B1793. Thomas Forrest Kelly. First Nights at the Opera. Yale University Press, 2004. 441pp. Index; Bibliography; Illus.; DJ in mylar. - 0-300-10044-2 9780300100440
"Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, opera was the grandest entertainment in Western culture. In First Nights at the Opera, the renowned music scholar Thomas Kelly narrates the social history of European opera during its golden age by taking us behind the scenes at the premiere performances of five extraordinary and influential operas: Handel’s Giulio Cesare (London, 1724), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Prague, 1787), Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots (Paris, 1836), Wagner’s Das Rheingold (Bayreuth, 1876), and Verdi’s Otello (Milan, 1887).
What was it like to be there, to see and hear and perform these operas for the very first time? Kelly takes us behind the curtains to introduce us to the nervous composers, the anxious impresarios, and the performers who had never sung these words to an audience before. Members of the audience, eager with expectation, take to their seats and boxes: What will appear on stage? Will someone miss a line? Will it be a triumph or a humiliation for the composer?
Richly illustrated and briskly narrated, this glittering introduction to the world of opera will delight aficionados and neophytes alike."
Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2006 by Choice Magazine.