Opera For Dummies

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“Pogue is a wonderful teacher… He can teach anybody.”
— Gay Talese, bestselling author of Honor Thy Father

“Scott Speck is a great communicator of classical music…. Concert audiences and readers alike can’t help getting caught up in the joy of his subject.”
— David Styers, American Symphony Orchestra League

Opera is weird. Everybody wears makeup and sings all the time. Even when they’re singing your language, which is rare, you still can’t understand the words. Women play men, men play women, and 45-year-olds play teenagers. All the main characters seem to get killed off. And when somebody dies, he takes ten minutes to sing about it. Yet, for all its weirdness, an operatic experience is an experience in breathtaking beauty. When you hear a soprano float a soft high C, or a tenor singing a love song, or a full-throated chorus in the climax of a scene’s dramatic finale, you can’t help getting goosebumps.

Want to experience all that beauty for yourself, but don’t know where to begin? Opera For Dummies is an excellent place to start. Written by an acclaimed conductor and a musical director, this friendly guide tells you what you need to know to:Understand opera from the Baroque and Roman periods through todayInterpret characters, orchestra, chorus, and other playersUnderstand what’s happening, both on stage and offChoose the best seatsIdentify famous operasBuild a great collection of opera recordingsLocate opera sites and chat groups online

Whether you’re interested in attending a live opera, want to build a collection of recordings, or just want to be able to talk about opera intelligently, Opera For Dummies is for you. Among other things, you’ll explore:The words, the music, and the people who sing itThe history of opera and the lives of the great composersGoing to the opera — including tips for getting tickets, preparing for the opera, dressing for the opera, and moreMusical and theatrical conventions used in operaIn-depth synopses of the world’s most beloved operas

On the bonus CD you’ll find:More than 60 minutes of music compiled especially for the bookA multimedia piece for PC or MAC

Wonder what it is about opera that can make a grown person cry like a baby? Find out in Opera For Dummies.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (September 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764550101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764550102
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds

Customer Reviews

Now you’ll understand why opera has existed nearly 400 years!

One person found this helpful.
 on February 15, 2017
By shopaholic1
Excellent book! I’ve utilized other ” for Dummies” books but this is the first that had a CD with it. I was thrilled when I popped it into my CD player and out came the Barber of Seville overture, my favorite overture! 🙂 I haven’t yet popped it into my laptop; it says there’s visuals also. This book makes it so easy to understand why operas even exist and HAVE existed since 1627!

Expanding My Musical Background…

One person found this helpful.
 on May 19, 2014
By LadyBeth
I had the good fortune to take an adult education course (5 90-minute sessions) in Understanding Opera. A marvelous maestro/instructor opened a whole new world for me! This book is perfect for supplementing that instruction – and helping me develop and ENJOY this aspect of music. It’s a wonderful reference – and allows you to pick and choose what you want to focus on learning….you don’t have to read one chapter right after another.


 on October 21, 2015
By Lucy
Amazing!!! Spent my life in math and science. Realized how uncultured I was and started exploring the arts. I never played an instrument in my life, been to a musical, ballet or opera. I was starting from scratch and this book was so engaging. I thought it would be one of those things where I’d start it, but lack the attention span to finish, but he really makes it so easy to follow. I have greater appreciation for shows in general. This book was written in 1997, you have to laugh when he tells you how to get tickets by mail or go to the box office to look at seating chart; we are so lucky to have modern day advances!

Best intro to opera book

 on May 2, 2012
By M. Myers
If you’re looking for a serious commentary on opera, this isn’t it. But if you want a basic introduction, this is the best book I’ve found. It’s fine for absolute beginners, and also for people who know a thing or two but would like to brush up – or just be entertained a little.

Five Stars

 on April 15, 2017
By Arnold Perrin
I was not an opera fan previously, but now I’m looking forward to an opportunity to attend one.

Five Stars

 on December 20, 2017
By D L Smith
Given as gift…

Great book with a quick opera education!

One person found this helpful.
 on June 14, 2010
By B. K. Probst
I was raised on classical music (mother was a pianist)but opera was neglected. Since I love opera, but am intellectualy ‘challenged’ in this department, Opera For Dummies has been a lifesaver! Heard the phrase, ‘spinto tenor’ but had no idea what it meant…..now I do. This, plus many, many others in the book make it well worth the money spent.

Five Stars

 on August 5, 2017
By Amazon Customer
Easy to access information on a potentially complicated subject!

A Handbook for Beginner & Veteran

 on October 18, 2013
By Lawrence F. Pinson
I liked the book from most perspectives. It gives good coverage of the field of opera, taking the reader from the beginning and basics through the growth of this curious genre of entertainment in various cultures. The book presents useful information about each of the operas highlighted, including story origin and author, librettist adaptation for opera, composer capturing the essence in musical form. The book’s authors treat the challenging and sometimes heavy subjects humorously. The organization of the book was the only detraction for me.

Opera for Dummies

One person found this helpful.
 on December 22, 2016
By Grandma Barbara
Fun and just right for my Level Zero experience!

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