Opera is often dismissed as outdated and excessive, and perceived to be characterised by excessive passions, sumptuous costumes, and ill-mannered divas. In reality, however, operas address the most fundamental and universal of human concerns - love, death, jealousy, greed, and power. Revealing the diverse reasons behind opera's lasting appeal, opera champion and expert Alexandra Wilson provides a lucid and engaging introduction to the agendas that have governed its composition, production and reception over the last four centuries, and explains the reasons behind its enduring appeal.
Alexandra Wilson is Senior Lecturer in Musicology at Oxford Brookes University. Passionate about bringing opera to a wider audience, she regularly presents broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, and is a reviewer for Opera magazine.
"Alexandra Wilson is a gifted writer and has packed a world of history, culture, and music into her new opera guide."
– Helen Greenwald - New England Conservatory
"In her admirably compact introduction to opera, Wilson outlines the history of this most ambitious of art forms, while going on to place opera in a broad social, political and cultural context… packed with richly resonant material"
– Daniel Snowman - Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, University of Londo
"As useful to students of opera as to the curious amateur, Alex Wilson’s ‘Beginner’s Guide’ makes a huge contribution to the popularisation of a ‘living art’ "
– Clair Rowden - Lecturer and Undergraduate Admissions Tutor, School of Music, Cardiff University