What was it like at the opening night of Mozart’s Don Giovanni or Wagner’s Das Rheingold? This glittering introduction to the world of opera takes us behind the scenes during premiere performances of five extraordinary operas.
"A rare and wonderful cultural history."Philip Kennicott, Washington Post
An absorbing tangle of minutiae about performing circumstances, personalities, conventions, expectations, critical responses, gossip. . . . This book is readable. Addictively.”Michael White, Opera Now
This thoroughly enjoyable and informative book will delight all opera lovers; highly recommended.”Library Journal
Repeating the successful format of his earlier First Nights: Five Musical Premieres, music historian Kelly (Harvard Univ.) presents fascinating discussions of five opera premieres: Handel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, Wagner's Das Rheingold, and Verdi's Otello. What these operas have in common is that they are monumental works that continue to be extremely popular. A gifted storyteller, Kelly reproduces much of the commotion, enthusiasm, and glamour of the opening performance; vividly re-creates the exciting moment when they were first viewed by the public; and provides glimpses of their social and historical settings along with information about everyone involved in the production, from composers to impresarios. Quotes from contemporary documents, reviews, letters, memoirs, and newspaper articles flesh out the story and add depth to the general scene. This thoroughly enjoyable and informative book will delight all opera lovers; highly recommended, especially where Kelly's first book did well.-Timothy J. McGee, Hastings, Ont. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.