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This period also saw the rise of castrati—male singers who were castrated as boys to preserve their soprano voices. The few who survived and made it to the top were the singing stars of the 17th and 18th century. Today those roles are sung by countertenors, or by women.

This was brought about by the social movement known as the Enlightenment, with less elaborate musical forms and more realistic plots read: fewer gods, more humans and a reaction against excessive vocal display. However, this period contains its fair share of tragedies and dramas in addition to comedies.

A Short History of Opera by Donald Jay Grout

The famous Bizet opera Carmen features a feckless gypsy woman and her ill-fated love affair with a soldier. The late 19th century was dominated by two giants of opera, Italian Giuseppe Verdi and German Richard Wagner, both born in Verdi wrote in a hugely tuneful and dramatic style.

Opera 101

Perhaps his most popular opera is probably La Traviata, the tragic story of a dying courtesan. Meanwhile, in Germany, Wagner singlehandedly changed the course of opera with his huge ambition and talent. I am completely aware of your love of opera! I have never been to an opera and really want to go one day, so if you have any good recommendations let me know!

A Short History of Opera

I wish I could have seen one back in the Classical period. That would have been amazing! Alayna, I love this post so much! I have played parts mostly overtures from many of the operas you have mentioned, and they are always really fun.

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Jan 07, Valerie Denney rated it really liked it. I read this for my Opera Literature.


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Informative and must for anyone trying to understand the world and history of opera. Aug 13, Kathleen rated it it was ok Shelves: music , musicology. While I am in no doubt that the research is comprehensive, there is too much information to cover in sixteen weeks. The book, A Short History of Opera is in its fourth edition and is neither short nor an exhaustive history of opera. Jan 24, Cordelia rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction , history , academic. I read this for a class, but I think it would be an excellent reference book for any opera enthusiast to read a chapter or two before seeing something new.

I do not recommend trying to read it through because it is close to a thousand pages and much of it is not relevant to the modern opera viewer other than for context.

The Opera Quarterly

But this is a very thoroughly researched text and I learned a lot from it. Apr 14, Eric rated it liked it Shelves: outside-reading. Very comprehensive and detailed account of the history of opera. Complete with musical examples and the story of the development of an art form. I would only recommend this for people who are seriously trying to learn everything they possibly can about opera history.

Probably best saved for reading in a college course. I wish I had sold this book back to the bookstore before it was outdated.

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But since I didn't, I'll keep it and use it as a resource. Franky rated it it was amazing May 22, Steven rated it really liked it Sep 06, Jonathan rated it liked it Oct 09, Burcu rated it it was amazing Jan 31, Sanah Garling rated it liked it Mar 25, Joanne rated it really liked it Mar 19, Erica rated it really liked it Jun 04, John rated it it was amazing Oct 16, Chloe rated it liked it Feb 11, Robert Loewen rated it really liked it Mar 02, Rachel Eisenburg rated it really liked it Jul 16,