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In this dense and thought-provoking philosophical study of a variety of operas ranging from Claudio Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea to Richard Strauss's Elektra , Starobinski (French literature, emeritus, Univ. of Geneva; Jean-Jacques Rosseau: Transparency and Obstruction ) weaves together classical allusions, basic musical analysis, and societal context to support his exploration of the enchantress as persona. The book also treats universal subjects such as power, wisdom, pride, and revenge within opera, with extensive references to contemporaneous and historical sources. While Starobinski does discuss various women who fit his criteria, such as Alcina and Manon in their respective eponymous works, nearly half the book is devoted to five Mozart operas; few of Mozart's characters fall into the seductress category, and Starobinski's text in these chapters is almost devoid of references to his major thesis, which contributes to diluting his premise and making the title misleading. Nonetheless, if readers can forgive these lapses and persevere, they will be rewarded with new and intriguing takes on a well-researched topic. Recommended for academic libraries and music collections supporting scholarly pursuits.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OHCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.