The Opera Lover’s Companion

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Every opera lover enjoys a performance more when accompanied by a knowledgeable friend. In this indispensable guide, well-known opera critic Charles Osborne provides exactly that. Osborne fills in the details on 175 of the world’s most frequently performed operas, including facts about the composer and the music, a plot outline, accounts of famous performers, and much more.
"This book is exactly what the title claims: an opera lover's companion. Reading it is like going to the opera with a knowledgeable friend who tells you enough to make you want to see the piece but not so much you're drowned in superfluous detail."Richard Fawkes, Opera Now
"What this invaluable book contains is the ideal rundown on 175 operas from Auber's Fra Diavolo to Zimmerman's Die Soldaten, in each case putting the work in context within the composer's development, with a list of characters, a short synopsis and pointers towards the most imortant arias, duets and ensembles, all in a personal congenial tone, like unto an operatically wise and loving uncle."Denby Richards, Musical Opinion
An erudite, instructive and unpretentious guide.”Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph
"It’s hard to imagine any other book on the subject more informative and helpful to the average enthusiast. . . . This book is one you’ll cherish."Books in Canada

Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (April 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300123736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300123739
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds

Customer Reviews

Don’t leave home without it.

One person found this helpful.
 on November 17, 2013
By ahertzba
It’s an informative reference and reminder for the plots and context of the composers and their sources. It has made my cafe hour before an opera more enjoyable, as well as the opera itself.


2 people found this helpful.
 on January 7, 2013
By ACar_CA
Outstanding beginners reference book. Those well versed in opera won’t need it, but it is a nice guide for the newbie.

Know before you go

 on March 18, 2013
By C. Parson
I have fallen in love with opera as I see it at the movie theaters through Fathom Events. This adds to my experience so much.

An excellent manual for quick reference

 on July 30, 2013
By Estela Moreno-Mazzoli
A handy manual to basic information on individual operas and their composers. However do not expect in depth analysis on each work or ample bio details which are beyond the scope of this work.

Good transaction

 on January 23, 2013
By kwb
It was a fast & efficient transaction. The product was as advertised. I would be happy to work with this seller again.

The Opera Lover’s Companion

56 people found this helpful.
 on November 28, 2004
By J Scott Morrison
Charles Osborne has written many books about opera–books about the complete operas of Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and others, for instance–and is a well-respected authority in the field. This book contains information about almost 200 operas, most of them popular and frequently mounted, but some of them pretty rare–works like Szymanowski’s ‘King Roger,’ Dallapiccola’s ‘Il prigioniero,’ and Zimmermann’s ‘Die Soldaten.’ The format of each entry is as follows: Composer and his dates, name of the opera, type of opera, approximate length, cast of characters with their voice type, information about librettist and original plot source, time and place of the action, where and when first performed. This is followed by a few paragraphs about the composer and the origins of the work, often containing interesting tidbits about the how the work got to the stage, who was involved in the première, early reaction to the opera and so forth. Then there is a fairly detailed (and clearly written) plot summary, followed by Osborne’s own description and assessment of the music, the high points of the score, weak points in the score if any and finally a recommendation for a recording. It is of note that he recommends audio (CD) recordings but no DVD or videotape versions. (I find myself agreeing more often than not with his recommendations in those instances where I have my own opinion.) There is a fairly barebones index at the back of the book.

pocket opera bucket list!

2 people found this helpful.
 on April 11, 2015
By Penelope Schmitt
It’s a pocket ‘bucket list’! Plot summaries, casts of characters, and even suggested recordings of a host of operas, from favorites to fairly obscure pieces. I love this little guide, and I will be using it a lot!

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