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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. Enter the name of your opera and limit your search to "Review" (in Document Type).
Music Periodicals Database
Very similar in appearance to Proquest Newsstream, this database allows you to search beyond major newspapers and to find reviews in industry-specific publications. Begin with the Advanced Search option, then enter the name of your opera, finally, limit to "Review" (under Document Type). You may also consider limiting the language to English, as there are many foreign language publications included. *** INCLUDES OPERA NEWS ***
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.