Michael Ewans explores how classical Greek tragedy and epic poetry have been appropriated in opera, through eight selected case studies. These range from Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, drawn from Homer's Odyssey, to Mark-Antony Turnage's Greek, based on Sophocles's Oedipus the King. Choices have been based on an understanding that the relationship between each of the operas and their Greek source texts raise significant issues, involving an examination of the process by which the librettist creates a new text for the opera, and the crucial insights into the nature of the drama that are bestowed by the composer's musical setting. Ewans examines the issues through a comparative analysis of significant divergences of plot, character and dramatic strategy between source text, libretto and opera.
’[Michael Ewans's] book seems to me to be, in literary and musical terms, a very well-judged and sensitive treatment of a fascinating subject… it has a great deal to offer anyone interested in Greek tragedy… full of fascinating accounts…’ The Journal of Classics Teaching ’… Ewans marshals meticulous foreground detail to animate his background themes.’ Opera ’Ewans's take on these operas and their literary "lineage" is enlightening… Opera from the Greek is a pithy (200-page) tour of music-drama. The number of ideas introduced in this brief book, and the degree to which Ewans explores so many so deeply will startle and excite anyone interested in opera, even operas quite different from those discussed here.’ Opera Today ’The clarity of the writing style, the in-depth insight into the operas, complete with musical examples, and the erudite analysis of the relationship between opera and source material all make this a valuable resource for music researchers, students of opera, and also for those general readers interested in the development of opera as it relates to classical Greek epics and theatrical forms.’ Studies in Musical Theatre ’Opera from the Greek has many strengths. The focus is clear, the choice of operas good, the research solid, the bibliography of primary and secondary sources and recommended recordings excellent. Most important, throughout there are strong, exciting readings and ideas, both about the individual works and the connections between them … The book's single most important contribution is the discussions of the music … Again and again Ewans provides vivid analyses of the dramatic impact of musical passages.’ Bryn Mawr Classical Review ’The book […] succeeds in addressing opera’s lasting fascination with the myths and narratives of the ancient world. … Ewans’s volume provides much useful information on the original sources for each opera, and the way such features are manifested (or not) in sel
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria; Iphigénie en Tauride; Médée; Elektra; Oedipe; King Priam; The Bassarids; Greek; Endnote; Bibliography: Index.