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Thread: Book/CD for someone just getting into opera

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    Default Book/CD for someone just getting into opera

    My stepdad has recently started to become interested in opera, and seeing as it's normally really difficult to find something to buy him for Christmas I thought I'd make the most of this opportunity and get him something opera-related. As he's only just getting into it, he hasn't really worked out what sort of thing he likes best, so I was wondering if anyone knows of something like a book and CD combination which would be a good introduction to some of the most well known operas - so he can read about the operas and listen to some of the music from them. I don't even know if such a thing exists, I've searched online without any success, but hopefully someone on here might be able to recommend something.
    Thanks!

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    The Victor Book of Opera is always my favorite.
    It started me on my way and still enjoy reading it.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

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    A series that you might want to browse through on Amazon is called the Black Dog Opera Library.

    Just as you describe, the series is comprised of "book and CD combinations that are a good introduction to some of the most well known operas."

    You might consider either "Carmen" by Bizet, "The Magic Flute" by Mozart or "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart as your first choice.

    Another gift you might consider giving is an opera that has been made into a movie. On Amazon, under Movies, type in Carmen to find a DVD or Blu-ray version of a movie starring Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes. Another movie you might consider is "La Traviata" starring Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo.

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    Thanks for the quick replies, both of you. My plan B is to buy him a DVD, book and/or CD of a specific opera, but as I'm not yet sure what he likes/dislikes I'd prefer to get him something more general that would help him figure out what his taste in opera actually is (I think it will be very different to my taste, which is why I'm reluctant to choose a specific opera myself). I'll definitely save up the DVD idea or the Black Dog Opera Library books for his next birthday though, I hadn't heard of the books and having had a look on Amazon, they do look good.

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    A book that you might consider is entitled "Opera for Dummies," perhaps not the best title for gift giving, but it has short plot summaries for dozens and dozens of operas with an accompanying CD containing excerpts. The author is David Pogue. Perhaps this is what you had in mind.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    A really good starter is this: lots of well known arias, mainly from the 19th century, sung by excellent reputable singers, a sampler for him to see what he likes. I have it and can recommend.



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    Natalie

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    That collection above, accompanied by a general book on Opera, I think is a good suggestion. I understand that to give someone a copy of something like "Opera for dummies" can be a little bit dangerous, especially to one of your seniors...

    This book from András Batta is a safest bet at this regard, in my opinion.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schigolch View Post
    That collection above, accompanied by a general book on Opera, I think is a good suggestion. I understand that to give someone a copy of something like "Opera for dummies" can be a little bit dangerous, especially to one of your seniors...

    This book from András Batta is a safest bet at this regard, in my opinion.
    That's a really lovely book. A bit heavy to carry around in your briefcase, but beautiful.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    For those interested in opera (maybe not your stepdad), this is always a good bet: "The New Kobbe's Opera Book (Hardcover)" available used for as little as a dollar. All the operas, over a thousand pages. A heavyweight in every sense, the $3.99 shipping charge is a bargain for this one! When not listening to opera, you can use it for ballast in your boat. And if it's by the Earl of Harewood, it's gotta be good!

    http://www.amazon.com/New-Kobbes-Ope...obbe%27s+opera


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    A series that you might want to browse through on Amazon is called the Black Dog Opera Library.
    I just picked up the Black Dog Fidelio. It's nice because it gives some of the history of the opera, the libretto, 2 CDs of the whole opera (and a pretty good one too, conducted by Halasz) along with profiles of the singers.

    Another option is to get a DVD with English subtitles so you can better follow what is going on.

    There also is the Opera in English series, which has maybe a dozen operas. I have that in Fidelio and it is pretty good, but will never take first place for me because I like the original language version.
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    Senior Member deggial's Avatar
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    get him this:



    goes through some of the most played operas out there in a humorous manner. If he doesn't like anything he sees he will at least have a laugh

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    For a fairly thorough overview of reasonable length, A Short History of Opera is well-written and inclusive, and available in a kindle version if he happens to have a kindle.

    ShortHistoryOpera.jpg
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    Senior Member Hesoos's Avatar
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    Yes! There is a book and cd like you are looking for!!!

    Try this one.

    http://www.amazon.com/Opera-762-page.../dp/B00004YYRR

    oppp.jpg

    2 cd with famous arias from the Barroc to our days (almost all styles of opera in it, Monteverdi, Haendel, Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, Bel Canto, Verdi, Wagner, Bizet, Puccini, Verismo, 20 century...) and a little book with the plots of a lot of operas.

    I have it and still enjoy it. There are so many plots that I think this little book is as good for beginners like for professionals.
    1813 - 2013 Verdi and Wagner 200 years

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    Senior Member Don Fatale's Avatar
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    I remember when I embarked on my operatic hobby and received many pretty much worthless slim books ('beginners guide', blah blah) on opera.

    If choosing a book, I'd say get him something substantial, a keeper. Spending a sum will get the Viking Opera Guide, or Kobbe's, they can't possibly disappoint. Or a book on a single composer if he's expressed an opinion that way. Or music, just a nice CD set of a good opera recording.

    I recall a comedian doing a segment on the subtle difference between gifts and presents. The objective is to make it a present. All too often we find ourselves merely giving gifts.
    Last edited by Don Fatale; Dec-17-2013 at 00:20.

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    Thank you very much everyone - loads of great responses. At the moment I'm torn between the "Opera for Dummies" (he has a sense of humour and won't be at all offended by the title!) and the "A-Z of Opera". I think I'll try to find them in a bookshop so I can have a look and see which one I think will be the best for him.

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