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Opera as Drama: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520246928
ISBN-10: 0520246926
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

By and large, the new edition of Opera as Drama retains the spirit and format of the original ( LJ 11/1/56). However, in an effort to generalize the methodology used throughout the work, Kerman has added an interesting section outlining a viable method of opera criticism. In addition, he has modified the chapter devoted to Mozart to include a penetrating discussion of Idomeneo. The thoughtful withdrawal of somewhat callow remarks on various composers, operas, etc., will also be regarded as a welcome revision by many readers. Alterations notwithstanding, Kerman's study remains one of the most captivating books on opera to date. Highly recommended. William J. Waters, Pensacola Junior Coll., Fla.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"If you are for opera, this book is for you." - New York Times Book Review "The most influential recent book on opera criticism... in the English-speaking world" - New Grove Dictionary of Opera "Affords the serious reader and listener an absorbing encounter with a sensitive and superbly trained intelligence in the act of thinking about music and music criticism.... We come away remembering the sound of Kerman's prose voice, mellifluous, elegant, eminently civilized, beneath its cool control a ground bass of urgent feeling." - San Francisco Chronicle Book Review "The author's clarity and pungency...make for enjoyable, challenging reading. It is a collection that can tease the person who is primarily interested in opera into wanting to explore the song literature of the English Renaissance or to listen more knowledgeably to Mozart's piano concertos and Beethoven's symphonies." - William Ashbrook, Opera Quarterly "Kerman's musicological activity is technical without neglecting the importance of text, cultural context, meaning, expression, and value, and is likely to appeal to educated lay people.... Kerman's scholarship is careful and sensitive, and often subtle and witty. Yet this subtle scholarship has evoked strong and widespread reaction and provided significant leadership within musicology and beyond." - Renee Cox Lorraine, Notes "Lucid, lively.... Many aspects of his work can provide inspiration." - Oliver Neighbour, Music and Letters"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Fiftieth Anniversary edition (December 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520246926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520246928
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #998,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By gtra1n VINE VOICE on May 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Why does opera exist as a form? Why do people attend operas, and listen to them? Why should you do so? This classic, brilliant book by Kerman makes the case clearly and strongly.

Opera is drama; beyond the staged spectacles and emblambed warhorses that seem to draw the biggest audiences, opera exists to convey drama, especially the drama of interior actions, emotions and existence. This is why characters are singing, not merely speaking.

Kerman uses the examples, in case study form, of arguably histories greatest operas to point out why the form exists and thrives, and also what makes a work good, and what makes one fail. He begins with Monteverdi and ends with 20th century works like "Wozzeck" and "The Rakes Progress," while also covering Verdi, Wagner, Mozart. His chapter on Mozart's operas is one of the greatest pieces of musical critical thinking that has been written, it explains the greatness of Mozart as an opera composer and also the near-greatness, and flaws, of "Don Giovanni" and "Cosi fan tutte." Kerman also points out what some popular works fail as drama, and thus as opera.

This is the single best work to introduce listeners to the form. Highest recommendation.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
The comon view of opera is recitative=drama, arias=music, and therefore not drama. Kerman makes a different (and therefore genuine) claim. he says that in opera the music IS the drama. To illustrate this, he enters a thorough venture in the world of opera, from the first masterpiece - Monteverdi's "orfeo" to wagner and modern operas. The work includes a discussion of the works of such giants as verdi and mozart, and also a critical look at the Leitmotive technics. Kerman is imaginative, provocative, write in a clear language. altough the book demands a background in opera appreciation. It does not demands a musical background. To some it is almost "the bible" of opera understanding. A master achievement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Harris on January 28, 2015
Format: Paperback
If you're into opera deep enough to read -this- I want to recommend the original version as well. The very controversial things that the author tried to smooth over in the revised edition are actually things that I (mostly) -liked-. One of the main points of the book is to -be- critical of opera; that there are some composers and operas that just -aren't- that great (despite their massive popularity). Most people don't see opera like pop music... there are guilty pleasures among great songs. Kerman's point is that there are a LOT of operas that are not so great and we should stop treating them all as 'jewels' in a way that we would never do with other types of music. In the original, he had the guts to -be- controversial... if not always PC.

In short, read this. But then, read the original... just understand that some of his rants there are meant to stir the pot, which, IMO opera definitely needs.
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