Music The Oxford History of Opera

ISBN 13: 9780192840288

The Oxford History of Opera

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9780192840288: The Oxford History of Opera

In its lavish amalgam of theatrical and musical resources, its flamboyant charm, its extravagant appeal to the heart and the mind, and its seemingly inexhaustible power to move and astonish us, opera is clearly the most spectacular of all the arts. Now, eleven leading authorities chronicle the full sweep of this stunning musical genre, ranging from the earliest known works to such recent experimental efforts as Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach.
The contributors--including such noted opera critics as William Ashbrook, Paul Griffiths, and Barry Millington--provide superb coverage of all the major periods. We read of the remarkable success of opera in republican Venice, where by 1650 some fifty operas had been performed, including masterworks by Monteverdi, the giant of the era. We learn of opera seria--which within the world of eighteenth-century Italian opera was the summit of prestige--and opera buffa, most noted today for three major works by Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutti. We explore the peak of opera's popularity in nineteenth-century France, Italy, and Germany, with astute commentary on such major composers as Berlioz, Bizet, Rossini, Donizetti, and especially Wagner and Verdi. And we examine the remarkably diverse works of our own century, from Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier and Alban Berg's Wozzeck to Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice and John Adams's Nixon in China. Throughout, the contributors illuminate how opera often reflects the cultural concerns of the age, how it is part of the social fabric, and in three fascinating sections on staging, singers, and the social climate, they give us a look behind the scenes as well as a feel for what opera was like in the past. We discover, for instance, that before the late nineteenth century, patrons were not expected to arrive on time, sit still, keep quiet, concentrate on the stage action, or stay to the end (Wagner put an end to this practice by darkening the theatre).
Nowhere does the rich panoply of opera history unfold more grandly than in this volume. Authoritative, vivid, and beautifully written, it will be treasured by everyone who loves opera.

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About the Author:


About the Editor:
Roger Parker is Lecturer in Music at Oxford University and Fellow of St. Hugh's College. Until recently an Associate Professor of Music at Cornell University, he has published extensively on Verdi and on nineteenth-century Italian opera.

From Library Journal:

There are few one-volume histories of opera available, and none includes the up-to-date information contained here. Nine leading authorities (all contributors to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 4 vols., LJ 2/15/93) provide insightful chapters on periods in opera history, from a thorough account of opera in the 17th century through the works of present-day composers such as Philip Glass and John Adams. Because it is intended for the general reader, this work has no musical examples or footnotes and is therefore less useful as a reference source than other works such as Donald J. Grout's A Short History of Opera (Columbia Univ. Pr., 1965. 2d ed.). The chapters are not organized in a strictly chronological format but are built around a series of concepts or arguments, presented with a wealth of supporting information, making the index (not seen) essential to finding answers to specific questions. For both the casual and informed reader, however, the more than 250 illustrations-many rare, and all appearing with detailed captions-will be of particular interest. There is also a notable chapter on staging, and the fascinating opera trivia (from traffic jams and ticket scalpers to a history of lavatories) found in John Rosselli's chapter, "Opera as Social Occasion," will hold readers' attention. Attractively priced, this unique reader is highly recommended for both academic and public libraries.
Kate McCaffrey, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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