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THE STORY OF OPERA by Richard Somerset-Ward


by Richard Somerset-Ward

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8109-4193-7
Publisher: Abrams

Opera seems to generate more coffee-table tomes than any other subject—always beautiful, usually interesting, and occasionally informative. This one manages to succeed on all three counts. Somerset-Ward, the former head of music and arts programming for BBC Television, has attempted to provide a comprehensive history of the art in time for its 400th birthday (the first opera performance, of Dafne, took place in Florence in February 1598), and if he’s a bit late raising the curtain, no one has real cause to complain. For in addition to requisitely gorgeous illustrations and photos, Somerset-Ward has written an authoritative 300-page text tracing the history of opera from its origins in ancient Greek dramaturgy and Baroque court spectacles to its golden age in the 19th century and its many transformations over the past 30 years. In a book that will appeal to all opera fans, Somerset- Ward’s history will manage to attract the serious musicologist and historian. (Book-of-the-Month Club selection)