Books about opera
This page contains reviews of books about opera. Opera offers a great way of getting into classical music. The step that needs to be taken is not too big, given the visual component and the narrative. Traditional instrumental concert music, on the contrary, might take a longer time for most people to get into.
I can honestly say that opera was the first classical genre that really caught my attention, especially the romantic operas written by composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini during the mid- to late 1800s and the early 1900s. However, opera has a longer history. The first real opera is said to be Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, which premiered in 1607, just at the beginning of what we call the Baroque Period. The genre was revived and greatly developed during Mozart’s era (late 18th century), and even further half a century later by pioneers such as Richard Wagner.
Feel free to use the provided links to Amazon (US or UK) if you would like to purchase any of the books below.
List of books
Currently, there are two books in this section.
Opera: Eyewitness Companions
A personal favorite of mine is the introduction to opera offered by Eyewitness Companions, a rather cheap but very rich book on the subject. It starts off with an introduction of about 35 pages, after which the important early era between Monteverdi and Mozart is examined. Following this area, the book adjusts its approach to a geographical one, splitting into chapters such as “Italian Opera”, “Germanic Opera”, “French Opera” and even “Czech Opera”. This chapter division makes perfect sense, given that opera spread and took different directions in France, Italy and Germany shortly after the death of Mozart (a bit later in Russia and Czech Republic).
The language Eyewitness Companions’ opera guide is very accessible and does not require any advanced musical vocabulary. It suits both beginners and passionate enthusiasts well, which becomes evident when looking at the book’s average rating on both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera
Fred Plotkin is one of the foremost American experts on opera, and he has also worked within the field since 1972 (doing just about everything but singing; such as management, production, coaching and design). The introduction to this work is written by renowned opera tenor Placido Domingo, famous for being one of The Three Tenors (along with Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras). Included in this books are, for instance, a brief history of opera, a guide to the relevant opera terms, and a listener’s guide to eleven different works within the genre.
Plotkin’s Opera 101 might be the most well received of all the books on opera. It holds an impressive 4,54 / 5 average score, if combing the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk ratings. Many reviewers point out that the book, despite being quite thorough when it comes to musical details, is accessible enough for beginners to enjoy it.
More books about opera will be reviewed in the near future.
Book review page: 17. Published August 20, 2012 as Books about opera.