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100 Great Operas And Their Stories: Act-By-Act Synopses by [Simon, Henry W.]
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100 Great Operas And Their Stories: Act-By-Act Synopses Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

An invaluable guide for both casual opera fans and afficionados, this volume contains act-by-act descriptions of operatic works ranging from the early seventeenth century masterworks of Monteverdi and Purcell to the modern classics of Menotti and Britten. Written in a lively anecdotal style, entries include character descriptions, historical background, and much more.

From the Inside Flap

An invaluable guide for both casual opera fans and afficionados, this volume contains act-by-act descriptions of operatic works ranging from the early seventeenth century masterworks of Monteverdi and Purcell to the modern classics of Menotti and Britten. Written in a lively anecdotal style, entries include character descriptions, historical background, and much more.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1310 KB
  • Print Length: 562 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Revised edition (November 17, 2010)
  • Publication Date: November 17, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004AM5QX0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,422 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David E. Levine on December 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book a number of years ago and it has made attendance at both the Metropolitan Opera and NYC Opera that much more rewarding. I have read the few page outlines of each of the operas before attending and thus, at the performance, I follow the highlights of the given opera well. I remember when I once attended "Die Walkure," I spent plenty of time preparing (this was back before they projected the libretto while the opera takes place) and this book's coverage of the Ring cycle in general, and this opera, in particular, was a great starting point for me. I was well prepared to fully appreciate the performance. Even operas I have seen over and over merit a review before attending a performance and this book gives a great review. In addition to a good synopsis of the plot, the book gives interesting facts and histories of the operas covered. This book has been in print for a long time. There is a reason for this .. because it is truly a well written, valuable reference. Purcahsing this book is money well spent.
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Format: Paperback
I owned this book last year when I started to get into opera. I like this book because the background material is interesting, the synopsis of each opera is covered in enough depth to understand what the opera is essentially about, and each synopsis is clear. (Unfortunately, Opera synopsi tend to be confusing and dry in most books.)
However this book only covers 100 operas (as it states in the title.) So, if you are mostly interested in the "Warhorses" such as La Traviata, Turandot, Boris Gudonov, et. al. then this is the book for you. However, don't be surprised if an opera that sounds intriguing that your local opera house is playing or you see at a music store is not represented.
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Format: Paperback
A great collection of the 100 most beloved operas. Very helpful for any aspiring opera singer, such as myself, to dig up interesting information about the background of the opera, the plot, where and when the arias take place, and many interesting factoids about the origin of the librettos and the circumstances under which the composer chose to write the opera. An absolute must-have for an opera lover!!!
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Format: Paperback
100 Great Operas and Their Stories greatest virtue is the number of things it doesn't contain. Among the missing: a list of great preformances, a list of opera singer who have performed the rolls, the usually rating system, and of course the almost obligatory rating/list of available CDs. It contains exactly what its title says -- the stories of the great operas. A list of the cast, a very short background history and the story of the opera act by act. The experienced opera goers can refresh themselves in a few minutes. The novice can find out what its all about in the same time. Also, you can slip the book into your pocket and take it along to the opera for a quick revue before the overture begins.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title page of this edition includes the following words: "A new revised and abridged edition of Festival of Opera."

I sort of wish I'd been aware of that fact BEFORE ordering my copy of this 554-page, 1989 paperback. I've subsequently ordered (a used copy of) the original, 704-page, 1957 hardback edition. Not only does Festival of Opera cover 129 (instead of just 100) operas, but also it includes intermittent illustrations (black-and-white line drawings by Fritz Kredel). NO illustrations remain in this 1989 abridgement.

The deletion of such "adequate" (far from stunning) pictures doesn't greatly perturb me (though I do prefer having `em to not having `em). But the excision of such operas as Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur," Monteverdi's "Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda" and Berlioz' "The Damnation of Faust" does somewhat perturb me (even though the 29 deleted works are the relatively less popular ones). [Note: On the "plus" side(?), Britten's "Peter Grimes" is included in this 1989 edition (it wasn't included in the 1957 edition).]

Also, the final, 32-page "index" of the 1957 hardcover edition has been totally deleted from this 1989 paperback edition. That's a fairly significant omission, insofar as you can no longer look up (for example) a composer's surname alphabetically to find the page numbers pertaining to his opera(s).

The only other noteworthy difference between this 1989 paperback and its 1957 antecedent involves the editions' respective (different) prefaces.
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Format: Paperback
I have used this book for many years as a quick reference for studying operas that are new to me, and for that purpose, the book is excellent. Even though the book is limited to 100 entries, I usually find the opera I want to study. My main complaint about this book is the amount of "editorializing" offered by Mr. Simon. He is certainly an expert in opera, but he makes his personal likes and dislikes clear (perhaps the reason why some obscure operas are included...?). He offended me when he described Puccini's masterpiece, La Fanciulla del West, as a "tired" and "second-rate" Italian opera. Many times he crosses the line from well-educated informant to opinionated critic. That said, his writing is very readable and even humorous at times. I simply advise readers to be aware that this book is not entirely a reporting of facts.
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