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Most popular at the top

  • 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...

  • Puccini's Toscaby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2013; US$ 2.99

    Tosca’s première in Rome in January 1900 was nearly disrupted by a terrorist threat to blow up Italy’s King Umberto. Victorien Sardou had written the melodrama for the great actress Sarah Bernhardt. Giacomo Puccini’s popular opera is a tale of sadism and brutality, torture, attempted rape, murder, an execution and two suicides. ‘Realism’ was in vogue:... 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...

  • Tchaikovskyby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2014; US$ 1.99

    Welcome to The Independent’s new ebook series The Great Composers, covering fourteen of the giants of Western classical music. Extracted from Michael Steen’s book The Lives and Times of the Great Composers, these concise guides, selected by The Independent’s editorial team, explore the lives of composers as diverse as Mozart and Puccini, reaching from... 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...

  • Rossini's The Barber of Sevilleby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2013; US$ 2.99

    The première in 1816 in Rome of Gioachino Rossini’s famous opera was a fiasco comparable to those of Wagner’s Tannhäuser and Bizet’s Carmen. But Il barbiere di Siviglia was soon recognised as being among the greatest of comic operas, comparable to those of Mozart. Even Beethoven was enthusiastic.Figaro, Seville’s barber, is confident of a good pay-off... 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...

  • Verdi's Rigolettoby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2013; US$ 2.99

    From the première of Rigoletto at Venice’s La Fenice in 1851, the Duke’s La donna è mobile caught on with the public and has done much to ensure the ongoing popularity of Verdi’s opera about the body in the sack. Rigoletto, the sarcastic court jester, is cursed by a nobleman who he has mocked. Subsequent events see the curse realised, as Rigoletto’s... more...

  • Wagnerby Michael Steen

    Icon Books Ltd 2014; US$ 1.99

    Welcome to The Independent’s new ebook series The Great Composers, covering fourteen of the giants of Western classical music. Extracted from Michael Steen’s book The Lives and Times of the Great Composers, these concise guides, selected by The Independent’s editorial team, explore the lives of composers as diverse as Mozart and Puccini, reaching from... 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...