Dramma Per Musica: Italian Opera Seria of the Eighteenth Century
Dramma per musica-the most usual term for Italian serious opera from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century-was a modern, enlightened form of theater that presented a unified, artistically designed, dramatic enactment of human stories, expressed by the voice and underscored by the orchestra. This book by one of the world's most eminent musicologists illustrates the diversity of this baroque art form and explains how it has given us opera as we know it.
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This is a significant and highly influential book for the revisionist approaches it offers to the much-misunderstood genre of opera seria -- the most important operatic genre of the eighteenth century. Its primary impact, however, has been on academic musicology (as its intended market), and as a collection of essays rather than a monograph on a single theme it does not make easy reading for opera buffs. Those wishing to develop a better understanding of opera seria might benefit from reading the introduction, though even this will be tough going for the uninitiated.
The rating given here is a reflection of the book's intrinsic worth and the impact it has had on the way we understand eighteenth-century opera, rather than on its accessibility to a general reader.
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