The opera is the most incredible of all artistic expressions – and this book is the most incredible of all attempts to describe it! It is a masterpiece of vividness, information, entertainment and utility.
Writing a single-volume history of opera, which has fascinated people since its beginnings 400 years ago, is an extremely courageous undertaking. She has to cope with such masters as Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Strauss and Puccini, but also masterpieces such as Orfeo, Giulio Cesare, Così fan tutte, Rigoletto, Valkyrie, Salome and Tosca – from the countless vocal stars of all eras from Farinelli to Not to mention Anna Netrebko.
But it must also make clear the immensely complex interplay of instrumental and vocal music, of artistic ideas and ideological convictions that have always driven and transformed opera during this long period. And it must set the exciting social-historical and economic-historical aspects in the picture, which characterized the opera as a fair of the Vanities and enormous money-making machine at all times.
If a single-volume opera story does it all and yet remains understandable, educational and entertaining – then it’s a masterpiece. Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker have succeeded in doing this great feat that all readers interested in music can look forward to.