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The Opera Companion
ISBN 0719541107 / 9780719541100 / 0-7195-4110-7
Publisher John Murray Publishers Ltd
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A guide to 47 operas from the 18th and 19th centuries, this text provides a synopsis for each opera with an introduction singling out the particular strengths and flaws of the piece, its antecedents, innovations, and controversial intepretations of it. The text does not assume the ability to read music. Instead, it emphasizes key words that can be heard and understood in performance. The aim of this is to clue the reader into the action. At the end of each act, these words are listed in the original language, in phonetic transliteration, and translation. Timings are given for numbers, scenes and Acts.;The early part of the book includes chapters on the overture, melody, aria and recitative, the human voice, the opera orchestra, tuning, the claque, castrati, ballet in opera, and various aspects of opera history. [via]