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While reviews of older musical performances might be found in books, more recent performances are likely to be found in more current magazines and newspapers.
Consider the unique components of a musical performance that you might need to focus on:
- Name of the opera
- Location: city, country, venue
- Performers: opera company, conductor, artists
For instance, if you search for a production of Turandot, you might find reviews from multiple performances... in multiple cities... over decades... with various artists.
Narrow your search slowly, using the most important components first, then adding less important ones as necessary.
Reviews can be easily located through a few of our Library databases: Proquest Newstream and Music Periodicals Database.
Both databases have a similar look and feel, but the content they cover will be slightly different.
- Make sure you are using the Advanced Search option before you begin.
- Enter the name of the opera in the first search field at the top of the page.
- Scroll down toward the bottom of the page and look for the section labeled Document Type. Place a check by 'Review'.
- Music Periodicals Database: Limit to English, if you wish (there are a lot of non-English publications).
Full-text access to newspapers and other news media from the United States, Canada, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. Important titles include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Times (London), The Bangkok Post, El Norte, Financial Times, The Guardian, Jerusalem Post, South China Morning Post, The Daily Telegraph, Asian Wall Street Journal, and the BBC Monitoring series of publications, plus many other major news publications.
Music Periodicals Database
Bibliographic database containing over 1.3 million citation records for articles from more than 425 international music periodicals, with full-text access for selected titles. The majority of citation records date from 1996 to the present, with approximately 200,000 records covering the period from 1874 to 1995. The database covers a comprehensive range of subject areas in both scholarly and popular music journals. Articles examine the full spectrum of subjects and all aspects of music, including music education, performance, ethnomusicology, musical theater, theory, popular music forms and composition. Articles cover a diverse array of musical genres, from the liturgical chants of medieval monks to the eclectic sounds of contemporary alternative rock musicians. Updated monthly. [1874 - Present]
PQ Newsstream: major newspapers - mostly live performances
Music Periodicals: music industry
Finding information on contemporary singers will be more difficult than for those who are more established.
These individuals may still be making their mark on the music scene, and little may be written about them outside of performance reviews and web articles.
Putting together a biographical sketch of contemporary artists is very similar to finding performance reviews! Instead of beginning your search with the name of an opera, start with the performer's name!
You may still need to narrow your search with other identifiable information, such as voice part or a specific role to get on the right track.