A quite delightful overture to opera, this has a Mozartian light touch. Olga Maynard is alive to the needs of the student and teacher as well as to the would-be buff, but her tutorial is thoroughly enjoyable. She covers the fundamentals of opera with grace. She gives a history of opera as it developed from Renaissance music, from the era of Camerata to the twentieth century--her emphasis is on the standard repertory with which the new opera goer is likely to acquaint himself, and she provides a basic ""Sampler"" with an exposition of their libretti. Her base is a belief in opera as ""drama in music,"" which her use of Aida as an example of operatic form and substance underscores. In keeping with her assertion that ""the romance of opera is in persons and places,"" she fills her book with fascinating facts about the art--singers and singing, composers, and musical forms, librettists and libretti. She also relates the history of the times to that of the art. Standard in repertoire but not performance.