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Most popular at the top

  • The Lives and Times of the Great Composersby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2011; US$ 14.99

    A guide to the biographical backgrounds of classical music's biggest names. It helps you explore the story of Bach, the respectable burgher much of whose vast output was composed amidst petty turf disputes in Lutheran Leipzig, and the ugly, argumentative Beethoven in French-occupied Vienna, obsessed by his laundry. more...

  • Rossini’s La Cenerentolaby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    Rossini’s La Cenerentola (or Cinderella) is one of the most popular comic operas in the classical repertoire – the timeless fairy tale about the triumph of virtue over snobbery. Its first performance at Rome’s Teatro Valle in January 1817 – when the composer was not yet 25 – was the customary fiasco. More recently, audiences have laughed at Rossini’s... more...

  • Puccini’s La Bohèmeby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    Puccini’s obsession with detail ensured the success of La Bohème, his opera about the impoverished ‘artistes’ in Paris in the 1830s. Soon after its première, people started calling their baby daughters Mimi. The story of this seamstress, her hectic but fraught love affair with the poet Rodolfo and her tragic death from consumption (tuberculosis), never... more...

  • Mozart’s Don Giovanniby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    With a wealth of famous tunes and meticulous characterisation, Don Giovanni is an undisputed masterpiece created by Mozart out of a thread-bare fairground gig. The Don – for whom both sexes have a sneaking admiration – gatecrashes proceedings, serenading and seducing as he goes. As wily as he is insatiable, he outclasses all who are out to get him,... more...

  • Puccini’s Madama Butterflyby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    Butterfly is a delicate and impressionable geisha who thinks she has married Pinkerton, a US naval officer briefly stationed in Japan. Naive and loving as she is, she does not realise that for him the marriage is a sham, an extended 'date'. It’s not long before he goes away, leaving her pregnant. Still, she trusts that he will return one fine day (Un... more...

  • Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoorby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    Sir Walter Scott’s story of a Scottish girl forced by her family into an arranged marriage still resonates today, two centuries after it was published. Donizetti’s opera, which premièred in Naples in 1835, is famous particularly for the Mad Scene when Lucia, after leaving for her nuptials, reappears having murdered the man she has just married, the... more...

  • Mozart's Così Fan Tutteby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    A couple of smooth army officers in metropolitan Naples become increasingly horrified as they find that they are losing their bet with a misogynist philosopher. The wager? That their fiancées will be faithful. Their disguise as Albanians in an attempt to entrap their fiancées, and the complicity of the naughty maid, who feigns as a lawyer organising... more...

  • Mozart's Marriage of Figaroby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    Although the story of Figaro’s success in preventing the Count of Almaviva’s seduction of his fiancée Susanna was politically explosive, it was tolerated in the court of the relatively enlightened Habsburg Emperor Joseph II. Mozart’s opera, Le Nozze di Figaro, uses a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, and was premièred in Vienna in 1786.  It was based on... more...

  • Tchaikovsky's Eugene Oneginby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 2.99

    The great Russian poet Pushkin’s novel in verse tells the story of Tatyana, a love-struck country girl who unwisely wrote to the arrogant city-slicker Yevgeny Onegin professing her love. The tale resonated with Tchaikovsky when he found himself callously dismissing the suit of a student who similarly approached him out of the blue: within weeks, Tchaikovsky... more...

  • Great Operasby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2012; US$ 11.99

    Michael Steen, author of the acclaimed The Lives and Times of the Great Composers , provides a compendium of self-standing short guides to 25 of the world’s greatest and most popular operas. more...