Peter Grimes/Gloriana

    By Benjamin Britten

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    This is a double volume dedicated to two masterpieces by Benjamin Britten. While Peter Grimes established Britten as a composer of international standing, Gloriana, composed for the coronation of Elizabeth II, has never enjoyed a comparable fame. The variety of mood, characterization and pace, in ea…

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    Das Rhinegold/The Rhine Gold

    By Richard Wagner

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    Das Rheingold, the opening of Wagner’s four-part The Ring of the Nibelung, stands out as more genteel and picturesque than the others. But it immediately establishes the huge scale of the overall work, and the extraordinary musical language that will be displayed throughout. It is a miracle of music…

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    Wozzeck

    By Alban Berg

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    According to Elias Canetti, “with Wozzeck Büchner achieved the most complete revolution in the whole of literature”. The same can be said of Berg’s opera, as revolutionary in the history of music. Mark DeVoto and Theo Hirsrunner discuss why this complex score suits the chaotic nature of the play. In…

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    Khovanshchina

    By Modest Mussorgsky

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    Mussorgsky’s last opera dramatizes the conspiracy of Prince Khovansky against Tsar Peter the Great, and the epic ends with the exile, murder and suicide of all the power groups of old Russia. When Musorgsky died in 1881, it was unfinished, and Rimsky-Korsakov completed it; Ravel and Stravinsky made…

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    Salome/Elektra

    By Richard Strauss

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    Richard Strauss turned his genius to opera at the turn of the twentieth century, and this guide contains the texts and introductions to his first two masterpieces in what was, for him, a new genre. Despite obvious similarities – both operas consisting of one act, centred upon one female title role –…

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    Der Rosenkavalier

    By Richard Strauss

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    Der Rosenkavalier has one of the longest and most exquisitely crafted texts of all opera. The depth and subtlety of the characterization can only be appreciated by those who have read it. Derrick Puffett notes that the sentimentality and parody of the subject perfectly matched Strauss’s genius. Mich…

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    La Cenerentola

    By Gioacchino Rossini

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    These Opera Guides are ideal companions to the opera. They provide stimulating introductory articles together with the complete text of each opera in English and the original. Among the features of this Guide to La Cenerentola, Philip Gossett throws new light on the remarkable story of the opera’s c…

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    Siegfried

    By Richard Wagner

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    “A Turandot filtered through a modern brain,” wrote Puccini, describing his plans to rework the eighteenth-century fable by Carlo Gozzi. According to Mosco Carner, Puccini’s last and supreme work is an advanced score which, with an orchestration that reflects contemporaries such as Richard Strauss a…

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    Die Walkure/The Valkyrie

    By Richard Wagner

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    “Things like this are written only for people who have good powers of endurance (so really for nobody!),” wrote Wagner about Die Walküre. Yet, as Geoffrey Skelton points out, the opera has enjoyed a separate popularity and existence from the Ring cycle. George Gillespie shows just how the string of…

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    La forza del destino

    By Giuseppe Verdi

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    Verdi’s War and Peace, writes Peter Conrad of this epic opera composed in 1862. It encompasses the extremes of a religious and secular existence – the worlds of the lovers pursued by an uncompromising fate and of the people in the scenes at the inn and on the battlefield. Despite its beautiful score…

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    Die Zauberflöte/Magic Flute

    By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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    With his last opera Mozart created a piece of theatre which defies categorization. In theory it is a Singspiel, a mixture of songs and dialogue, in which the spectacular effects and comedy fit naturally: they appeal today as much as they did when it first opened in popular Viennese theatre two hundr…

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    Tannhäuser

    By Richard Wagner

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    What can explain Wagner’s obsession with Tannhäuser, which he first conceived in 1845 and still considered unfinished at his death in 1883? Describing of the struggle of a man torn between erotic love and spiritual fulfilment, the opera contains the kernels of all his later works: man’s need for lov…

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