Professor Kerman's book, directed to the living pulse and essence of opera, falls among the flock of offerings by professional devotees like a challenging glove. He champions opera as an elevated art form in which music articulates drama, clarifies the dramatic idea and by revealing the quality of action determines dramatic form in the most serious sense -- the composer is himself a dramatist. With such an approach there must be the cutting away of proud flesh -- and Professor Kerman does not spare what he considers the banality of Tosca or the excelling emptiness of Rosenkavalier. His review and analysis of opera includes Monteverdi, Purcell, Gluck, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Debussy, Berg, Stravinsky -- as creators of music drama; his consideration is specific as to scene, theme, position in the continuum. From the triumphant failure of Monteverdi to the magic marriage in Mozart's Magic Flute, the sung play of Debussy, the symphonic poem of Wagner, the modern retrenchment with Wozzeck a combination of Wagner and Debussy, Professor Kerman makes his determined commentary -- a joyful provocation to serious music and drama lovers.