A Night at the Opera: An Irreverent Guide to the Plots, the Singers, the Composers, the Recordings (Modern Library Series)

Overview

With an encyclopedic knowledge of opera and a delightful dash of irreverence, Sir Denis Forman throws open the world of opera--its structure, composers, conductors, and artists--in this hugely informative guide. A Night at the Opera dissects the eighty-three most popular operas recorded on compact disc, from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur to Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. For each opera, Sir Denis details the plot and cast of characters, awarding stars to parts that are "worth looking out for," "really good," or, ...
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A Night at the Opera: An Irreverent Guide to The Plots, The Singers, The Composers, The Recordings

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Overview

With an encyclopedic knowledge of opera and a delightful dash of irreverence, Sir Denis Forman throws open the world of opera--its structure, composers, conductors, and artists--in this hugely informative guide. A Night at the Opera dissects the eighty-three most popular operas recorded on compact disc, from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur to Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. For each opera, Sir Denis details the plot and cast of characters, awarding stars to parts that are "worth looking out for," "really good," or, occasionally, "stunning." He goes on to tell the history of each opera and its early reception. Finally, each work is graded from alpha to gamma (although the Ring cycle gets an "X"), and Sir Denis has no qualms about voicing his opinion: the first act of Fidelio is "a bit of a mess," while the last scene of  Don Giovanni "towers above the comic finales of Figaro and Così and whether or not [it] is Mozart's greatest opera, it is certainly his most powerful finale."
The guide also presents brief biographies of the great composers, conductors, and singers. A glossary of musical terms is included, as well as Operatica, or the essential elements of opera, from the proper place and style of the audience's applause (and boos) to the use of surtitles.
A Night at the Opera is for connoisseurs and neophytes alike. It will entertain and inform, delight and (perhaps) infuriate, providing a subject for lively debate and ready reference for years to come.
        

This slightly irreverent guide to opera summarizes the plots of 17 of the world's great operas, including Aida, La Boheme, and Carmen, and describes their characters, artists, and composers.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
An encyclopedic handbook dissecting the 83 most popular operas recorded on CD, from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur to Mozart's Die Zauberflote. For each opera, Sir Denis details the plot and characters in a refreshingly impudent fashion. He also describes the historical background and critical reception of each opera, defines terms, and provides biographies of composers, conductors, and artists. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375751769
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Series: Modern Library Paperbacks Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 976
  • Sales rank: 211,900
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Sir Denis Forman was for nine years the deputy chairman of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London. He was a founding member of the Granada television franchise in the United Kingdom and became its chairman and chief executive, responsible for its acclaimed drama program, which included The Jewel in the Crown. Sir Denis lives near London.
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2010

    I love this book

    I like to do a bit of homework before attending an opera. I like to familiarize or refamiliarize myself with the story line and other interesting background information on the composer, premier, etc. To do this I use online resources and resource books such as Simon's "100 Great Operas and their Stories". Forman's book is a delightful addition to these resources. It's amusing in addition to being enlightening. It's different in that he avoids technical parlance in favor of everyday language. It makes opera fun and available to the common man. I love this book. I have gifted it on several occasions to my opera going friends. They love this book too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    The best book about opera!!

    I got the book several years ago. I think it's the best one you can get out there. It's concise and very funny but above all VERY informative about major operas. I use it often to figure out what the composer's intentions were wich gives me in-depth point of view about particular aria, duet etc. I am eagerly waiting for the second volume because a lot operas like I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Die Agyptische Helena, Anna Bolena to name a few were not added. So please Mr. Forman, we need more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2006

    My First Choice for Opera Books

    I have a couple of opera guides, but this is the first one I read and the one I really pay attention to. It is great for getting familiar with a new CD, and a must read before attending any performance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2005

    An Entertaining, Informative Introduction to Opera

    I was first introduced to this fascinating, informative, and funny book while I was singing in the Chorus for Lucia di Lammermoor. During one rehearsal I noticed that both the Chorus Master and the Maestro were consulting from it and enjoying a bit of a laugh as they read. I went out and picked up a copy and have used it extensively for over five years. It is definitely a irreverent look at the opera, the author is not afraid to tell you that a certain opera stinks, or that the story is too bizarre even for opera. He does give you, however, a clear synopsis of the plot; a musical overview of what to listen for; a historical overview of how the opera was received by the original audience, or any gossipy tidbits about the composer; and finally, his own overall rating of the opera. This book works well for those new to opera or even those who like opera, but wish to know more. Written in a quick, sometimes toung in cheek style, this book still manages to be informative as well as entertaining. In the author¿s words, this book is ¿an alpha.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2000

    If you've never read an opera book...

    ...but have seen an opera or two, or heard some of the great arias -- this is the book for you. It's funny, engaging and gives you all the plots, the history the musical highlights and even the gossip. It made me want to go to several of the operas I read about. A great book to browse through.

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    Posted January 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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