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The Opera Lover's Companion
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The Opera Lover's Companion

Title: The Opera Lover's Companion
Author: Charles Osborne
Publisher: Yale
Dr. Johnson, in the eighteenth-century, took the idiosyncratic view that opera was 'an exotic and irrational entertainment'. Opera was certainly that at its inception more than a hundred years before Samuel Johnson's birth, when a group of noblemen in Florence, intent on reviving the drama of ancient Greece, encouraged into existence a new theatrical art form which combined words and music. In the very first opera, Dafne, composed by Jacopo Peri in 1597, although the entire text was sung the words took precedence over the music, not by intention but because the music for the most part followed the inflections of speech, only occasionally broadening into something approaching melody.
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