Despite being the most preposterous of art forms, opera has somehow survived the centuries. For most, though, it's an acquired taste, and this excellent history does a good deal to explain its origins and evolution to the opera buff. Fawkes's text is learned and insightful, but it's completely free of stuffiness and isn't likely to intimidate any listener with an intermediate knowledge of classical music. Robert Powell's reading is as confident and gentle as a guide's should be, with good command of all the German, Italian and Russian words. Finally, the 100 musical selections-not just from the Naxos catalogue, but also including early historical recordings-are well chosen, and just the right length to illustrate the concepts. D.B. (c) AudioFile 2000, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.