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Recommended Readings

Suggestions for those putting together their own opera bookshelf.

Bravo! A Guide to Opera for the Perplexed
by Barrymore Laurence Scherer. Witty and informative, this introduction to opera is a fun, fast read.
Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera
by Fred Plotkin. A user-friendly guide that takes you step by step through the great operas, referencing recordings (not included) to illustrate the author's descriptions.
Opera For Lovers
by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. This contemporary diva gives a behind-the-scenes look at opera as only one who has sung in the greatest opera houses of the world can.
When the Fat Lady Sings
by David Barber. A irreverently funny history of opera where the author's skewed take on personalities and events find a perfect match in Dave Donald's illustrations.
Opera: A New Way of Listening
by Alexander Waugh. This beautifully illustrated book includes a CD with over seventy minutes of opera excerpts, which highlight specific points in the text.
First Intermissions
by Owen Lee. A slim volume that analyzes many popular operas with delightful and frequently touching commentary from the scripts of the author's Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts.
100 Great Operas and Their Stories
by Henry W. Simon. Easy-to-follow synopses of the best-known operas, each prefaced by a lively introduction.

And for insomniacs who want to become overnight opera buffs:

A Short History of Opera
by Donald Jay Grout. At 913 pages, this standard reference volume is hardly short, but it does offer well-written and informative insights.
The Story of Opera
By Richard Somerset-Ward. A beautiful, fully-illustrated coffee table book with a readable history of opera.
A Night at the Opera: An Irreverent Guide to The Plots, The Singers, The Composers, The Recordings
by Denis Sir Forman. Amusingly catty.
The Viking Opera Guide
A treasure-trove of information about almost every opera you’ll ever hear or even hear about.
The King and I: The Uncensored Tale of Luciano Pavarotti's Rise to Fame by His Manager, Friend and Sometime Adversary
By Herbert Breslin. The title says it all.
The Inner Voice: The Making of a Singer
By Renee Fleming. A recent memoir written by one of today’s leading sopranos.
The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera
By Joseph Volpe. The inside story from the Metropolitan Opera’s former General Director.

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Photo Credit

Mourning Becomes Electra, 2003 © Rozarii Lynch