Opera: A History in Documents / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $19.33
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 61%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (8) from $19.33   
  • New (2) from $48.51   
  • Used (6) from $19.33   


Richly textured, extravagantly colorful, and filled with larger-than-life characters, the history of opera is as mesmerizing and commanding as opera itself. And no art form benefits more from being seen from the inside out--through eye-witness accounts of singers, composers, librettists, critics, historians, patrons, satirists, impresarios, designers, performers, and others--than opera.

Now, in Opera: A History in Documents, Piero Weiss presents a sweeping, vivid, and carefully researched tour of operatic history. The chronologically organized primary sources include 115 passages--private letters, portions of libretti, literary criticism, satire, and poetry--from opera's late Renaissance infancy through modern times. This first-hand testimony allows readers to experience the history of opera as eyewitnesses, offering an immediacy and validity unmatched by standard histories. Opera lovers will be transported to a Medici wedding in sixteenth century Florence, to the Haymarket Theatre for a performance of Handel's Rinaldo, to Mozart at work on Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, and to Bertoldt Brecht's writing desk, among many other landmarks in opera's history. Weiss expertly guides readers, providing highly accessible introductions to each section that both contextualize the excerpts and position them within the broader historical narrative. In addition, Weiss offers original translations of more than half of the material in the book, many of them appearing in English for the first time. Stage settings, costumes, portraits, contemporary playbills, and other illustrations enliven the text and help to recreate the feel of the era under discussion.

Perfect for opera aficionados, Opera: A History in Documents offers a uniquely exciting entree into the origins and development of one of our most enduring art forms.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Beginning with the Intermedio, which was performed at a Medici wedding in 1589, and ending with John Adams's 1987 Nixon in China, this book provides a novel view of dozens of operas over the centuries. The author, a noted scholar and authority on the history of opera who chairs the musicology department at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory, illuminates the history of opera through documents, each presented in historical context. His selection of documents includes letters, diary accounts, critical notices, playbills, and libretto excerpts that highlight fascinating aspects of the works and their performances, as well as the era in which they originated. We learn, for example, what Stendhal thought of Rossini's Barber of Seville, as well as Tchaikovsky's own thoughts on Eugene Onegin and Mozart's first ideas about his Marriage of Figaro. Opera lovers will be delighted at this new and excellent source of information and insight. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Timothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"The richness of this volume can in part be indicated by numbers alone. Fifty-two items are tallied on the contents page, and three 'interludes' enlarge the count...Discerning members of both groups should indeed be eager to put themselves in the hands of so expert and experienced a scholar, one whose work is at once stylish and thorough." --Christopher Hatch, Opera Quarterly

"Weiss's extraordinary selection of documents includes some wonderful illustrations in addition to substantial excerpts from letters, prefaces, pamphlets, and even librettos, many in first or new translations by Weiss himself....This volume is a priceless addition to the literature, and the pages of my copy are already dog-eared from constant use." --Helen M. Greenwald, Music and Letters

"Opera lovers will be delighted at this new and excellent source of information and insight.... Provides a novel view of dozens of operas over the centuries. The author, a noted scholar and authority on the history of opera illuminates the history of opera through documents."--Library Journal

"One of the many delights of this collection is its often less-than-canonic choice of extracts. Piero Weiss has, in short, provided us with an excellent and sometimes surprising collection of operatic documents, all sensitively introduced and expertly translated." --Roger Parker, Professor of Music, Cambridge University

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195116380
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/21/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,107,121
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Piero Weiss is Chair of the Musicology Department at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. The Medici Wedding Festivities of 1589 (de' Rossi)
2. Pietro Bardi on the Birth of Opera
3. L'Euridice, the Second Opera (Buonarroti, Rinuccini, Peri, Caccini)
4. Cavalieri's Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo (Guidotti, Cavalieri)
5. Monteverdi Criticizes a Libretto
6. Sant'Alessio at the Barberini Palace, Rome (Rospigliosi, Bouchard)
7. Opera Comes to Venice and Goes Public (Ivanovich)
8. Lully is Granted a Monopoly on Opera in French (Colbert, Lully)
9. The Grand Siècle Absorbs the Tragédie en musique (Perrault, La Fontaine, Boileau)
10. Saint-Évremond's Views on Opera
11. The First English Operas (Dryden)
12. Handel's Rinaldo at the Haymarket Theatre (Hill, G. Rossi, Addison, Steele)
13. Pier Jacopo Martello on Opera (1715)
14. The Président de Bosses in Italy (1739)
15. Metastasio on Setting Dramatic Recitative to Music
16. From Rousseau's Confessions
17. The War of the Buffoons (d'Holbach)
Interlude: A Traveling Company (G. Gozzi)
18. Operatic Reform in Vienna: Gluck and Calzabigi
19. Gluck in Paris (Meister)
20. Mozart at Work on Die Entführung aus dem Serail
21. Grétry's Richard Coeur-de-Lion (Meister, Grétry)
22. The Making of Le nozze di Figaro (L. and W.A. Mozart, Da Ponte)
23. Kierkegaard's Don Giovanni
24. Fidelio in 1806 (Röckel)
25. Berlioz's Estimate of Spontini
26. E. T. A. Hoffman on "Music Drama That Springs from the Heart"
27. The First Performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia (Righetti-Giorgi)
28. Der Freischütz: A German Triumph (M. M. von Weber)
29. Parisian Grand Opera: Auber's La Muette de Portici as Seen by Wagner
Interlude: Madame Pasta (Hunt)
30. Verdi's Own Story of How Nabucco Was Composed
31. Verdi's Operatic Style Analyzed by a Contemporary (Basevi)
32. Wagner on the Evolution of his Style
33. Wagner's Theory of Drama
34. Divergent Reactions to Boris Godunov (Laroche, Stasov)
35. Tchaikovsky on Eugene Onegin
36. Nietzsche vs. Wagner
37. Verdi's Otello (Boito, Verdi, Morelli)
Interlude: Verdi and Wagner in Vienna (J. Sulzer)
38. Verismo (Verga)
39. Four Men at Work on La bohème (Illica, Puccini, Ricordi, Giacosa)
40. Pelléas et Mélisande (Mauclair, journalist, Debussy)
41. Strauss and Hofmannsthal Work on Der Rosenkavalier
42. Duke Bluebeard's Castle (Ballász)
43. Busoni and the Reinstatement of Disbelief
44. In Defense of Kát'a Kabanová (Stuart)
45. Alban Berg on Wozzeck
46. Brecht on "Epic Opera"
47. Shostakovich and the Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Debacle (Shostakovich, Pravda)
Interlude: An Italian Claque (Montale)
48. Peter Grimes in Postwar London (Edm. Wilson)
49. Stravinsky, Auden, and The Rake's Progress
50. A First Reaction to Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (Mila)
51. Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass (Page)
52. John Adams on Nixon in China

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)