Penguin Book


A History of Opera

Carolyn Abbate, Roger Parker

Opera is in many ways the most extraordinary artistic medium of the last four hundred years. Prohibitively expensive and patently unrealistic, it can nevertheless paint the human passions with astonishing power and drama. This book, the first new, full-length, single-volume history of opera for more than a generation provokes in-depth discussions of many works by the greatest opera composers, from Monteverdi, Handel and Mozart, to Verdi and Wagner, to Strauss, Puccini, Berg, and Britten. There are lively discussions of opera's social, political and literary background, its economic cicumstances and the almost continual polemics that have accompanied its development through the centuries. Central to the book is an exploration of the tensions that have always sustained and enlivened opera. Abbate and Parker examine the problems that opera has faced in the last half century, when new works - which were once opera's life-blood - have shrunk to a tiny minority, have largely failed to find a permanent place in the repertoire. Yet the book's final message is one of celebration. Even if the majority of opera's most popular and enduring works were written in what is now a remote European past, in circumstances very different from our own, and the viability of contemporary opera is ever more in question, opera as an art form remains extraordinarily buoyant and challenging. It continues to transform people physically, emotionally, and intellectually, and to articulate human experience in ways no other art form can match.

Carolyn Abbate is Professor of Music at Harvard University and the author of Unsung Voices (1991) and In Search of Opera (2001). As well as about opera, she writes on philosophy, music as performance, ephemeral art, and film and sound technology. Her work has been translated into many languages. She is herself a translator, most recently of Vladimir Jankélévitch's La musique et l'ineffable, and has been involved in theatre, as a dramaturge and director. Roger Parker is Professor of Music at King's College, London, and the author of Leonora's Last Act (1997) and Remaking the Song (2006). He writes particularly Italian opera of the nineteenth century. He is founding co-editor of the Donizetti critical edition, published by Ricordi, and editor of The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera (1994).

Division
Penguin
Publication date
01/11/2012
Category
  • Arts and Culture
  • History
Format TPS
234 x 153mm
Illustrations
24pp colour inset
Extent
624
US
W.W. Norton & Company Inc
Translation
Penguin
Rights sold
Czech
German
Italian
Portuguese
Film
Penguin
Serial
Penguin
Audio (Unabridged)
Penguin
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