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A Short History of Opera

Donald J. Grout and Hermine Weigel Williams

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fourth edition
July, 2003
Cloth, 992 pages, 30 photos, 143 music examples
ISBN: 978-0-231-11958-0
$50.00 / £34.50

When first published in 1947, A Short History of Opera immediately achieved international status as a classic in the field. Now, more than five decades later, this thoroughly revised and expanded fourth edition informs and entertains opera lovers just as its predecessors have.

The fourth edition incorporates new scholarship that traces the most important developments in the evolution of musical drama. After surveying anticipations of the operatic form in the lyric theater of the Greeks, medieval dramatic music, and other forerunners, the book reveals the genre’s beginnings in the seventeenth century and follows its progress to the present day.

A Short History of Opera examines not only the standard performance repertoire, but also works considered important for the genre’s development. Its expanded scope investigates opera from Eastern European countries and Finland. The section on twentieth-century opera has been reorganized around national operatic traditions including a chapter devoted solely to opera in the United States, which incorporates material on the American musical and ties between classical opera and popular musical theater. A separate section on Chinese opera is also included.

With an extensive multilanguage bibliography, more than one hundred musical examples, and stage illustrations, this authoritative one-volume survey will be invaluable to students and serious opera buffs. New fans will also find it highly accessible and informative. Extremely thorough in its coverage, A Short History of Opera is now more than ever the book to turn to for anyone who wants to know about the history of this art form.

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About the Author

Donald Jay Grout was, until his death in 1987, Given Foundation Professor of Musicology Emeritus at Cornell University. He was author of the classic A History of Western Music, and Alessandro Scarlatti: An Introduction to His Operas, as well as general editor of The Operas of Alessandro Scarlatti.Hermine Weigel Williams is Scholar-in Residence at Hamilton College. She has contributed to The New Grove Dictionary of Music , The Operas of Alessandro Scarlatti, and The Symphony: 1720–1840. She is author of Francesco Bartolomeo Conti: His Life and Music, Sibelius and His Masonic Music, and co-author of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: A Guide to Research. She is also co-editor of Facts Behind the Songs: A Handbook of American Popular Music from the Nineties to the 90’s.

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