Opera : A History in Documents

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This work collates over 100 primary-source documents for students of the history of opera. The varied selections - which include letters, excerpts of journals, bits of libretti, and contemporary criticism - provide eye-witness commentary on the world of opera from its late-Renaissance infancy through modern times. Each selection is introduced by an extensive headnote that both explains the document's context and positions it in the book's overall narrative.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 342 pages
  • 164.6 x 243.3 x 29.5mm | 675.86g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • illustrations, index
  • 0195116372
  • 9780195116373

Table of contents

The Medici Wedding Festivities of 1589; Pietro Bardi on the Birth of Opera; L'Euridice, The Second Opera; Cavalieri's "Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo"; Monteverdi Criticizes "a Libretto"; Sant'Alessio at the Barberini Palace, Rome; Opera Comes to Venice and Goes Public; Lully is Granted a Monopoly on Opera in French; "Le Grand Siecle" Absorbs "La Tragedie en Musique"; Saint-Evremond's View on Opera; The First English Operas; Handel's "Rinaldo" at the Haymarket Theatre; Pier Jacopo Martello on Opera; "The President de Brosses" in Italy; Metastasio on Setting Dramatic Recitative to Music; From Rousseau's "Confessions"; The War of the Buffoons; Interlude - A Travelling Company; Operatic Reform in Vienna - Gluck and Calzabigi; Gluck in Paris; Mozart at Work on "Die Entf hrung aus dem Serail"; Gretry's Richard "Couer-de-Lion"; The Making of "Le Nozze di Figaro"; Kierkegaard's "Don Giovanni"; "Fidelio in 1806"; Berlioz's "Estimate of Spontini"; E.T.A. Hoffman on "Music Drama that Springs from the Heart"; The First Performance of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia"; "Der Freischutz": A German Triumph; Parisian Grand Opera: Auber's "La Muette de Portici" as Seen by Wagner; Interlude - Madame Pasta; Verdi's Own Story of How "Nabucco" was Composed; Verdi's Operatic Style Analyzed by a Contemporary; Wagner on the Evolution of his Style; Wagner's Theory of Drama; Divergent Reactions to "Boris Godonov"; Tchaikovsky on "Eugene Onegin"; Nietzsch versus Wagner; Verdi's "Otello"; Interlude - Verdi and Wagner in Vienna; Verismo; Four Men at Work on "La Boheme"; "Pelleas et Melisande"; Strauss and Hofmannsthal at Work on "Der Rosenkavalier"; Duke Bluebeard's Castle; Busoni and the Reinstatement of Disbelief; In Defense of Kat'a Kabanova; Alban Berg on "Wozzeck"; Brecht on "Epic Opera"; Shostakovich and the "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" Debacle; Interlude - An Italian Claque; Peter Grimes in Post-War London; Stravinsky, Auden, and "The Rake's Progress"; A First Reaction to Poulenc's "Dialogues des Carmelites"; Messaiaen's Introductory Note to "Saint-Francois d'Assine"; John Adams on "Nixon in China".
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Review quote

... a most coherent, elegant, and perceptive survey of four centuries of operatic debate. This volume is a priceless addition to the literature, and the pages of my copy are already dog-eared from constant use. Music and Letters Opera: A History in Documents comes as treasure trove to the fan ... crisp, informative intros to each entry ... The extracts relating to theatres and performance are fascinating ... no true lover of opera can afford to be without this invaluable collection. Opera Now Weiss's book is a Jack Horner's pie full of plums, familiar and unfamiliar, many of them freshly and elegantly translated by Weiss himself ... a valuable and enjoyable book. Opera Weiss is head of the musicology department at John Hopkins, and the anthology that he has compiled makes up a history of opera that is learned, quirky, disjointed, spiced with the unexpected and the diversionary, and sometimes very funny; everything, in fact, that such a collection should be. Opera Excellent compilation ... a rich offering ... for students and intelligent opera lovers, the material on the operas selected will rapidly become indispensable. BBC Music Magazine
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About Piero Weiss

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

18 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 39% (7)
4 39% (7)
3 22% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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