19 MAY 1923, Page 23

The National Opera Handbooks : Hansel and Gretel, The Marriage

of Figaro, The Seraglio, The Magic Flute. By A. Corbett.Smith. (Grant Richards. Is. net each.)

The return of the British National Opera Company to Covent Garden coincides with the appearance of four more of these useful small books, each describing in plain language the music and plot, flavoured with a dash of history, of the opera it concerns. The handbooks are meant to be read before attending a performance, and by their aid casual opera goers will understand the better all that they hear and see. The more usually performed operas of Mozart and many of Wagner's arc now published in this series. Major Corbett-Smith has (Continued on page 856.) an unfortunate bent for dedications. There is, indeed, some- thing ambiguous in the inscription upon the flyleaf of Hansel and Gretel :—" This handbook for Squirrels . . ."