La Scala, Luciano Pavarotti,Sweeney Todd, Maria Callas,Le Nozze di Figaro. These are just a few of the more than 1000 profiles on musical figures, 700 entries on famous works, and 200 important locales found inThe Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Covering everything from composers, individual operas, well-known arias, and principle characters, to technical terms, librettists, and opera-houses, this is the most comprehensive one-volume reference work on all aspects of opera. Here opera buffs will have at their fingertips opera synopses and first performance details, bibliographies of works about opera, entries on singers (including their debuts and career highlights, with notes on voice type, style, and reputation), definitions and discussions of technical terms and operatic styles, and surveys of the history of opera worldwide. The editors include not only the basic information one would expect to find in an authoritative reference, but also many colorful asides that make browsing a pleasure. For example, we learn thatTristan und Isolde(Munich, 1865) was an outcome of Wagner's reading of Schopenhauer, how Verdi referred to the years between 1844 and 1859 (during which he was commissioned to write nineteen operas) as his "anni di galera" (his prison years), and how Toscanini resigned his directorship at La Scala over political tensions with the Fascists (he had previously refused to conduct the Fascist anthem at performances). In an entry on China, we learn that, unlike European opera, Chinese opera incorporates acrobatics (and often mime), and that before the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), there were over 300 regional styles of opera throughout the land. We even find an entry that lists the multitude of operas (over 300) that have been written based on Shakespeare's works. Other entries provide information on the different subdivisions of voice (from the soprano dramatique to the bariton-Martin), Russian Opera in Uzbekistan, and the definition of "Kravattentenor" (a tenor whose tone suggests he is being strangled by his neckwear). The Oxford Dictionary of Operacomes at a time when opera has reached unprecedented levels of popularity, enjoying well-filled opera houses, public television broadcasts, and huge record sales. Fully cross-referenced and packed with information, this tremendous reference is a must for all opera lovers.