100 Great Operas And Their Stories: Act-By-Act Synopses

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An invaluable guide for both casual opera fans and afficionados, this volume contains act-by-act descriptions of operatic works ranging from the early seventeenth century masterworks of Monteverdi and Purcell to the modern classics of Menotti and Britten. Written in a lively anecdotal style, entries include character descriptions, historical background, and much more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 554 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Revised edition (May 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385054483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385054485
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

Customer Reviews

An opera lover’s bible

97 people found this helpful.
 on December 13, 2000
By David E. Levine
I bought this book a number of years ago and it has made attendance at both the Metropolitan Opera and NYC Opera that much more rewarding. I have read the few page outlines of each of the operas before attending and thus, at the performance, I follow the highlights of the given opera well. I remember when I once attended “Die Walkure,” I spent plenty of time preparing (this was back before they projected the libretto while the opera takes place) and this book’s coverage of the Ring cycle in general, and this opera, in particular, was a great starting point for me. I was well prepared to fully appreciate the performance. Even operas I have seen over and over merit a review before attending a performance and this book gives a great review. In addition to a good synopsis of the plot, the book gives interesting facts and histories of the operas covered. This book has been in print for a long time. There is a reason for this .. because it is truly a well written, valuable reference. Purcahsing this book is money well spent.

Very insightful, very helpful, and well written

55 people found this helpful.
 on March 14, 1999
A great collection of the 100 most beloved operas. Very helpful for any aspiring opera singer, such as myself, to dig up interesting information about the background of the opera, the plot, where and when the arias take place, and many interesting factoids about the origin of the librettos and the circumstances under which the composer chose to write the opera. An absolute must-have for an opera lover!!!

good book for every opera lover

 on March 8, 2017
By Nightstar
good book for every opera lover. Act by act to all most staged operas. very informative to read before going to opera

Opera. Plain, Simple and Easy to Understand

45 people found this helpful.
 on November 26, 1998
100 Great Operas and Their Stories greatest virtue is the number of things it doesn’t contain. Among the missing: a list of great preformances, a list of opera singer who have performed the rolls, the usually rating system, and of course the almost obligatory rating/list of available CDs. It contains exactly what its title says — the stories of the great operas. A list of the cast, a very short background history and the story of the opera act by act. The experienced opera goers can refresh themselves in a few minutes. The novice can find out what its all about in the same time. Also, you can slip the book into your pocket and take it along to the opera for a quick revue before the overture begins.

A rare and USEFUL guide

17 people found this helpful.
 on July 26, 2004
By T. G. Laufer
I took an intrest in Opera and wanted to discover more about it. To my dismay, when I read reviews in the papers, I found nearlly nothing of value because they never did the simple job of brifely explaining what the story was actual about. That’s why this book is great; it gives a brief summary of what the Opera is about act by act. Thus, this guide is a great tool to find a story that you like; however, one should still look into a local review of an Opera to see how the singers perform and the rendition is done; this book gives reviews in the general.

If you only buy one book on opera…

18 people found this helpful.
 on March 24, 2001
This is a great book for the opera novice or seasoned opera affectionado. Going to an upcoming opera? Reading the synopsis will refresh one’s memory or help the novice to better understand what is going on by acts. This is a well written book and a true bargain for the extensive information provided. I have purchased one for myself and another for a friend. A great gift book!

Packs a punch and gives you the information you need to the point; Get this book and enjoy your operas.

2 people found this helpful.
 on May 9, 2012
By Vikram Ramanathan
This is a neat book for newcomers and seasoned listeners alike. If you need a light paperback to take with you while you are travelling or use it as a reference material at home before or after viewing an opera on DVD/Blue ray, this is it.

One of my very best references — and there are other good ones — …

One person found this helpful.
 on November 16, 2014
By Roger W Berger
This book is EXCEPTIONAL. One of my very best references — and there are other good ones — for top-rated operas. First of all, it is not easy to pick 100 “Great” operas to build the list on. Secondly, his research is astounding. I learned things about operas I thought I knew pretty well. Third — his writing style is delightful. Fourth – he does a good job of briefly telling the story of how the opera came to be, and of how it has fared since premiere.

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