The Story of Opera (Abradale Books)

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9780810982222: The Story of Opera (Abradale Books)

This book celebrates the 400-year history of opera. With separate chapters devoted to the great national schools of opera-Italian, German, French, and Russian-it tells the stories of composers, librettists, impresarios, singers, conductors, and even audiences. Beautifully illustrated with historical images and a wealth of photographs from notable contemporary productions, this book offers both an introduction to the general reader and fresh insights for longtime buffs.

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Review:

Opera neophytes and experienced music theater fanatics alike should enjoy The Story of Opera, by Richard Somerset-Ward. This big, beautiful book is well written and lavishly illustrated with color and black-and-white photos and drawings that vividly evoke the visual elements of opera. Somerset-Ward's highly readable history of opera is incisive and remarkably complete. His detailed knowledge of the origins and evolution of the art form should answer the curiosity of some readers while whetting that of others--for the latter group, there's a suggested list for further reading at the back of the book.

The illustrations are varied; the design for the entrance of the first "Queen of the Night" is here, along with portraits of composers and a host of production photos, some of them more than a century old. There's a revealing photo of the Three Tenors and a selection of Caruso's self-caricatures. Somerset-Ward does not exclude an opera from consideration simply because it was an atrocity, so there are pictures here from both classic productions and not a few, well, flops. The book's chronological arrangement, from the debut of "Il Dramma per Musica" in the late 16th century to late-20th-century productions (including a chapter on popular musical theater), exposes readers to opera's development over its 400-year history.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's foreword to the book is an added treat for her fans. In it, she sums up the experience of The Story of Opera: "Turning the pages of this book, you will read about many remarkable people, and many weird and wonderful happenings, but you will also discover, I think, why opera is, and always has been, such an exciting phenomenon. Its story is, in its own right, a wonderful and enthralling drama."

About the Author:

Richard Somerset-Ward is a former head of music and arts for BBC Television. He is currently an independent writer and television producer in New York.

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Richard Somerset-Ward
Published by Harry N. Abrams (2001)
ISBN 10: 0810982226 ISBN 13: 9780810982222
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Book Description Harry N. Abrams, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110810982226

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