Grove Book of Operas

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First published in 1996 to great critical and popular acclaim, The Grove Book of Operas brings together synopses and descriptions of over 250 leading operas, complemented by more than one hundred illustrations and halftones. Each succinct yet insightful entry is written by a leading authority on the opera and includes a full synopsis of the plot, a cast list, a note on the singers in the original production, and information on the origins of the work and its literary and social background. Contributions conclude with a brief comment on the particular works place in operatic history. A glossary offers brief and accessible definitions of terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. And indices of role names and of arias and ensembles allow the reader to find operas containing their favorite aria or a well-known character. This second edition brings the book up to date with several recently composed operas and a fascinating introductory essay by David Levin on opera performance in the 21st century. Recent additions to the operatic repertory included for the first time in this edition include Nicholas Maw, Sophies Choice; Poul Ruders, A Handmaids Tale; John Adams, Death of Klinghoffer; and Mark Adamo, Little Women. Now offered in paperback for the first time, this is a book that should be on the shelf of every opera fan.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195387112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195387117
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.5 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds

Customer Reviews

Oh, really?!

48 people found this helpful.
 on June 29, 2007
By Henry Thoreau
The prior “customer reviewer” wrote a great review in MOST respects. HOWEVER, he stated the following:

Pretty successful

9 people found this helpful.
 on December 9, 2009
By Melomane (aka A.B.)
The book distinguishes itself with the unusual inclusion of rare works (eg I DUE FOSCARI), which almost all other guides of the same size totally ignore: it isn’t – as the previous reviewer claims – ‘leaving out content [ie lesser-known works] that only the most committed afficionado [sic] would demand and actually use’. I just wish that the editorial board got rid of the indices: the 60 pages wasted on merely role names and excerpts could have covered many other unfamiliar operas (eg DIE AEGYPTISCHE HELENA). One slightly bothersome inconsistency is that (for some strange reason) only particular roles are mentioned in connection with their famous interpreters: eg while there are long lists of well-known performers of Parsifal, Brunnhilde, and Wotan, we’re not told which singers made parts like Leonora (IL TROVATORE), Don Giovanni, and Falstaff their own. Another inconsistency is that the Introduction focuses only on contemporary production: what about the pre-modern periods? The absence of a discography isn’t a disadvantage: like the indices, it is as unnecessary as the missing chronology. But the cover is depressing, so are the accompanying pictures taken from ‘updated’ productions. Though this is a welcome addition to any opera library, I can’t part with KOBBE’S COMPLETE OPERA BOOK (Harewood and Lascelles), THE VIKING OPERA GUIDE (Holden, Kenyon, and Walsh), THE PAN BOOK OF OPERA (Jacobs and Sadie), OPERA GUIDE (Westerman), 50 FAVORITE OPERAS (England), 100 GREAT OPERAS AND THEIR STORIES (Simon), as well as THE OPERA COMPANION and THE COMPANION TO 20th-CENTURY OPERA (Martin).

Great Source for Warhorse and Contemporary Operas

One person found this helpful.
 on February 23, 2015
By Barbara J. Williams
Great go-to reference work to brush up on operas I regularly go to at Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit and the Met in HD Live at a local movie theater (shoutout to AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights, MI). The fact that it includes a fair number of 20th century contemporary operas makes it even more valuable. Very nice glossary and indices, too!

Handy gift for an Opera Lover

 on January 4, 2015
By Gary Payton
I bought this as a Christmas gift. Person thought it was a handy book to read before going to most operas. I can’t judge the book by how well it was written or how well informative it is, but based on the person who I gave it to says the book is useful to give enough information before going to a performance.

Five Stars

One person found this helpful.
 on April 16, 2016
By John Harley
A gift to an opera lover who loved it!

Better than expected,

 on August 22, 2013
By jorge
It is complete, very good analysis of the operas i searched. I bought another one to give as a gift to my son!

A great addition to my library

 on July 2, 2010
By trevor lloyd
A most informative read and well worth the money.As an oprea lover this will only increase my enjoyment.

Five Stars

 on August 30, 2015
By Cookie
it’s the standard when you want to know the plot of an opera.

Five Stars

 on September 22, 2015
By Samantha
Wonderful compilation!! A must have for all opera lovers

At Last! Khovanshchina explained!

2 people found this helpful.
 on December 26, 2009
By Anne Lautner
The information in this book is the best I have seen explaining the plot of Musorgsky’s Khovanshchina. The book is so filled with excellent photos and information that I thought the price was incorrect when I bought my copy.

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