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A Guide to Opera Recordings Hardcover – August 20, 1987

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Mordden's research has been exhaustive...and his sassy style makes for breezy reading."--The Houston Post

About the Author

About the author:
Ethan Mordden was the Assistant Editor of Opera News magazine for two years. His seventeen books include Broadway Babies, Movie Star, The Splendid Art of Opera, The Hollywood Musical, and three works of fiction, I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore, One Last Waltz, and Buddies.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (August 20, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195044258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195044256
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,856,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is one of my favorite books about opera recordings. Mordden is writing specifically for opera conoisseurs and this book is probably not for the first-comers, but if you are already acquainted with many operas and their recordings, this book is a treat. The book follows the history of opera on recordings with a particular emphasis on several key composers, and Mordden discusses the most important historical live or studio recordings from a very personal perspective. You can clearly see his preferences (e.g. Callas), and dislikes, but as you read his reviews, you can really feel that he has really experienced and thought about the performances he analyses. One may disagree with some reviews, but they all offer a new perspective. I have been rereading this book for the last ten or so years, and particularly like his thoughts on "Norma" and the "Ring" recordings. Once again, if you have had enough of superficial "opera for beginners" books and want something deeper and more rewarding, you should get this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a very fun and helpful read. Its breezy style belies its scholarship. As with any record-review tome, no reader will agree with all of Mordden's opinions, but he's easy to "peg," so that when you read his opinions about the various recordings of a certain opera, you can extrapolate whether you would agree with him in that particular case.

The world of opera recordings has moved on quite a bit since this book was written, however, so perhaps it's time for a revision and an update. Many operas that had never been recorded when this book was published now have several competing versions on CD, and many "top choice" recordings of the past have found new and challegning competitors for the consumer's wallet.

With that caveat, I recommend this book. I still re-read it, in part and in whole, quite frequently.
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