Baker & Taylor
Provides information on opera companies, festivals, conductors, terminology, characters, and more
From Aachen , a city launching much young talent, to Zwischenspiel , the usual German term for intermezzo, this new reference contains some 4,500 entries, including 750 on opera composers (with bibliographies), 600 on individual operas, 900 biographies of singers, and 350 entries of specialist terms, along with hundreds covering directors, conductors, scenes, writers, critics. A pleasing 782 pages, lots of detail, covering all aspects of the historical development and present standing of opera; appropriate for virtually all libraries. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
Blackwell North Amer
Opera was born in Italy towards the end of the 16th century, a new form of musical drama emerging out of the heady intellectual debates and experiments of the Camerata meeting at the house of Count Bardi in Florence. Four hundred years later, it is flourishing as never before: the debate and experimentation are now international, and the passionate engagement and critical responses of audiences of both live and televised performances, as well as the huge sales of sound and video recordings, are witness of a following unprecedented in its history.
This new dictionary has over 4,500 entries, covering all aspects of the historical development and present standing of opera. The authors define their subject broadly, paying some attention to different ancient and modern dramatic forms and taking account also of some of the dramatic music that preceded the traditional starting date of opera. There are more than 750 articles on individual composers, the most important combining both narrative and critical accounts, supplemented by worklists and bibliographies. Six hundred operatic works of all kinds are described, with synopses, full premiere details, and, where relevant, a note of the first performances in Britain and the United States. Principal operatic roles and well-known arias, choruses, scenes, and interludes are identified in separate entries. Important sources of ideas for operas are given in 85 entries on historical characters such as Hans Sachs, Caesar, and Sappho; on mythical or legendary ones such as Orpheus and Faust; and on writers and poets, as varied as Gogol, Milton, and Henry James, whose works have provided direct inspiration. Details of librettists and their most important sources are given in the opera entries, in composer worklists, and in many separate biographies. Nearly 900 singers are featured, from the earliest exponents of the stile rappresentativo to the new stars of the 1990s, with details of debut, style, reputation, roles created, and notable performances. There are biographies of the major conductors, producers, directors, designers, and entrepreneurs, complemented by separate histories of opera-houses, companies, institutions, and festivals around the world. The history of opera in individual countries, towns, and cities is sketched, from Aachen to Zurich by way of Australia, Azerbaijan, Uruguay, and the United States. There are also entries on a select number of philosophers, musicologists, and critics whose thought has influenced opera, and on miscellaneous topics as varied as censorship, children's opera, the Guerre des Bouffons, and television opera. The whole work is underpinned by 350 entries on specialist terms, ranging from brief definitions of stock-in-trade terminology to detailed accounts of different kinds of opera.
The Oxford Dictionary of Opera provides a huge amount of information and learning, packed conveniently in a single volume with helpful cross-references. It will be invaluable to all serious opera-goers, to those professionally concerned with opera, and to anyone needing reliable information on the subject.
The most comprehensive single-volume reference on opera provides opera synopses, first performance details, bibliographies of works about opera, entries on singers, discussions of technical terms, historical surveys, and much more.
Oxford University Press
La Scala, Luciano Pavarotti, Sweeney Todd, Maria Callas, Le Nozze di Figaro. These are just a few of the more than 1000 profiles on musical figures, 700 entries on famous works, and 200 important locales found in The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Covering everything from composers, individual operas, well-known arias, and principle characters, to technical terms, librettists, and opera-houses, this is the most comprehensive one-volume reference work on all aspects of opera.
Here opera buffs will have at their fingertips opera synopses and first performance details, bibliographies of works about opera, entries on singers (including their debuts and career highlights, with notes on voice type, style, and reputation), definitions and discussions of technical terms and operatic styles, and surveys of the history of opera worldwide. The editors include not only the basic information one would expect to find in an authoritative reference, but also many colorful asides that make browsing a pleasure. For example, we learn that Tristan und Isolde (Munich, 1865) was an outcome of Wagner's reading of Schopenhauer, how Verdi referred to the years between 1844 and 1859 (during which he was commissioned to write nineteen operas) as his "anni di galera" (his prison years), and how Toscanini resigned his directorship at La Scala over political tensions with the Fascists (he had previously refused to conduct the Fascist anthem at performances). In an entry on China, we learn that, unlike European opera, Chinese opera incorporates acrobatics (and often mime), and that before the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), there were over 300 regional styles of opera throughout the land. We even find an entry that lists the multitude of operas (over 300) that have been written based on Shakespeare's works. Other entries provide information on the different subdivisions of voice (from the soprano dramatique to the bariton-Martin), Russian Opera in Uzbekistan, and the definition of "Kravattentenor" (a tenor whose tone suggests he is being strangled by his neckwear).
The Oxford Dictionary of Opera comes at a time when opera has reached unprecedented levels of popularity, enjoying well-filled opera houses, public television broadcasts, and huge record sales. Fully cross-referenced and packed with information, this tremendous reference is a must for all opera lovers.