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Opera is the fastest growing of all the performing arts, attracting audiences of all ages who are enthralled by the gorgeous music, vivid drama, and magnificent production values. If you've decided that the time has finally come to learn about opera and discover for yourself what it is about opera that sends your normally reserved friends into states of ecstatic abandon, this is the book for you.

Opera 101 is recognized as the standard text in English for anyone who wants to become an opera lover--a clear, friendly, and truly complete handbook to learning how to listen to opera, whether on the radio, on recordings, or live at the opera house. Fred Plotkin, an internationally respected writer and teacher about opera who for many years was performance manager of the Metropolitan Opera, introduces the reader (whatever his or her level of musical knowledge) to all the elements that make up opera, including:

  • A brief, entertaining history of opera;
  • An explanation of key operatic concepts, from vocal types to musical conventions;
  • Hints on the best way to approach the first opera you attend and how to best understand what is happening both offstage and on;
  • Lists of recommended books and recordings, and the most complete traveler's guide to opera houses around the world.
The major part of Opera 101 is devoted to an almost minute-by-minute analysis of eleven key operas, ranging from Verdi's thunderous masterpiece Rigoletto and Puccini's electrifying Tosca through works by Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, Offenbach, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, to the psychological complexities of Richard Strauss's Elektra. Once you have completed Opera 101, you will be prepared to see and hear any opera you encounter, thanks to this book's unprecedentedly detailed and enjoyable method of revealing the riches of opera.

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