Lengthy gestation of work on opera

The Birth of an Opera: Fifteen Masterpieces from Poppea to WozzeckMichael Rose has now published his long-awaited book, The Birth of an Opera: Fifteen Masterpieces from Poppea to Wozzeck. It is a distant descendant of radio broadcasts that he made fifty years ago. In it he discusses the origins of, and responses to, operas by fourteen composers (with Mozart being allowed two operas). The reviews have been very enthusiastic both in the UK and in the US; you can see examples in The Spectator and The Wall Street Journal.

You can find out here about another Michael Rose who lived in the neighbourhood.

4 thoughts on “Lengthy gestation of work on opera

  1. I developed a love for opera only about 20 years ago and have gradually not only built up a list of favorites, but also am now able to enjoy operas that at earlier stages I found too difficult. This book tells me why. More, by showing me how the art form has evolved, and why, I now have a much better appreciation for what is happening in good opera. Particularly helpful for me was the way the authors explain in some detail, using arias and scenes from many well-known operas, how the chord changes and musical themes and refrains tell the story as much or more than the libretti. I’ve wondered why there are so few contemporary operas that are successful or have any hope of entering into the repertory. This book discusses that issue in great detail in the final chapter – for me, worth the price of the book right there.

  2. I’ve now corrected the Wall Street Journal link, which ends several paragraphs of praise by describing the book as ‘an appealing invitation to lovers of opera to discover—or learn anew—how 15 imperishable works of genius came into being’.

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