The Book: 100 Great Operas and Their Stories: Act-by-Act Synopses by Henry W. Simon. Anchor trade paperback, reprinted 1989; originally published as Festival of Opera in 1957. Paper already shows age-related browning.
First read: 1999
Owned since: 1999
It seems appropriate to discuss this book today, given the news about Pavarotti's death. I was sure I owned a CD of his Pagliacci, but cannot find it. His "Vesti la Giubba" is a monument; listen to it sometime today.
When I lived in Washington and had disposable income, I had season tickets to the opera. I haven't been in years, and miss it. Mom was also a big fan, and took Kathy and me to the Virginia Opera when we were still in elementary school.
It's a shame that opera is so expensive, because the stories were their era's version of the "The Jerry Springer Show." Pagliacci, to give one example, is the story of a clown ("The clown who cries!", for you Seinfeld fans) who kills his faithless wife and her lover.
I bought this book to study for my Jeopardy! appearance. Yeah, I studied for Jeopardy!; what's the point of doing something like that if you don't try to win? As it happens, I'd have been better off spending more time with the atlas and a medical dictionary, but I still have this book on my reference shelf, and it still comes in handy once in a while.