Opera has been around ever since the late 16th century, and it is
still going strong in the sense that operas are performed around
the world at present, and known by infinitely more persons than
just those who attend performances. On the other hand, it has
enjoyed periods in the past when more operas were produced to
greater acclaim. Those periods inevitably have pride of place in
this Historical Dictionary of Opera, as do exceptional singers, and
others who combine to fashion the opera, whether or not they appear
on stage. But this volume looks even further afield, considering
the cities which were and still are opera centers, literary works
which were turned into librettos, and types of pieces and genres.
While some of the former can be found on the web or in other
sources, most of the latter cannot and it is impossible to have the
whole picture without them.
Indeed, this book has an amazingly broad scope. The dictionary
section, with about 340 entries, covers the topics mentioned above
but obviously focuses most on composers, not just the likes of
Mozart, Verdi and Wagner, but others who are scarcely remembered
but made notable contributions. Of course, there are the divas, but
others singers as well, and some of the most familiar operas, Don
Giovanni, Tosca and more. Technical terms also abound, and
reference to different genres, from antimasque to zarzuela. Since
opera has been around so long, the chronology is rather lengthy,
since it has a lot of ground to cover, and the introduction sets
the scene for the rest. This book should not be an end but rather a
beginning, so it has a substantial bibliography for readers seeking
more specific or specialized works. It is an excellent access point
for readers interested in opera.
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