Opera: A History in Documents (Paperback)
In Opera: A History in Documents, Piero Weiss presents a wide-ranging, vivid, and carefully researched tour of operatic history. A unique anthology of primary source material, this survey includes 115 chronologically organized selections--passages from private letters, public decrees, descriptions of first performances, portions of libretti, literary criticism and satire, newspaper reviews and articles, and poetry and fiction--from opera's late Renaissance infancy through modern times. This first-hand testimony allows students to experience the history of opera as eyewitnesses, offering an immediacy and validity unmatched by standard histories. Readers are transported to a Medici wedding in sixteenth-century Florence, to the Haymarket Theatre for a performance of Handel's Rinaldo, to Mozart at work on Die Entf"uhrung aus dem Serail, and to Bertolt Brecht's writing desk, among many other landmarks in opera's history. Weiss expertly guides students, providing highly accessible headnotes to each selection that both contextualize the excerpts and position them within the broader historical narrative. In addition, he offers original translations of more than half of the selections in the book, many of which appear here in English for the first time. Stage settings, costumes, portraits, contemporary playbills, and other illustrations enliven the text and help to recreate the feel of the era under discussion. Opera: A History in Documents is an intrinsically lively text that will enrich college courses on opera and delight any music-loving reader.