Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Opera Manual

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Opera Manual

Article excerpt

Martin, Nicholas Ivor. The Opera Manual. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2014. Cloth, xxxvi, 442 pp., $85.00, ISBN 978-0-8108-8868-5; e-book, $84.99, ISBN 978-0-8108-8869-2 www.rowman.com

This single volume performance resource for opera offers information about nearly 600 operas by more than 200 composers. In the introduction, author Martin explains the criteria for inclusion. He chose standard works in the repertory, those that were extremely popular during their time, small-scale works that are frequently performed by schools, and works by famous composers, even if the operas are not well known. Martin also includes all operas by major composers, if the list is not unwieldy; for instance, Puccini's complete catalogue is cited, but not that of Donizetti.

Entries are arranged alphabetically by title, with a translation into English if that is not the original language. Each entry includes information about the composer, librettist, original language, source of the story, date and location of premiere, setting, type of opera, structure, sets, acts, length, major arias, categorizations of roles, chorus and dance demands, orchestration (including whether any instrumentalists are needed on stage), publishers, and copyright information. Martin also identifies "Hazards," which refers to "... unusually difficult stage business, such as the destruction of the universe [or] singers transformed into frogs."

The data is detailed, yet succinct. Plot outlines and character lists provide relevant content without verbosity; the author manages to condense the entries for Götterdämmerung, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Les Troyens into a single page each, and the notoriously complicated plot of Le nozze di Figaro is deftly encapsulated in four manageable paragraphs. …

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