A Night at the Opera
An Irreverent Guide to the Plots, the Singers, the Composers, the Recordings
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ISBN10: 0375751769 ISBN13: 9780375751769 Publisher: Modern Library Published: Aug 1 1998 Pages: 959 Weight: 2.25lbs. Height: 9.25" Width: 6.25" Depth: 1.75" Language: English
"Delightful and anti-reverential"--Sunday Times (London) With an encyclopedic knowledge of opera and a delightful dash of irreverence, Sir Denis Forman throws open the world of opera--its structure, composers, conductors, and artists--in this hugely informative guide. A Night at the Opera dissects the eighty-three most popular operas recorded on compact disc, from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur to Mozart's Die Zauberfl te. For each opera, Sir Denis details the plot and cast of characters, awarding stars to parts that are "worth looking out for," "really good," or, occasionally, "stunning." He goes on to tell the history of each opera and its early reception. Finally, each work is graded from alpha to gamma (although the Ring cycle gets an "X"), and Sir Denis has no qualms about voicing his opinion: the first act of Fidelio is "a bit of a mess," while the last scene of Don Giovanni "towers above the comic finales of Figaro and Cos and whether or not it] is Mozart's greatest opera, it is certainly his most powerful finale." The guide also presents brief biographies of the great composers, conductors, and singers. A glossary of musical terms is included, as well as Operatica, or the essential elements of opera, from the proper place and style of the audience's applause (and boos) to the use of subtitles. A Night at the Opera is for connoisseurs and neophytes alike. It will entertain and inform, delight and (perhaps) infuriate, providing a subject for lively debate and ready reference for years to come.