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Our books on opera provide the perfect introduction to the musical style and will help you separate a cadenza from an arias.

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Opera books

  • Letters and Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier

    Christopher Fifield

    Product Code: BFCUX
    Paperback
    In 1953, at the age of 41, Kathleen Ferrier, England's greatest lyric contralto, lost her courageous battle with breast cancer. Her huge appeal to a wide audience - in concerts, on records, on the radio and in the opera house - has ensured her name endures to this day, despite a career which lasted barely ten years. In just half that time, this former telephone exchange operator was singing on stage at Covent Garden, before royalty at private parties, and at New York's Carnegie Hall. This collection of letters and twelve years of her personal diaries was first published by Boydell Press in 2003. Here, an enlarged paperback edition contains a new chapter revealing her growing importance to the BBC, an additional 90 letters, together with much revised material and a selection of moving tributes. Published to mark the centenary of her birth in 1912, the book, of more than 400 letters, provides a vivid picture of a life which illuminated the war and post-war years of austerity and hardship. Kathleen Ferrier was surely fun to know. Her personality was a mix of extreme modesty and self-determined ambition, topped with a mischievously blunt sense of earthy Lancastrian humour. She is known for her glorious voice, but through the pages of these fascinating letters and diaries we get to meet the real person. DR CHRISTOPHER FIFIELD is a conductor, music historian, lecturer and broadcaster. He is the biographer of Max Bruch (Boydell Press 2005) and conductor Hans Richter, and the author of a history of the music agents Ibbs & Tillett.
    • £14.29
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  • Giacomo Puccini and His World

    Emanuele Senici

    Product Code: AZFVS
    Paperback
    Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) is the world's most frequently performed operatic composer, yet he is only beginning to receive serious scholarly attention. In Giacomo Puccini and His World, an international roster of music specialists, several writing on Puccini for the first time, offers a variety of new critical perspectives on the composer and his works. Containing discussions of all of Puccini's operas from Manon Lescaut (1893) to Turandot (1926), this volume aims to move beyond cliches of the composer as a Romantic epigone and to resituate him at the heart of early twentieth-century musical modernity. This collection's essays explore Puccini's engagement with spoken theater and operetta, and with new technologies like photography and cinema. Other essays consider the philosophical problems raised by "realist" opera, discuss the composer's place in a variety of cosmopolitan formations, and reevaluate Puccini's orientalism and his complex interactions with the Italian fascist state. A rich array of primary source material, including previously unpublished letters and documents, provides vital information on Puccini's interactions with singers, conductors, and stage directors, and on the early reception of the verismo movement. Excerpts from Fausto Torrefranca's notorious Giacomo Puccini and International Opera, perhaps the most vicious diatribe ever directed against the composer, appear here in English for the first time. The contributors are Micaela Baranello, Leon Botstein, Alessandra Campana, Delia Casadei, Ben Earle, Elaine Fitz Gibbon, Walter Frisch, Michele Girardi, Arthur Groos, Steven Huebner, Ellen Lockhart, Christopher Morris, Arman Schwartz, Emanuele Senici, and Alexandra Wilson.
  • A History of Opera

    Roger Parker

    Product Code: AOMRP
    Paperback
    Abbate and Parker's A History of Opera is the first full new history of opera in sixty years - now in paperback in an updated second edition. "The best single volume ever written on the subject." (The Times Literary Supplement). Why has opera transfixed and fascinated audiences for centuries? Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker answer this question in their scrupulous and provocative retelling of the history of opera, examining its development, the means by which it communicates, and its societal role. In a new revision with an expanded examination of opera as an institution in the twenty-first century this book explores the tensions that have sustained opera over 400 years: between words and music, character and singer, inattention and absorption. Abbate and Parker argue that, though the genre's most popular and enduring works were almost all written in a distant European past, opera continues to transform the viewer with its enduring power.
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  • The Faber Pocket Guide to Opera

    Rupert Christiansen

    Product Code: AJRDL
    Paperback
    This new edition of leading opera critic Rupert Christiansen's perennially popular Pocket Guide has between extensively revised, and incorporates many more operas from all periods, including recent works by Philip Glass, Mark Anthony Turnage, Thomas Ades and George Benjamin. Whether you are a first-timer at La Boheme or a seasoned Wagnerian, every opera-goer can benefit from a little background information, and this book aims to provide just that. Accessible and easy-to-use, it contains entries for over a hundred works, both familiar and unfamiliar.
    • £8.29
    • RRP £9.99
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  • Opera

    Alexandra Wilson

    Product Code: AHIJG
    Paperback
    Opera is often dismissed as outdated and excessive, and perceived to be characterised by excessive passions, sumptuous costumes, and ill-mannered divas. In reality, however, operas address the most fundamental and universal of human concerns - love, death, jealousy, greed, and power. Revealing the diverse reasons behind opera's lasting appeal, opera champion and expert Alexandra Wilson provides a lucid and engaging introduction to the agendas that have governed its composition, production and reception over the last four centuries, and explains the reasons behind its enduring appeal.
    • £7.99
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  • A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Benjamin Britten

    Product Code: ABNEN
    Paperback
    A Midsummer Night's Dream was Benjamin Britten's seventh major opera and had its premiere in 1960. Britten and his partner Peter Pears adapted Shakespeare's much-loved comedy, using (with the exception of only one line) Shakespeare's own text, as well as cutting and simplifying the play. This newly commissioned opera guide has an essay which explores the unique process of the opera's composition, including passages of recently published material from Britten's own correspondence. Other essays examine the magical sound world that Britten created for this work, as well as documenting Britten's own response to productions of the opera during his lifetime. A further essay assesses the place of the work in relation to the rest of Britten's oeuvre.
    • £9.60
    • RRP £12.00
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