“Pogue is a wonderful teacher… He can teach anybody.”
— Gay Talese, bestselling author of Honor Thy Father
“Scott Speck is a great communicator of classical music…. Concert audiences and readers alike can’t help getting caught up in the joy of his subject.”
— David Styers, American Symphony Orchestra League
Opera is weird. Everybody wears makeup and sings all the time. Even when they’re singing your language, which is rare, you still can’t understand the words. Women play men, men play women, and 45-year-olds play teenagers. All the main characters seem to get killed off. And when somebody dies, he takes ten minutes to sing about it. Yet, for all its weirdness, an operatic experience is an experience in breathtaking beauty. When you hear a soprano float a soft high C, or a tenor singing a love song, or a full-throated chorus in the climax of a scene’s dramatic finale, you can’t help getting goosebumps.
Want to experience all that beauty for yourself, but don’t know where to begin? Opera For Dummies is an excellent place to start. Written by an acclaimed conductor and a musical director, this friendly guide tells you what you need to know to:
- Understand opera from the Baroque and Roman periods through today
- Interpret characters, orchestra, chorus, and other players
- Understand what’s happening, both on stage and off
- Choose the best seats
- Identify famous operas
- Build a great collection of opera recordings
- Locate opera sites and chat groups online
Whether you’re interested in attending a live opera, want to build a collection of recordings, or just want to be able to talk about opera intelligently, Opera For Dummies is for you. Among other things, you’ll explore:
- The words, the music, and the people who sing it
- The history of opera and the lives of the great composers
- Going to the opera — including tips for getting tickets, preparing for the opera, dressing for the opera, and more
- Musical and theatrical conventions used in opera
- In-depth synopses of the world’s most beloved operas
On the bonus CD you’ll find:
- More than 60 minutes of music compiled especially for the book
- A multimedia piece for PC or MAC
Wonder what it is about opera that can make a grown person cry like a baby? Find out in Opera For Dummies.
About the Author
David Pogue had a musical career on Broadway before he became one of the nation’s top technology gurus.
Scott Speck has conducted orchestras around the world and is coauthor of Ballet For Dummies. Together, they also wrote Classical Music For Dummies.
Table of Contents
PART I: Larger Than Life.
Chapter 1: Curtain Up!
Chapter 2: The Libretto's the Thing.
Chapter 3: The Score's the Other Thing.
Chapter 4: Opera Singers and Their Equipment.
PART II: The Story of Opera.
Chapter 5: A Little Greece, a Little Italy.
Chapter 6: The French Connection.
Chapter 7: English Channels.
Chapter 8: Opera with a German Accent.
Chapter 9: The Russian Evolution and the American Way.
PART III: A Night at the Opera.
Chapter 10: How to Go to an Opera.
Chapter 11: A Spin through Your Free CD.
Intermission: Backstage Tour.
PART IV: A Guide to the World's Most Beloved Operas.
Chapter 12: The 50 Big Kahunas.
Chapter 13: The Best of the Rest.
PART V: The Part of Tens.
Chapter 14: The Ten Most Common Misconceptions about Opera.
Chapter 15: The Ten Best Opera Terms for Cocktail Parties.
Chapter 16: Ten Great Opera Jokes.
Chapter 17: Ten Ways to Keep Discovering Opera Forever.
PART VI: Appendixes.
Appendix A: Getting Started.
Appendix B: Opera Timeline.
Appendix C: Glossary.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The up-and-coming soprano who takes a few years off her age . . . the Germanic hero who is famous for 'thinking' without his brain . . . the world class opera whose plot is simply impossible . . . These are part of the wacky world of opera, and 'Opera for Dummies' does a great job of de-mythologizing this arcane field. The authors patiently take us on a quick chronological tour of opera and briefly describe the plots of several dozen of the best-known operas. The bulk of your opera company's offerings will come out of this standard repertoire each year, so with a little study you can become an instant expert. The book includes a handy CD containing operatic snippets from Mozart to the present. The book's corresponding CD guide is timed to the second, and the authors cue you in to dramatic 'color' changes in the orchestra and singing, so be sure your CD player displays play times to the second. Buy this book and you'll go from operaphobe to opera buff really quick.
I love these books: they manage to stay just this side of patronizing. Opera is a subject about which, I know very little and crave more knowledge. This book can be, as I have just done, read cover to cover AND it then becomes a reference guide as one makes one's way into virgin territory. Pogue and Speck treat the subject with sufficient levity to debunk the pomposity which can surround Opera (fellow English readers will know all about that!), but at the same time, a love of their topic shines through. I learned a great deal from reading this book about the history, terms and plot lines of Opera. As previously admitted, I had a lot to learn (STILL DO!!!) but this book will stay close by whilst I explore the wonderful world of opera.
All of the Dummies books are excellent and this is no exception. I love how it delves into depth, while also relating anecdotes and cartoons to hold the reader's attention. The CD is also excellent.