Opera: A History in Documents

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In Opera: A History in Documents, Piero Weiss presents a wide-ranging, vivid, and carefully researched tour of operatic history. A unique anthology of primary source material, this survey includes 115 chronologically organized selections–passages from private letters, public decrees, descriptions of first performances, portions of libretti, literary criticism and satire, newspaper reviews and articles, and poetry and fiction–from opera's late Renaissance infancy through modern times. This first-hand testimony allows students to experience the history of opera as eyewitnesses, offering an immediacy and validity unmatched by standard histories. Readers are transported to a Medici wedding in sixteenth-century Florence, to the Haymarket Theatre for a performance of Handel's Rinaldo, to Mozart at work on Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and to Bertolt Brecht's writing desk, among many other landmarks in opera's history. Weiss expertly guides students, providing highly accessible headnotes to each selection that both contextualize the excerpts and position them within the broader historical narrative. In addition, he offers original translations of more than half of the selections in the book, many of which appear here in English for the first time. Stage settings, costumes, portraits, contemporary playbills, and other illustrations enliven the text and help to recreate the feel of the era under discussion. Opera: A History in Documents is an intrinsically lively text that will enrich college courses on opera and delight any music-loving reader.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195116380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195116380
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.1 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

Customer Reviews

Opera comes to life through the voices of its creators

3 people found this helpful.
 on January 12, 2015
By James F. Harrington
A unique and fascinating look at primary sources outlining the development of opera from the Medici wedding in 1585 to Stravinsky’s collaboration with W.H. Auden on The Rake’s Progress—and beyond! This is an excellent book for anyone who is trying to gain a greater understanding of opera, its major players throughout history, and who would like to understand opera as a living, breathing art form.

Four Stars

 on May 12, 2015
By Kat Staes
good book but a little boring towards the end

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