The articles reprinted in this volume treat operas as opera and from some sort of critical angle; none of the articles uses methodology appropriate for another kind of musical work.
Additional criteria used in selecting the articles were that they should not have been reprinted widely before and that taken together they should cover an extended array of significant operas and critical questions about them.
Trends in Anglophone scholarship on post-1900 opera then determined the structure of the volume.
The anthologized articles are organized according to the place of origin of the opera discussed in each of them; the introduction, however, follows a thematic approach.
Themes considered in the introduction include questions of genre and reception; perspectives on librettos and librettists; words, lyricism, and roles of the orchestra; and modernism and other political contexts.