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Ticket to the Opera: Discovering and Exploring 100 Famous Works, History, Lore, and Singers, with Recommended Recordings Paperback – August 31, 1999


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Ticket to the Opera: Discovering and Exploring 100 Famous Works, History, Lore, and Singers, with Recommended Recordings + Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera + Opera For Dummies
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449005666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449005668
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

These two works take a fresh look at opera-the works, singers, composers, and recordings. Both succeed in making opera accessible and interesting for the adult opera newcomer. Avoiding the elitist attitudes sometimes found in books on the subject, the authors rely instead on humor and fresh perspectives to enliven opera as a viable, modern entertainment. Goulding (Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1000 Greatest Works, Fawcett Columbine: Ballantine, 1992) writes the more comprehensive guide, covering 100 works with plot summaries, discussions of the music, and recommended recordings and videos, all with wit and marvelous economy of language. With this book, a reader could become an instant expert on all the operas likely to be heard today. Waugh, an opera critic and author of other books on recorded music, examines eight masterworks in detail here, with 50 additional thumbnail sketches. Lavish use of graphics helps make Opera: A New Way of Listening a multimedia presentation, similar to what one might encounter in a well-taught opera appreciation course. The book must be used in conjunction with the accompanying 72-minute CD, which includes excerpts (linked to the text) of 43 recordings by some of opera's best-known performers. These opera books succeed in presenting solid musical information for the uninitiated and also have much to offer connoisseurs. For most libraries with opera collections.
James E. Ross, WLN, Seattle
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

This potpourri of opera, written by a journalist with no formal musical training, is a guidebook for the "unwashed." Goulding also wrote Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works (Fawcett, 1992). This new book provides descriptions of 85 operas chosen because of their frequency of performance by major opera companies. Three to eight pages are devoted to most of the operas with sections on plot, keynote, highlights, commentary, number of Metropolitan Opera performances, and recommended recordings and videos. Since the 85 core operas include few American or twentieth-century operas, there are additional chapters on European operas of this century and a dream season of recent American operas. In total, Goulding discusses more than 140 operas and provides a number of lists, including by country and by century, and he even offers a basic collection--Marriage of Figaro is number 1. Other chapters define opera terms and list notable operatic stars; a unique chapter examines types of operatic voices and provides a list of arias for that voice.

With a mission to bring opera to everyone, Goulding writes in a very readable style. He suggests that before seeing the five-hour production of Parsifal, one might want to fast-forward through the video and risk "the eternal consequences of this heresy." There are black-and-white photographs interspersed throughout the text as well as numerous boxes with trivia, including a list of leading characters who kill themselves and the author's opera Oscars--Aida, the most spectacular; the most mayhem, La Gioconda.

Although opera aficionados might quibble over the core of 85, there are some nonwarhorses here--Lakme, Mefistofele, and Pique Dame. This new source follows another popular opera guide, A Night at the Opera [RBB F 1 96], which is more humorous and describes fewer operas in more detail. Both of these books will find a place in music collections in academic and public libraries. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Customer Reviews

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So, get the book and start having fun.
Glenn McDorman
If that's not enough information for you, he lists the most famous opera singers of the 20th century, including a fair evaluation of the best of the best.
G. Greene
Provides good information and a wonderful history of the world's great operas.
Joseph, your brother

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Garret on January 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book most profoundly influenced my knowledge of opera and its unique style. I do not exaggerate when I call it the Opera Bible. It is not only a formal introduction to the magic sound world of opera, but a terrific source of the mechanics of the living art of acting and singing. As a music teacher and vocal coach, this book has become quite handy. Author Phil G. Goulding himself has no affiliation with the opera, he is not a vocal coach, he is not a professional opera singer, but has keenly observed the art and has acquired knowledge and variety of tastes. Goulding calls the newcomer and novice who wishes to get acquianted with opera as "unwashed". The opera buff, connoisseur and opera tyrant is called "washed". Thankfully, there is no decline in the world of opera. There have been many people who serve as spokespeople for the cause of opera and have managed to draw crowds of young audiences away from rock and contemporary pop for a while so that they can hear the sublime sounds of tenors and sopranos.
This book has it all. It offers a history of opera, a list of composers and their operas, the categories the operas themselves fall under, for example, individual repertoire- French lyric opera, Italian bel canto opera, Italian verisimo, German Singspiel, opera-comique, Russian opera, grand opera, etc. It provides profiles and biographies on famous singers past and present. He does'nt seem to miss a single one- tenors Enrico Caruso, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavoratti, baritone Ezio Pinza, Samuel Ramey, dramatic sopranos Maria Callas, Shirley Verret, Montserrat Caballet, Birgit Nilsson, Kirsten Flagstad, Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, and so forth. He is detailed on the diverse vocal ranges for men and women.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Susan Hinojoza on November 30, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great introduction to the world of opera. The author is informative and never condescending. He is an excellent writer, interjecting just the right amount of humor and anecdote to keep the reading interesting. Because he isn't an self-appointed expert and isn't an opera "snob", his approach is not intimidating to people new to the form. I greatly appreciated his warm, open-armed welcome to the world of opera which made me feel comfortable rather than uneducated.
He gives a brief history of opera which is interesting and not too detailed. You will learn in a very short time what many of the confusing terms in opera really mean--for example, coloratura, soufrette, bel canto. You will also learn what the different singing voices are and he gives a list of particular arias to listen to to get the feel for each type. I found that very helpful, since people who are more experienced with opera than I seem to have no difficulty telling one type from another. I wondered if there was something wrong with me-? No--I just needed a gentle teacher to educate me. Goulding was it.
The author has chosen what he calls the Top 100+ by selecting the operas that have had the most performances at the MET. I like this method, because it wasn't based on his own personal bias, but on records kept at the opera house. 85 operas make up what he calls The Collection. He also has sections on 20th Century Eurpoean and American operas, bringing the total to 140 which is enough to keep anyone busy for a long time. For each opera, he includes interesting commentary, a synopsis, and a list of recommended recordings.
If you're new to opera, you can't go wrong with this book. Another great one is "Opera 101" by Plotkin.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Rudy Avila on March 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Phil Goulding has written a marvelous book. This monumental source of information features everything you can learn about opera- its history, the plots to the operas, famous singers, famous recordings, composers, lore, facts and comments from opera stars themselves. Like one reviewer said, it's the Opera Bible, although I prefer to label it an "Opera Encyclopedia". It serves more as an encyclopedia than it does a spiritually enlightening Bible. Phil Goulding is down-to-earth, witty and genuinely funny as he takes us on an exploration of discovery. If you are a novice or a lay person and want to get into opera and become more understanding of it's purpose and power, then this is the book for you. For experts, it's still a great book to refer to and to look up information about opera you may have missed or forgotten about.
Phil Goulding starts appropriately with the history of opera. It began as the last creation of the Renaissance. In the late 1500's, a group of aristocratic theatre and music lovers from Florence, Italy, collectively known as the Camerata, came up with a new medium of theatre - the opera. It was drama to be sung by its actors and to be played against music. The Baroque Era (1600-1750) witnessed the glory of the Baroque Opera. With music that was conventional for the new Baroque style which now featured instrumental orchestra (the music of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi)performers on stage sang to an elite royal audience. The operas of this time re-told legends and myths of ancient Greece and Rome (such as Daphne And Cloe or Orpheus and Eurydice) and the characters were gods, goddesses, kings and queens. The opera composers kept the characters and stories elevated so as to reflect the high status of the kings and queens who sponsored the operas.
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