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Part of Cambridge Introductions to Music

  • Date Published: March 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521746472

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About the Authors
  • What is opera and how does it work? How has this dramatic form developed and what is its relevance in the modern world? Perfect for music students and opera-goers, this introductory guide addresses these questions and many more, exploring opera as a complete theatrical experience. Organised chronologically and avoiding technical musical terminology, the book clearly demonstrates how opera reflected and reacted to changes in the world around it. A special feature of the volume is the inclusion of illustrative tables throughout. These provide detailed, easy to follow analysis of arias, scenes and acts; visual guides to historical movements; and chronologies relating to genres and individual composers' works. Overall, the book fosters an understanding of opera as a living form as it encounters and uses material from an ever expanding repertoire in time, place and culture.

    • Presents a dedicated study of opera as a dramatic form, showing how opera works as a complete theatrical experience and how this is achieved
    • Explains in an easy-to-follow way how particular acts, scenes, arias and ensembles work, avoiding technical musical analysis
    • Includes unique tables which clearly illustrate the relationship between key cultural and social ideas and musical development, allowing readers to see how opera has been formed by its wider cultural, social and political context
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Cannon's passion for the topic shines through - each chapter is peppered with little details that a more detached author may have thought unnecessary. Even a novice who has never seen a particular production will suddenly feel oddly familiar with it. Students of music and opera will find the uncluttered and jargon-less yet still erudite tone of this book invigorating, and are sure to be reaching for it as a first port of call. And there's certainly no room to doubt Cannon's authority - he created the first ever degree in opera studies. One for your reading lists, class.' Laura Sylvester, Muso

    'I liked the way that a strong connection was established between historical events and contemporary cultural achievements, the shared themes and the close relationship between music, poetry, painting and theatre … Also included are an extensive 12-page bibliography, a table of major opera, artistic and political developments from 1899 to 2008, and a glossary of key terms. Throughout the text there are illustrative tables, providing detailed easy to follow analysis of arias, scenes and acts, visual guides to historical movements, and chronologies relating to genres and individual composers' works … As a work of reference and of study, its 400 pages provide a thorough grounding which the well-informed enthusiast will relish and be pleased to have on the shelf.' The Bookbag

    '… masterly … a highly recommendable guide to the history of opera.' Classical Music

    'I would certainly want to own a copy.' Opera

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521746472
    • length: 450 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 173 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.88kg
    • contains: 168 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I:
    1. Pre-operatic forms
    2. First operatic forms: Peri, Caccini, Monteverdi, Cavalli, Keiser
    3. Formalization
    4. Reform - the reintegration of elements
    5. Comedy and the 'real world'
    6. 'Authentic' performance
    Part II:
    7. Romanticism and romantic opera in Germany
    8. Opera in nineteenth-century Italy
    9. Grand Opéra and the visual language of opera
    10. The Wagnerian revolution
    11. Nationalists: vernacular language and music
    12. The role of the singer
    Part III:
    13. The turn of the century and the crisis in opera
    14. First modernism: symbolist and expressionist opera
    15. The dramaturgy of opera: libretto - words and structure
    16. Narrative opera: realistic and non-realistic
    17. Radical narratives
    18. Directors and the direction of opera
    1. Motifs from Der Ring
    2. The development of singing voices
    3. The development of lyric theatre alternatives to 'opera'
    4. Some major operas, artistic and political events of the twentieth century
    Glossary of terms

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • History of Opera
    • Imaginative Worlds of Opera
    • Music as Drama: An Introduction to Opera
    • Music, Meanings, and MEssages in Opera
    • Musical Genres: Opera
    • Opera History
    • Opera Literature
    • Opera Masterpieces
    • Opera Theatre Workshop and Opera Theatre Production
    • Operatic Literature
    • Saints and Sinnners: Roles of Women in Romantic Opera
  • Author

    Robert Cannon
    Robert Cannon is an independent music critic and writer and runs dedicated courses on opera and theatre. He designed and created the first Degree in Opera Studies, which is offered as Distance Learning by Rose Bruford College and is validated by the University of Manchester.

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