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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The expected Grove quality and at a very competitive price., 4 Sep 2001
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A professional's view is as essential to one's understanding of the history and meaning behind the music/staging of opera as in any other academic subject. The Grove guide is in effect a cut-down version of the 4 volume Grove dictionary. It contains all the material that the majority of people would most frequently consult in the aforementioned work, while leaving out content that only the most committed afficionado would demand and actually use. The result is one is left with a far more user-friendly reference tool and at a fraction of the cost. Each entry is concisely written, and includes an history of the production, the original cast and detailed plot synopsis. Reading time is around 15-20 minutes per opera. This proves ideal if one wants to quickly brush-up on a plot before going to see a perfomance or become readily acquainted with a new opera when deciding whether to purchase a new recording. The range of operas covered is impressive yet this does not lead to a compromising on the detail supplied of each. It is certainly superior to most other guides of a similar nature/price. For myself the hard-back cover was also an attraction.
My one major criticism was the lack of a time-line/chronology of works in one place. This may seem a rather small detail, indeed most people would find the alphabetical ordering of the book more accessible. However, when one wishes to see where an individual work fits in to an individual composer's overall list of works (or into a particular musical period) this can only be done through lengthy cross-referencing. Another welcome addition would have been a recommended recording for each opera - especially for some of the lesser known works that are often not readily available. For these to be my real reservations with the book, however, tells you about it's strength in other areas. Indeed, if all this was included in the guide it would be very difficult for one to justify the purchasing of the 4 volume dictionary.
Overall, congratulations to Grove for making their opera material available to greater numbers by offering a very affordable alternative to those who were loathe to purchase the full dictionary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty successful, 29 Feb 2008
This review is from: The Grove Book of Operas (Hardcover)
The book distinguishes itself with the unusual inclusion of rare works (eg I DUE FOSCARI), which almost all other guides of the same size totally ignore: it isn't - as the previous reviewer claims - 'leaving out content [ie lesser-known works] that only the most committed afficionado [sic] would demand and actually use'. I just wish that the editorial board got rid of the indices: the 60 pages wasted on merely role names and excerpts could have covered many other unfamiliar operas (eg DIE AEGYPTISCHE HELENA). One slightly bothersome inconsistency is that (for some strange reason) only particular roles are mentioned in connection with their famous interpreters: eg while there are long lists of well-known performers of Parsifal, Brunnhilde, and Wotan, we're not told which singers made parts like Leonora (IL TROVATORE), Don Giovanni, and Falstaff their own. Another inconsistency is that the Introduction focuses only on contemporary production: what about the pre-modern periods? The absence of a discography isn't a disadvantage: like the indices, it is as unnecessary as the missing chronology. But the cover is depressing, so are the accompanying pictures taken from 'updated' productions. Though this is a welcome addition to any opera library, I can't part with KOBBE'S COMPLETE OPERA BOOK (Harewood and Lascelles), THE VIKING OPERA GUIDE (Holden, Kenyon, and Walsh), THE PAN BOOK OF OPERA (Jacobs and Sadie), OPERA GUIDE (Westerman), 50 FAVORITE OPERAS (England), 100 GREAT OPERAS AND THEIR STORIES (Simon), as well as THE OPERA COMPANION and THE COMPANION TO 20th-CENTURY OPERA (Martin).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Grove Book of Operas, 4 Feb 2014
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Tells you all you want to know about nearly all the operas you are likely to see. A book which should be on every opera lovers bookcase and adds that other dimension to enjoyment of your visits to the opera whether at the theatre or the cinema, and, of course, your dvds...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Returned, 20 Dec 2013
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Ms. P. Evans (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grove Book of Operas (Hardcover)
This is a fantastic book. Lent my first copy to a friend who never returned it. Now I have it again. Great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value and very informative., 4 May 2013
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Mr. William M. Walker (midlands UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grove Book of Operas (Hardcover)
An inexpensive guide to all the major works with a full synopsis of the stories that I wanted. Very pleased anid it will give me many hours of pleasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet, just what I wanted as a reference., 20 Feb 2013
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I’m not a great opera fan; opera for me tends to stop at Mozart. However, I did want a publication that gave me a concise synopsis of plot and story line that covered, not just the most popular pieces, but the less well known works as well. This does it and enables me to select operas that might appeal to me before going out and buying them. It’s also quite good for dipping into at random . Very good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Grove Book of Operas, 5 Feb 2013
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J. Puzey (UK) - See all my reviews
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i was very pleased with this purchase. It only cost £2.42 plus postage and to my surprise it was new. I believe it is a very well-known book of reference and I can see why it is.
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The Grove Book of Operas
The Grove Book of Operas by the late Stanley Sadie (Hardcover - 30 Nov 2006)
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