B0854. Milton Cross. The New Complete Stories of the Great Operas. Revised, Enlarged Edition Edited by Karl Kohrs. Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1955. 688pp. Index. DJ. Hardboound. - 0385043244
“The first music reference books that I owned were by Milton Cross. Even now, with a shelf full of opera references, his COMPLETE STORIES OF THE GREAT OPERAS is the first book that I consult when I am looking for a well written, easily read, act by act synopsis of an opera. As an added bonus, Cross begins each opera write up with a paragraph which includes a few pertinent facts about the composer and the circumstances surrounding the writing of the particular opera.
In addition to the slightly more than seventy-five operas discussed, he has also included sections on how to enjoy an opera, a history of opera, and a discussion of ballet in opera.
As I do before attending a Shakesperean play, I find it helpful to prepare ahead of time by reading about the opera I am about to attend. Cross' book is fairly detailed, leading you through all the significant actions, and accompanying music, of each act in the order that they occur. I often supplement this reading with shorter, more succinct discussions in other references. There is a real value to owning multiple references on the same subject.
Included in this book are most of the operas that are in the normal reportoire of any contemporary opera company. Only the newer and/or experimental operas written in the latter part of the twentieth century are missing, and they are not often performed.
The last two sections of the book, one on the history of opera from the sixteenth century to the present, and the other on the use of ballet in opera, are more appropriately read than summarized. These sections are interesting and are readable on a stand alone basis.
The bulk of the book, exclusive of the last three sections, is a reference and is most useful for the purpose of preparing yourself for an opera performance that you are about to attend.
This is an invaluable reference and belongs on the shelf of any opera goer or potential opera goer.”
- Loren D. Morrison
“Announcer for Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts for 43 years, Milton Cross co-authored several books on music, MILTON CROSS' STORIES OF THE GREAT OPERAS and MILTON CROSS' MORE STORIES OF THE GREAT OPERAS, both with Karl Kohrs, and THE MILTON CROSS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS AND THEIR MUSIC with David Ewen. Both books were perennially popular, going through several editions over the years, but are out of print today. In the just over 43 years that Milton Cross served as announcer for the Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts, he only missed a broadcast twice, this right after his beloved wife Lillian's death in March of 1973.”
- Ned Ludd