Eyewitness Companions: Opera, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


"Packed into every page of this book is the excitement of discovery, knowledge, taste and visual beauty.

It all gives the reader the illusion of being at an actual performance." Placido Domingo "Opera is a beautiful guide for opera enthusiasts as well as the perfect welcome for converts to this ancient rite.

It offers today's and tomorrow's audiences a delightful "navigation system" along an avenue that leads from Monteverdi to Bob Wilson." Stephane Lissner, Director of the Teatro alla ScalaEssential reading - whether you are a seasoned opera goer looking for a quick brush-up before a performance, or new to the genre and wanting to know more.From Baroque to Italian, from Vivaldi to Debussy explore 400 years of music drama from late-Renaissance Italy to works from contemporary names including Philip Glass and Thomas Ades.

Discover hundreds of classic and modern opera interpretations, learn about the lives of operatic masters, from Monteverdi to Adams plus, read act-by-act synopses of more than 160 operas from Madama Butterfly and Tosca to Candide and The Maid of Pskov which signpost the highlights of each opera and help you follow the story-line and identify characters.

Eyewitness Companions Opera - music for your ears and eyes.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Opera
  • ISBN: 9781405312790

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This book surveys the plots of, and the biographical history of the composers behind, around 160 different operas. Beginning with an introduction to the art form, it is then bookended with sections surveying opera chronologically (an early chapter called "Monteverdi to Mozart" and a final chapter on "Modern Opera") and, in between, organised into chapters based on the nationality of the composers, with Italian, Germanic, French, Russian, and Czech opera each receiving attention in turn. The plot summaries are brief enough to fit into a page or two, and sidebars name some of the most famous arias and recitatives, pointing out where in the course of the plot they occur and how many individuals sing them. The most captivating part of the book is the photography, which invites readers into scenes from each of the operas as performed in the many gorgeous opera houses worldwide and, simultaneously, introduces some of the greatest stars of the genre. My only complaint about the book was that there is not even a nod to Gilbert and Sullivan, although ostensibly the spoken dialogue of their operettas places them more in the vein of musical theatre rather than pure opera (surely they are not excluded for their frivolity, as their work is no more ridiculous than something like "Love for Three Oranges"). Aside from that, this book is an excellent primer for both those new to opera and seasoned theatre-goers who may want a historical reference to supplement their appreciation of an evening's entertainment.

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