The Oxford History of Opera

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In its lavish amalgam of theatrical and musical resources, its flamboyant charm, its extravagant appeal to the heart and the mind, and its seemingly inexhaustible power to move and astonish us, opera is clearly the most spectacular of all the arts. Now, eleven leading authorities chronicle the full sweep of this stunning musical genre, ranging from the earliest known works to such recent experimental efforts as Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach.
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Overview


In its lavish amalgam of theatrical and musical resources, its flamboyant charm, its extravagant appeal to the heart and the mind, and its seemingly inexhaustible power to move and astonish us, opera is clearly the most spectacular of all the arts. Now, eleven leading authorities chronicle the full sweep of this stunning musical genre, ranging from the earliest known works to such recent experimental efforts as Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach.
The contributors--including such noted opera critics as William Ashbrook, Paul Griffiths, and Barry Millington--provide superb coverage of all the major periods. We read of the remarkable success of opera in republican Venice, where by 1650 some fifty operas had been performed, including masterworks by Monteverdi, the giant of the era. We learn of opera seria--which within the world of eighteenth-century Italian opera was the summit of prestige--and opera buffa, most noted today for three major works by Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi Fan Tutti. We explore the peak of opera's popularity in nineteenth-century France, Italy, and Germany, with astute commentary on such major composers as Berlioz, Bizet, Rossini, Donizetti, and especially Wagner and Verdi. And we examine the remarkably diverse works of our own century, from Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier and Alban Berg's Wozzeck to Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice and John Adams's Nixon in China. Throughout, the contributors illuminate how opera often reflects the cultural concerns of the age, how it is part of the social fabric, and in three fascinating sections on staging, singers, and the social climate, they give us a look behind the scenes as well as a feel for what opera was like in the past. We discover, for instance, that before the late nineteenth century, patrons were not expected to arrive on time, sit still, keep quiet, concentrate on the stage action, or stay to the end (Wagner put an end to this practice by darkening the theatre).
Nowhere does the rich panoply of opera history unfold more grandly than in this volume. Authoritative, vivid, and beautifully written, it will be treasured by everyone who loves opera.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A very readable historical overview....The illustrations are very useful and informative."--Benjamin Korstved, Ball State University

"General readers and scholars will take delight in this sturdily bound, excellently designed, reasonably priced publication. Highly recommended, it belongs in every collection."--Choice

From Barnes & Noble
Throughout its long and illustrious history, opera has been used as a demonstration of economic power and cultural elitism, and as an elaborate social and political display. The authoritative books traces opera from its beginnings in Florence 400 years ago to opera today, placing it in the broader arena of culture and politics. Highlights the "long nineteenth century," during which many of the famous operas were written and first performed; the famous opera singers; staging; opera and its relation to other arts; and more. Black-and-white photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192840288
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/14/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editor:
Roger Parker is Lecturer in Music at Oxford University and Fellow of St. Hugh's College. Until recently an Associate Professor of Music at Cornell University, he has published extensively on Verdi and on nineteenth-century Italian opera.

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Table of Contents

List of Plates
Foreword
1 The Seventeenth Century 1
2 The Eighteenth Century: Serious Opera 32
3 The Eighteenth Century: Comic Opera 57
4 The Nineteenth Century: France 83
5 The Nineteenth Century: Italy 114
6 The Nineteenth Century: Germany 138
7 Russian, Czech, Polish, and Hungarian Opera to 1900 157
8 The Twentieth Century: To 1945 186
9 The Twentieth Century: 1945 to the Present Day 212
10 The Staging of Opera 235
11 Opera Singers 286
12 Opera as a Social Occasion 304
Further Reading 322
Chronology 336
Notes on the Contributors 348
Index 350
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