Jessye Norman is one of the world’s most admired and beloved singers—and her life story is as moving and dramatic as the great operatic roles she has performed on stage.
Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, she studied the piano and sang the songs of her childhood, never dreaming that this passion for music might lead to her life’s profession. Here she presents “a rich portrait of a childhood firmly grounded by family, church and community,” and recalls in rich detail the strong women who were her role models, from her ancestors to family friends, relatives, and teachers (The Wall Street Journal). She also discusses her relationship with the pioneering African American singer Marian Anderson—revealing the lifelong support she provided through her example of dignity and grace at all times.
Norman also describes coming face-to-face with racism, both as a child living in the segregated South and as an adult out and about in the world. Filled with inspiration and wisdom, Stand Up Straight and Sing! is not just for lovers of music, but for everyone.
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Book
A Publishers Weekly Book of the Year
As seen on CBS This Morning, NPR's Fresh Air, and People Magazine
A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Library Journal Nonfiction Pick of September
The New York Times bestseller about a young black man's journey from violence and despair to the threshold of stardom. "A beautiful tribute to the power of good teachers."--Terry Gross, Fresh Air
"One of the most inspiring stories I've come across in a long time."--Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review
Ryan Speedo Green had a tough upbringing in southeastern Virginia: his family lived in a trailer park and later a bullet-riddled house across the street from drug dealers. His father was absent; his mother was volatile and abusive.
At the age of twelve, Ryan was sent to Virginia's juvenile facility of last resort. He was placed in solitary confinement. He was uncontrollable, uncontainable, with little hope for the future.
In 2011, at the age of twenty-four, Ryan won a nationwide competition hosted by New York's Metropolitan Opera, beating out 1,200 other talented singers. Today, he is a rising star performing major roles at the Met and Europe's most prestigious opera houses.
SING FOR YOUR LIFE chronicles Ryan's suspenseful, racially charged and artistically intricate journey from solitary confinement to stardom. Daniel Bergner takes readers on Ryan's path toward redemption, introducing us to a cast of memorable characters--including the two teachers from his childhood who redirect his rage into music, and his long-lost father who finally reappears to hear Ryan sing. Bergner illuminates all that it takes--technically, creatively--to find and foster the beauty of the human voice. And Sing for Your Life sheds unique light on the enduring and complex realities of race in America.
Before portraying Wagner's "Ring," Arthur Rackham (1867–1939) had become England's leading illustrator through his interpretations of fairy and fantastic books: Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rip van Winkle, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, A Midsummer-Night's Dream. With his insight into elves, twisted oaks, and bearded heroes, Wagner was the logical step: with the "Ring," Rackham brought his talent for ethereal watercolor and line into new realms of adult mythology.
This edition reproduces, in full color, all 64 watercolor illustrations from Siegfried & The Twilight of the Gods (1911) and The Rhinegold & The Valkyrie (1912). The original English and American editions also contained black-and-white vignettes and tailpieces, a selection of which appear here: the original text, a dated English translation of the libretto, has been replaced by comprehensive descriptive captions and an introduction by James Spero.
Rackham poured all his mature fancy into the "Ring." The gnarled Nibelung Alberich sports with teasing Rhinemaidens, fiery Loge and lordly Wotan tussle with giants and serpents. An ecstatic Brünnhilde is finally consumed on Siegfried's funeral pyre in perhaps the most successful representation of this scene anywhere, either graphically or theatrically. Wagner's Teutonic forests and caves give Rackham free reign for his brooding, haunting nature backgrounds; characters, costumes, and all the tiny details are painted with such textual accuracy and empathy that today's opera companies who wish to return to staging the "Ring" in the traditional manner turn to Rackham's paintings for guidance.
The painstaking reproduction of these artworks brings Arthur Rackham's most heroic visions to the many collectors and admirers who cannot obtain the expensive out-of-print editions. With the aid of the clear captions, the Wagnerian cycle may be followed once again in its most time-honored and rich interpretation.
The Flying Dutchman
Tristan and Isolde
The Mastersingers of Nuremberg
The Nibelung’s Ring
The Twilight of the Gods
Newman’s complete grasp of his is clear at every turn, as are his wit and sheer writing ability. He lards his treatment of the stories, texts, and music of the operas and music dramas with biographical and historical materials acquired in the process of completing his numerous book on Wagner the man, including the magisterial Life of Richard Wagner, of which the fourth and final volume was published in 1946.
The second daughter of Greek immigrant parents, Maria found herself in the grasp of an overwhelmingly ambitious mother who took her away from her native New York and the father she loved, to a Greece on the eve of the Second World War. From there, we learn of the hardships, loves and triumphs Maria experienced in her professional and personal life. We are introduced to the men who marked Callas forever—Luchino Visconti, the brilliant homosexual director who she loved hopelessly, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, the husband thirty years her senior who used her for his own ambitions, as had her mother, and Aristotle Onassis, who put an end to their historic love affair by discarding her for the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. Throughout her life, Callas waged a constant battle with her weight, a battle she eventually won, transforming herself from an ugly duckling into the slim and glamorous diva who transformed opera forever, whose recordings are legend, and whose life is the stuff of which tabloids are made.
Anne Edwards goes deeper than previous biographies of Maria Callas have dared. She draws upon intensive research to refute the story of Callas's "mystery child" by Onassis, and she reveals the true circumstances of the years preceding Callas's death, including the deception perpetrated by her close and trusted friend. As in her portraits of other brilliant, star-crossed women, Edwards brings Maria Callas—the intimate Callas—alive.
This book continues the work Martial Singher has done, in performances, in concerts, and in master classes and lessons, by drawing attention “not only to precise features of text, notes, and markings but also to psychological motivations and emotional impulses, to laughter and tears, to technical skills, to strokes of genius, and even here and there to variations from the original works that have proved to be fortunate.”
For each aria, the author gives the dramatic and musical context, advice about interpretation, and the lyric—with the original language (if it is not English) and an idiomatic American English translation, in parallel columns. The major operatic traditions—French, German, Italian, Russian, and American—are represented, as are the major voice types—soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, and bass.
The dramatic context is not a mere summary of the plot but is a penetrating and often witty personality sketch of an operatic character in the midst of a situation. The musical context is presented with the dramatic situation in a cleverly integrated way. Suggestions about interpretation, often illustrated with musical notation and phonetic symbols, are interspersed among the author's explication of the music and the action. An overview of Martial Singher’s approach—based on fifty years of experience on stage in a hundred roles and in class at four leading conservatories—is presented in his Introduction. As the reader approaches each opera discussed in this book, he or she experiences the feeling of participation in a rehearsal on stage under an urbane though demanding coach and director.
The Interpretive Guide will be of value to professional singers as a source of reference or renewed inspiration and a memory refresher, to coaches for checking and broadening personal impressions, to young singers and students for learning, to teachers who have enjoyed less than a half century of experience, and to opera broadcast listeners and telecast viewers who want to understand what goes into the sounds and sights that delight them.
Opera lovers are an intense lot, Claudio E. Benzecry discovers in his look at the fanatics who haunt the legendary Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires, a key site for opera’s globalization. Listening to the fans and their stories, Benzecry hears of two-hundred-mile trips for performances and nightlong camp-outs for tickets, while others testify to a particular opera’s power to move them—whether to song or to tears—no matter how many times they have seen it before. Drawing on his insightful analysis of these acts of love, Benzecry proposes new ways of thinking about people’s relationship to art and shows how, far from merely enhancing aspects of everyday life, art allows us to transcend it.
The scale and grandeur of Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung has no precedent and no successor. It preoccupied Wagner for much of his adult life and revolutionized the nature of opera, the orchestra, the demands on singers and on the audience itself. The four operas-The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried and Twilight of the Gods - are complete worlds, conjuring up extraordinary mythological landscapes through sound as much as staging.
Wagner wrote the entire libretto before embarking on the music. Discarding the grand choruses and bravura duets central to most operas, he used the largest musical forces in the context often of only a handful of singers on stage. The words were essential: he was telling a story and making an argument in a way that required absolute attention to what was said. The libretto for The Ring lies at the heart of nineteenth century culture. It is in itself a work of power and grandeur and it had an incalculable effect on European and specifically German culture. John Deathridge's superb new translation, with notes and a fascinating introduction, is essential for anyone who wishes to get to grips with one of the great musical experiences.
But his tremendous success was derailed by his self-destructive lifestyle, and by age thirty-eight he was dead, with his extraordinary promise left unfulfilled.
Newly revised and updated for its first U.S. edition, Mario Lanza: Singing to the Gods is the definitive account of the remarkable life and times of one of the twentieth century's most beloved singing stars. This richly detailed work also contains a selection of rare photographs, several of which are drawn from Lanza's estate.
With the support of Lanza's daughter, Ellisa Lanza Bregman, the tenor's colleagues, and his closest friend, Terry Robinson, Derek Mannering has chronicled a fascinating and unforgettable life. From the fabulous successes of the early MGM years through the disastrous walkouts and cancellations that sent Lanza's career into freefall, Mannering objectively and movingly reveals the story of a great star torn apart by his own troubled psyche and undisciplined lifestyle.
William Berger is the most helpful guide one could hope to find for navigating the strange and beautiful world of the most controversial artist who ever lived. He tells you all you need to know to become a true Wagnerite--from story lines to historical background; from when to visit the rest room to how to sound smart during intermission; from the Jewish legend that possibly inspired Lohengrin to the tragic death of the first Tristan. Funny, informative, and always a pleasure to read, Wagner Without Fear proves that the art of Wagner can be accessible to everyone.
- The strange life of Richard Wagner--German patriot (and exile), friend (and enemy) of Liszt and Nietzsche
- Essential opera lore and "lobby talk"
- A scene-by-scene analysis of each opera
- What to listen for to get the most from the music
- Recommended recordings, films, and sound tracks
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The translation is accompanied by Stewart Spencer's introductory essay on the libretto and a series of specially commissioned texts by Barry Millington, Roger Hollinrake, Elizabeth Magee and Warren Darcy that discuss the cycle's musical structure, philosophical implications, medieval sources and Wagner's own changing attitude to its meaning. With a glossary of names, a review of audio and video recordings, and a select bibliography, the book is an essential complement to Wagner's great epic.
Whether you're a curious neophyte, a music lover interested in branching out, or an aficionado eager to compare notes with a brilliant fellow opera buff, you'll prize Ticket to the Opera as an essential volume in your music library.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With an encyclopedic knowledge of opera and a delightful dash of irreverence, Sir Denis Forman throws open the world of opera—its structure, composers, conductors, and artists—in this hugely informative guide. A Night at the Opera dissects the eighty-three most popular operas recorded on compact disc, from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur to Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. For each opera, Sir Denis details the plot and cast of characters, awarding stars to parts that are “worth looking out for,” “really good,” or, occasionally, “stunning.” He goes on to tell the history of each opera and its early reception. Finally, each work is graded from alpha to gamma (although the Ring cycle gets an “X”), and Sir Denis has no qualms about voicing his opinion: the first act of Fidelio is “a bit of a mess,” while the last scene of Don Giovanni “towers above the comic finales of Figaro and Così and whether or not [it] is Mozart's greatest opera, it is certainly his most powerful finale.”
The guide also presents brief biographies of the great composers, conductors, and singers. A glossary of musical terms is included, as well as Operatica, or the essential elements of opera, from the proper place and style of the audience's applause (and boos) to the use of subtitles.
A Night at the Opera is for connoisseurs and neophytes alike. It will entertain and inform, delight and (perhaps) infuriate, providing a subject for lively debate and ready reference for years to come.
Lister focuses on the attributes of a light opera performer, light opera singing style, historical references, audition advice, directing insights, extensive repertoire recommendations Singing professionals, teachers, students, conductors, stage directors, coaches, and choreographers will find this book to be an ideal resource for the style.
The So You Want to Sing series is produced in partnership with the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Like all books in the series, So You Want to Sing Light Opera features online supplemental material on the NATS website. Please visit www.nats.org to access style-specific exercises, audio and video files, and additional resources.
Fiedler chronicles the Met’s early days as a home for legends like Toscanini, Mahler, and Caruso, and gives a fascinating account of the middle years when haughty blue-bloods battled stubborn adminstrators for control of a company that would emerge as America’s premiere opera house. She takes us behind the grand gold-curtain stage in more recent years as well, showing how musical superstars like Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and Kathleen Battle have electrified performances and scandalized the public. But most revelatory are Fiedler’s portrayals of James Levine and Joseph Volpe and their practically parallel ascendancies—Levine rising from prodigy to artistic director, Volpe advancing from stagehand to general manager—and their once strained relationship. Weaving together the personal, economic, and artistic struggles that characterize the Met’s long and vibrant history, Molto Agitato is a must-read saga of power, wealth, and, above all, great music.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In Verdi's Shakespeare, Pulitzer Prize winner and lifelong opera devotee Garry Wills explores the writing and staging of Verdi's three triumphant Shakespearian operas: Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff. An Italian composer who couldn't read a word of English but adored Shakespeare, Verdi devoted himself to operatic productions that authentically incorporated the playwright's texts. Wills delves into the fast-paced worlds of these men of the theater, focusing on the intense working relationships both Shakespeare and Verdi had with the performers and producers of their works. We see Verdi study the Shakespearean dramaturgy as he obsessively corresponds with his chosen librettists, handpicks the singers he feels are best- suited to the roles, and coaches them intensely.
With fascinating portraits of these artistic giants and their entourages, sharp insights into music and theater, and telling historical details, Verdi's Shakespeare re-creates the conditions that allowed Verdi to complete his masterworks and illuminates the very nature of artistic creation.
Brown-Montesano views each character as the subject of a story, not merely the object of a hero’s narrative or the stock figure of convention. From amiable Zerlina, to the awesome Queen of the Night, to calculating Despina, all of Mozart’s women have something unique to say. These readings also tackle provocative social, political, and cultural issues, which are used in the operas to define positive and negative images of femininity: revenge, power, seduction, resistance, autonomy, sacrifice, faithfulness, class, maternity, and sisterhood. Keenly aware of the historical gap between the origins of these works and contemporary culture, Brown-Montesano discusses how attitudes about such concepts—past and current—influence our appreciation of these fascinating representations of women.
In this witty and informative guide for beginners and fans alike, William Berger sets the record straight, reclaiming Puccini as a serious artist. Combining his trademark irreverent humor with passionate enthusiasm, Berger strikes just the right balance of introductory information and thought-provoking analysis. He includes a biography, discussions of each opera, a glossary, fun facts and anecdotes, and above all keen insight into Puccini’s enduring power. For anyone who loves Puccini and for anyone who just wonders what all the fuss is about, Puccini Without Excuses is funny, challenging, and always a pleasure to read.
_ Why Puccini’s art and its message of hope is crucial to our world today
_ How Anglo audiences often miss the mythic significance of his operas
_ The use of his music as shorthand in films, from A Room with a View to Fatal Attraction
_ A scene-by scene analysis of each opera
_ A guide to the wealth of available recordings, books, and videos
The History of Opera For Beginners is an ideal introduction for people who are convinced that opera is solely for those refined few who were born listening to arias. Written in short, humorous, and informative chapters, and laced with some of the opera world's juiciest anecdotes, this guide is sure to convert even the most ambivalent of music lovers.
In the second edition of English and German Diction for Singers, Amanda Johnston continues her comparative, modernized approach to lyric diction. This comprehensive resource offers a thorough analysis of the German and English languages and includes extensive oral drills, word lists, tables, charts, musical examples, and even tongue twisters. Unique to this publication is the illustration of the rhythmic timing and release of consonants within the International Phonetic Alphabet transcriptions in all musical examples.
This book is designed for both undergraduate and graduate courses in German and English lyric diction and is an invaluable resource for classical singers, vocal coaches, and voice teachers alike.
Improvements to the second edition include:
An online workbook that includes extensive written exercises suitable for classroom or independent useChapter-by-chapter video clips that demonstrate the concepts addressed in the text Expanded chapters address the schwa, the treatment of monosyllabic incidental words, the use of R, and the correct formation of the elusive upsilon and extended epsilonConsideration of loan words and stressed vs. unstressed closed German vowelsIntegrated practice drills for mastering challenging and unfamiliar phonemesEnlarged musical examples show the rhythmic timing and release of voiced and voiceless consonantsAn expanded appendix on suggested repertoire for diction studyInclusion of specific diction choices suitable for musical theatre repertoireExpanded discussion of healthy glottal onsets, including the concept of junctureUse of the latest resources, namely Deutsche Rechtschreibung (2014) and Cambridge Pronouncing Dictionary, 18th edition (2011)For all users, there is a WORKBOOK. Access the workbook here.The ANSWER KEY is available for instructors. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The star of the Metropolitan Opera's recent revival of Dvorak's Rusalka, soprano Renée Fleming brings a consummately beautiful voice, striking interpretive talents, and compelling artistry to bear on performances that have captivated audiences in opera houses and recital halls throughout the world. In The Inner Voice—a book that is the story of her own artistic development and the “autobiography” of her voice—this great performer presents a unique and privileged look at the making of a singer and offers hard-won, practical advice to aspiring performance artists everywhere. From her youth as the child of two singing teachers through her years at Juilliard, from her struggles to establish her career to her international success, The Inner Voice is a luminous, articulate, and candid self-portrait of a contemporary artist—and the most revelatory examination yet of the performing life.
Because opera was new in the seventeenth century, the composers (most notably Monteverdi and Cavalli), librettists, impresarios, singers, and designers were especially aware of dealing with aesthetic issues as they worked. Rosand examines critically for the first time the voluminous literary and musical documentation left by the Venetian makers of opera. She determines how these pioneers viewed their art and explains the mechanics of the proliferation of opera, within only four decades, to stages across Europe. Rosand isolates two features of particular importance to this proliferation: the emergence of conventions—musical, dramatic, practical—that facilitated replication; and the acute self-consciousness of the creators who, in their scores, librettos, letters, and other documents, have left us a running commentary on the origins of a genre.
In October 2013, the arts world was rocked by the news that the New York City Opera—“the people’s opera”—had finally succumbed to financial hardship after 70 years in operation. The company had been a fixture on the national opera scene—as the populist antithesis of the grand Metropolitan Opera, a nurturing home for young American talent, and a place where new, lively ideas shook up a venerable art form. But NYCO’s demise represented more than the loss of a cherished organization: it was a harbinger of massive upheaval in the performing arts—and a warning about how cultural institutions would need to change in order to survive.
Drawing on extensive research and reporting, Heidi Waleson, one of the foremost American opera critics, recounts the history of this scrappy company and reveals how, from the beginning, it precariously balanced an ambitious artistic program on fragile financial supports. Waleson also looks forward and considers some better-managed, more visionary opera companies that have taken City Opera’s lessons to heart.
Above all, Mad Scenes and Exit Arias is a story of money, ego, changes in institutional identity, competing forces of populism and elitism, and the ongoing debate about the role of the arts in society. It serves as a detailed case study not only for an American arts organization, but also for the sustainability and management of nonprofit organizations across the country.
Janáček Opera Libretti series (Příhody lišky Bystroušky, The Cunning Little Vixen and Kát’a Kabanová), this volume consists of two parts. Part One gives background on the opera, a discussion about the various voice types and roles, Janáček’s style and Czech performance traditions, Czech folk costumes, and a summary of Czech pronunciation and inflection. Part Two provides the original Czech libretto, word-for-word English translations, idiomatic English translations, IPA for pronunciation of the Czech, translations of the stage directions, and notes about certain words in Czech dialect.
As a valuable resource not only for performers and directors, but also historians and opera lovers, this book brings new accessibility to a beloved and timeless opera.
The King and I is the story of the thirty-six-year-old business relationship between Luciano Pavarotti and his manager, Herbert Breslin, during which Breslin guided what he calls, justifiably, “the greatest career in classical music.” During that career, Breslin moved Pavarotti out of the opera house and onto the concert (and the world) stage and into the arms of a huge mass public. How he and Pavarotti changed the landscape of opera is one of the most significant and entertaining stories in the history of classical music, and Herbert Breslin relates the tale in a brash, candid, witty fashion that is often bitingly frank and profane. He also provides a portrait of his friend and client—“a beautiful, simple, lovely guy who turned into a very determined, aggressive, and somewhat unhappy superstar”—that is by turns affectionate and satirical and full of hilarious details and tales out of school, with Pavarotti emerging as something like the ultimate Italian male. The book is also enlivened by the voices of other players in the soap opera drama that was Pavarotti’s career, and they are no less uncensored than Herbert Breslin. The last word, in fact, comes from none other than Luciano Pavarotti himself!
The King and I is the ultimate backstage book about the greatest opera star of the past century—and it’s a delight to read as well.