for professional, academic, and community library reference collections.
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on April 3, 2001
You might be impressed by the size and dimension of the book at your first glance when you opened the carton box. This big and thick book is full of colorful photographs, pictures and illustrations on opera that we have in music history, including composers' biographies and the synopsis of the opera in feature. That's not the end. There are some medium-length, reader-friendly articles on some interesting topics of opera, like how an opera come into shape, Haydn's opera at Esterhaza, Italian opera in England etc. An impressive volume for both amateur listeners and opera lovers.
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VINE VOICEon February 9, 2013
The book is copiously, indeed lavishly, illustrated. But be ye warned: the vast majority of the photos are of German modernist stagings. If your idea of The Barber of Seville is to see Rosina peeking out of a stage-model's left breast, this book is for you. Traditionalists stay away!
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on January 18, 2013
This book is a monster book. It is way too heavy to be frequently read. However, it includes descriptions and discussions that cover key points for each work that could otherwise could take many other resources to cover. Close to erudite...

However, this book could use less of the photos that make it so large and heavy (there are many photos of every work covered). If it is intended as a coffee table book, it does the trick (only make sure you have a robust coffee table). But to the reader who wants to consult it for every new Saturday MET performance, it's too difficult to handle; I would take an electronic version, if there was one available. In addition, this book has a paper sleeve that deteriorates very easily even if the book is carefully handled. I would have preferred that the elegant cover-picture were printed directly on the hardcover; this book deserves it.

The photos are of excellent quality, though.
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on July 1, 2013
I bought this as a gift for my wife, so perhaps she should be writing the review. This volume is as advertised, a thorough survey of opera. Had we the flexibility in our ratings, I would probably give it a 4 1/2 because of what I considered a couple of discrepancies. One of my complaints echoes what other reviewers have written, that there are far too many photos of modern or experimental performances of the operas when we might appreciate seeing traditional depictions more. Secondly, there seems to be no mention among the singers of the late Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, a formidable performer, wife of Rostroprovich, and courageous political activist. Beyond these things, it is otherwise a splendid book. If one needs a one-volume reference on opera, this is the one.
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on January 12, 2015
There is a new edition of this book, but since I didn't want to pay $100 for it I was happy to find this brand new copy of the old edition - just like the one I have at home. It was a gift for a friend. Most operas were written long before the book was written anyway, so only the newest works are missing...and I don't know if they are in the new edition either. The book itself is tremendous - very complete with production photos and snippets of themes from the musical scores.
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on June 25, 2011
This book is a must have for every opera lover, and every musician, truly a wonderful addition to any home library. Perfect, with beautiful pictures and easy to read subheadings. Very Impressed.
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OPERA is an incredibly comprehensive and current resource on the composers, works, and performers involved in an Opera production. I highly recommend it.
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on April 21, 2010
This heavy book is a true enjoyment with it's numerously pictures and illustrations.
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