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A History of Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years Paperback – 6 Aug 2015


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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 Aug. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141009012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141009018
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,014,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Fresh . . . brave, challenging and, above all, useful. " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Carolyn Abbate is Professor of Music at Harvard University and the author of Unsung Voices and In Search of Opera. Her work has been translated into many languages. She herself is a translator, and has been involved in theatre as a dramaturge and director.

Roger Parker is Professor of Music at King's College, London, and the author of Leonora's Last Act and Remaking the Song. He is founding co-editor of the Donizetti critical edition, and editor of The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By H. A. Weedon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this is a very readable work pleasantly en-scripted by two renowned experts, it falls far short of being a reliable reference work for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the illustrations give all the appearance of having been thrown in as an afterthought and included just to add a smattering of colour to the text. Then again, the work is really about the history of around a dozen or so operatic composers with the rest either being mentioned in passing or left out altogether.

I've counted up to 19 operatic composers who are not even mentioned and a further thirteen who are mentioned only in passing and my lists are not exhaustive by any means. Here are some examples: Harrison Birtwhistle, George Gershwin and Francesco Cilea are not mentioned at all and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Michael Tippett and Henry Purcell are mentioned more or less as being in the nature of afterthoughts, and there are many others who fall into these two categories.

Unlike some other leading books about opera, this work does not include a glossary. A ramble through picturesque countryside can be be a most enjoyable experience, but even ramblers are careful to equip themselves with map and compass, both of which are sadly missing from this work. Whereas La Scala, Milan and the New York Metropolitan opera houses are mentioned frequently, many venues, including Glyndebourne, are not mentioned at all. Many great opera singers, past and present, are either mentioned in passing or left out altogether. However, these omissions are in some way compensated for by the inclusion of a colourful picture of Mickey Mouse conducting an orchestra.

Those looking for a good read through the subject may very well be more than happy with this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James E. Black on 22 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was keen to learn more about opera, feeling I'd been to a few but had never really learned about opera.
This book provides a great sweep of the past 400 years. Interesting overview of the evolution of opera and interesting discussion of major titles. I actually downloaded a number to listen to whilst I was reading the book which made it really enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anders Anderssen on 2 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this narrative the opera history is seen as a cultural continuum rather than a string of "periods" like Barouque, Classical, Early Romantic, etc.. . That kind of analysis certainly has given me new understanding of an art form which has fascinated me the last 65 years.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard G. S. Simon on 18 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is rare for a book by two people to be so very well written, and even rarer when they are both academics. Totally free of jargon; consistently stimuating making me long to see operas I have missed or avoided, and to see again old favourites.
Asne it is wondderfully witty. A great treat with which to to start the new year.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a highly readable overview of the development of opera for anybody who has been to and enjoyed an opera or many operas. Gives a vital chronology, combined with social context and an in depth analysis of key operas, without requiring specialised technical knowledge.

Would highly recommend.
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