9781858287492 / 1858287499

The Rough Guide to Opera (3rd Edition)


Publisher:Rough Guides



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About the book:

As an entry into the Rough Guide canon, Opera: The Rough Guide offers a slightly breezy approach to the art form, along with a touch of attitude and a tendency toward British idioms. Like its sibling Classical Music on CD: The Rough Guide, it gives brief biographies of composers, plot outlines of significant works, and recommendations for which recordings are best. Oddly, the book takes a number of strange stabs at politically incorrect figures of the past--comparing Wagner to Hitler because of their shared vegetarian eating habits--and makes some downright erroneous statements: Maria Callas was never a student of Rosa Ponselle at all, much less her "most famous student."

Most of the recordings recommended are fine, though there is a limit on how many compact discs are suggested for any given opera (the maximum seems to be three each), and the authors have a strong prejudice in favor of older recordings. These have the advantage of being generally cheaper and often offer great singing, but the sound is usually far superior on more recent releases, and accurate chorus work is a rarity on many vintage sets. Bearing that in mind, this is a useful volume for someone building an opera collection or learning more about the art form. It might be useful to consult this volume, along with other guides, before investing a lot of money in opera CDs. --Sarah Bryan Miller

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