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What is opera and how does it work? How has this dramatic form developed and what is its relevance in the modern world? Perfect for music students and opera-goers, this introductory guide addresses these questions and many more, exploring opera as a complete theatrical experience. Organised chronologically and avoiding technical musical terminology, the book clearly demonstrates how opera reflected and reacted to changes in the world around it. A special feature of the volume is the inclusion of illustrative tables throughout. These provide detailed, easy to follow analysis of arias, scenes and acts; visual guides to historical movements; and chronologies relating to genres and individual composers' works. Overall, the book fosters an understanding of opera as a living form as it encounters and uses material from an ever expanding repertoire in time, place and culture.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 168 tables
  • 113921571X
  • 9781139215718

Review quote

'Cannon's passion for the topic shines through - each chapter is peppered with little details that a more detached author may have thought unnecessary. Even a novice who has never seen a particular production will suddenly feel oddly familiar with it. Students of music and opera will find the uncluttered and jargon-less yet still erudite tone of this book invigorating, and are sure to be reaching for it as a first port of call. And there's certainly no room to doubt Cannon's authority - he created the first ever degree in opera studies. One for your reading lists, class.' Laura Sylvester, Muso 'I liked the way that a strong connection was established between historical events and contemporary cultural achievements, the shared themes and the close relationship between music, poetry, painting and theatre ... Also included are an extensive 12-page bibliography, a table of major opera, artistic and political developments from 1899 to 2008, and a glossary of key terms. Throughout the text there are illustrative tables, providing detailed easy to follow analysis of arias, scenes and acts, visual guides to historical movements, and chronologies relating to genres and individual composers' works ... As a work of reference and of study, its 400 pages provide a thorough grounding which the well-informed enthusiast will relish and be pleased to have on the shelf.' The Bookbag '... masterly ... a highly recommendable guide to the history of opera.' Classical Music 'I would certainly want to own a copy.' Opera
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Table of contents

Introduction; Part I: 1. Pre-operatic forms; 2. First operatic forms: Peri, Caccini, Monteverdi, Cavalli, Keiser; 3. Formalization; 4. Reform - the reintegration of elements; 5. Comedy and the 'real world'; 6. 'Authentic' performance; Part II: 7. Romanticism and romantic opera in Germany; 8. Opera in nineteenth-century Italy; 9. Grand Opera and the visual language of opera; 10. The Wagnerian revolution; 11. Nationalists: vernacular language and music; 12. The role of the singer; Part III: 13. The turn of the century and the crisis in opera; 14. First modernism: symbolist and expressionist opera; 15. The dramaturgy of opera: libretto - words and structure; 16. Narrative opera: realistic and non-realistic; 17. Radical narratives; 18. Directors and the direction of opera; Appendices: 1. Motifs from Der Ring; 2. The development of singing voices; 3. The development of lyric theatre alternatives to 'opera'; 4. Some major operas, artistic and political events of the twentieth century; Glossary of terms; Bibliography.
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