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
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