The opening chapters of this voluminous opera guide deal with a little musical theory (the function of the overture; melody, aris and recitative, etc.), some aspects of performance (from the singers, to the orchestra- piece by piece- scoring and pitch), to the audience, and a general history of the opera- its houses and great singers- century by century. The k of the book provides fairly extensive synposes of some fifty great operas with their most important musical themes (they will run about nine pages, a rough calculation). There is a glossary of terms, composers, performers, as well. The obvious competition here will be the longstanding Victor Book of Operas and more recently, Milton Cross' Complete Stories of the Great Operas (1947) but this is a more generous guide.