Divas and Scholars is a dazzling and beguiling account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with Philip Gossett’s personal experiences of triumphant—and even failed—performances and suffused with his towering and tonic passion for music. Writing as a fan, a musician, and a scholar, Gossett, the world's leading authority on the performance of Italian opera, brings colorfully to life the problems, and occasionally the scandals, that attend the production of some of our most favorite operas.
Gossett begins by tracing the social history of nineteenth-century Italian theaters in order to explain the nature of the musical scores from which performers have long worked. He then illuminates the often hidden but crucial negotiations opera scholars and opera conductors and performers: What does it mean to talk about performing from a critical edition? How does one determine what music to perform when multiple versions of an opera exist? What are the implications of omitting passages from an opera in a performance? In addition to vexing questions such as these, Gossett also tackles issues of ornamentation and transposition in vocal style, the matters of translation and adaptation, and even aspects of stage direction and set design.
Throughout this extensive and passionate work, Gossett enlivens his history with reports from his own experiences with major opera companies at venues ranging from the Metropolitan and Santa Fe operas to the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro. The result is a book that will enthrall both aficionados of Italian opera and newcomers seeking a reliable introduction to it—in all its incomparable grandeur and timeless allure.
In Stand Up Straight and Sing!, Jessye Norman recalls in rich detail the strong women who were her role models, from her ancestors to family friends, relatives, and teachers. She hails the importance of her parents in her early learning and experiences in the arts. And she describes coming face-to-face with racism, not just as a child living in the segregated South but also as an adult out and about in the world.
She speaks of the many who have inspired her and taught her essential life lessons. A special interlude on her key relationship with the pioneering African American singer Marian Anderson reveals the lifelong support that this great predecessor provided through her example of dignity and grace at all times.
Parsifal, the epic, final opera by Richard Wagner, stunned audiences and set the stage for the decline of modern civilization. For more than one hundred years, Parsifal has been one of the most controversial dramatic works in the world, not only moving the world's top composers and writers to tears and inspiring generations of creative geniuses, but it was also admired by Adolf Hitler.
Wagner's retelling of the myth of the Holy Grail and the knights who protect it showed the secret path to liberation from suffering, but no one understood it. Wagner himself never explained Parsifal, and in his wake thousands of writers, critics, and artists have attempted to penetrate its mysteries yet have failed, since they were not initiated into the secret tradition it came from. Finally, in this book by Samael Aun Weor, the meaning of Parsifal is fully revealed, and the genius and spiritual accomplishments of Richard Wagner are made radiantly clear.
"The year 1914 will always be a memorable date among the remarkable dates of this humanity, because of the explosion of the First World War and the simultaneous debut of Parsifal in all the civilized world." - Samael Aun Weor
• A complete exposure of the spiritual archetypes hidden in Parsifal, with examples from other religions and mythologies
• Detailed instructions for sexual transmutation, including postures and mantras
• Includes the complete libretto of Parsifal
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.
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.
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.
Recognized the world over for his distinct voice and timeless hits spanning a career of nearly half a century, Charlie Wilson is one of the most celebrated musicians of his generation. So it took friends and family by surprise when he checked into rehab and revealed that he had been not only homeless, but also helpless.
Here is the riveting story of how love and faith carried him through not only his addiction, but also prostate cancer. Here, too, is the story of his work in the music business, including a career resurgence that saw collaborations with some of the most sought-after artists of today, including Pharrell and Justin Timberlake.
Now over twenty years sober, Wilson recounts a life filled with vertiginous highs and heartbreaking lows. His is a story of triumph over adversity, courage in the face of extreme hardship, and love when all else is lost. It is a tale of the last sixty years in social and pop culture history, and one that will stay with you for years to come.
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.
Drawing on a select, but highly representative, group of compositions from Tchaikovsky’s vast output, from his groundbreaking ballet Swan Lake to his great opera Eugene Onegin, Experiencing Tchaikovsky: A Listener’s Companion offers in-depth explorations without technical jargon. In addition to looking at his ballets and some of his operas, Schroeder probes the many other genres in which Tchaikovsky worked, from his chamber music pieces and symphonies to his other orchestral works and concertos. Throughout, Schroeder draws connections among the works, painting a fuller, more coherent picture of Tchaikovsky through his thematic interests, musical techniques, sonic signatures, and literary and cultural focuses. For context, Schroeder describes the works of personal significance for the composer through such contemporary literature as Tchaikovsky’s letters to Nadezhda von Meck, the wealthy patroness whom he never met.
Experiencing Tchaikovsky: A Listener’s Companion is for anyone who left a ballet performance whistling themes from Swan Lake or humming melodies from The Nutcracker. It is the ideal work for concertgoers, music students, opera buffs, ballet enthusiasts, and anyone who appreciates this musical master.
Blessed with a beautiful voice, Praskovia began her training in Nicholas’s operatic company as a young girl. Like all the members of Nicholas’s troupe, Praskovia was one of his own serfs. But unlike the others, she utterly captured her master’s heart. The book reconstructs Praskovia’s stage career as "The Pearl” and the heartbreaking details of her romance with Nicholas--years of torment before their secret marriage, the outrage of the aristocracy when news of the marriage emerged, Praskovia’s death only days after delivering a son, and the unyielding despair that followed Nicholas to the end of his life. Written with grace and style, The Pearl sheds light on the world of the Russian aristocracy, music history, and Russian attitudes toward serfdom. But above all, the book tells a haunting story of love against all odds.
My Life with Wagner chronicles his ardent personal and professional engagement with the great composer, whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood. Thielemann retraces his journey around the world with Wagner—from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg, and Chicago—and combines his analysis with revealing insights drawn from his many years of experience as a Wagner conductor.
Thielemann discusses each of Wagner's operas in turn, and his appraisal is illuminated by a deep affinity for the music, an intimate knowledge of the scores, and the inside perspective of a world-class practitioner. And yet for all the adulation Wagner's art inspires, Thielemann does not shy away from unpalatable truths about the man himself, explaining why today Wagner is venerated and reviled in equal measure.My Life with Wagner is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.
In Fortissimo, Murray follows twelve young singers in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s training program, the prestigious Opera Center for American Artists, through the 2003–2004 season. In the course of the year, these singers attend countless coaching sessions, inspiring master classes, nerve-racking auditions and grueling rehearsals—and finally perform with some of the most celebrated names (and spectacular egos) in opera, from Samuel Ramey to José Cura and Natalie Dessay. While chronicling their progress, Murray offers an insider’s look at the different aspects of the opera world that influence a young singer’s success, a world filled with temperamental maestros, ambitious directors, old-world tradition and sacred monsters.
Weaving recollections of his own days training in New York, Rome and Milan in the 1950s with the personal and artistic struggles of the young singers in Chicago today, Murray lays bare the staggering ambition and relentless will required to achieve a career in the arts. As he writes, “Becoming a successful opera singer—stepping out on a huge stage to try to fill the house with your voice, to bring an audience of thirty-six hundred people to its feet—is as risky in its own peculiar way as embarking on a career as a matador. You can triumph, you can struggle to survive or you can perish from your wounds.” Fortissimo is a delicious tale of rising talents, angst and heartache and small triumphs, and the music that inspires it all.
From the Hardcover edition.
MO' META BLUES
The World According to Questlove
Mo' Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone's Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture.
Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences--from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last hip hop band on Earth. Mo' Meta Blues also has some (many) random (or not) musings about the state of hip hop, the state of music criticism, the state of statements, as well as a plethora of run-ins with celebrities, idols, and fellow artists, from Stevie Wonder to KISS to D'Angelo to Jay-Z to Dave Chappelle to...you ever seen Prince roller-skate?!?
But Mo' Meta Blues isn't just a memoir. It's a dialogue about the nature of memory and the idea of a post-modern black man saddled with some post-modern blues. It's a book that questions what a book like Mo' Meta Blues really is. It's the side wind of a one-of-a-kind mind.
It's a rare gift that gives as well as takes.
It's a record that keeps going around and around.
Key features include:
- Wagner: his life year by year
- Wagner: his music work by work
- Things people said about Wagner
- Essential Wagner: ten great moments
- Wagner on CD and DVD
- Wagner bibliography
This indispensable Faber Pocket Guide provides a wealth of insights into Wagner and is essential reading for anyone with an interest in both and the man and his music.
'[P]robably the best introduction ever written to this most complex of composers.' Simon Heffer, Telegraph
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.
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.
The Rest Is Noise takes the reader inside the labyrinth of modern sound. It tells of maverick personalities who have resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.
Ross, in this sweeping and dramatic narrative, takes us from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.
Get ready to be pitch slapped.
The roots of unaccompanied vocal music stretch all the way back to Gregorian chants of the Middle Ages, and collegiate a cappella is over a century old. But what was once largely an Ivy League phenomenon has, in the past twenty years, exploded. And it’s not what you think. Though the blue blazers and khakis may remain, a cappella groups at colleges across the country have become downright funky.
In Pitch Perfect, journalist Mickey Rapkin follows a season in a cappella through all its twists and turns, covering the breathtaking displays of vocal talent, the groupies (yes, there are a cappella groupies), the rock-star partying, and all the bitter rivalries. Rapkin brings you into the world of collegiate a cappella characters—from movie-star looks and celebrity-size egos to a troubled new singer with the megawatt voice. Including encounters with a cappella alums like John Legend and Diane Sawyer and fans from Prince to presidents, Rapkin shows that a cappella isn’t for the faint of heart—or lungs.
Sure to strike a chord with fans of Glee and The Sing-Off, this raucous story of a cappella rock stars shows that sometimes, to get that perfect harmony, you have to embrace a little discord.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Unlike many forms of popular music, metalheads tend to embrace their favorite bands and follow them over decades. Metal is not only a pastime for the true aficionados; it’s a lifestyle and obsession that permeates every aspect of their being. Louder Than Hell is an examination of that cultural phenomenon and the much-maligned genre of music that has stood the test of time.
Louder than Hell features more than 250 interviews with some of the biggest bands in metal, including Black Sabbath, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Spinal Tap, Pantera, White Zombie, Slipknot, and Twisted Sister; insights from industry insiders, family members, friends, scenesters, groupies, and journalists; and 48 pages of full-color photographs.
Among the bands profiled: Mission of Burma, Butthole Surfers, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Big Black, Hüsker Dü, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Mudhoney, The Replacements, Beat Happening, and Dinosaur Jr.
For years, rappers from Nas to Ja Rule have hero-worshipped the legendary drug dealers who dominated Queens in the 1980s with their violent crimes and flashy lifestyles. Now, for the first time ever, this gripping narrative digs beneath the hip-hop fables to re-create the rise and fall of hustlers like Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, Gerald “Prince” Miller, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, and Thomas “Tony Montana” Mickens. Spanning twenty-five years, from the violence of the crack era to Run DMC to the infamous murder of NYPD rookie Edward Byrne to Tupac Shakur to 50 Cent’s battles against Ja Rule and Murder Inc., to the killing of Jam Master Jay, Queens Reigns Supreme is the first inside look at the infamous southeast Queens crews and their connections to gangster culture in hip hop today.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In Elvis: My Best Man, a heartfelt, entertaining, and long-awaited contribution to our understanding of Elvis Presley and the early days of rock ’n’ roll, George Klein writes with great affection for the friend he knew—about who the King of Rock ’n’ Roll really was and how he acted when the stage lights were off. This fascinating chronicle of boundary-breaking and music-making through one of the most intriguing and dynamic stretches of American history overflows with insights and anecdotes from someone who was in the middle of it all. From the good times at Graceland to hanging out with Hollywood stars to butting heads with Elvis’s iron-handed manager, Colonel Tom Parker, to making sure that Elvis’s legacy is fittingly honored, GK was a true friend of the King and a trailblazer in the music industry in his own right.
From the Hardcover edition.
From the moment in 1965 when he first stepped on stage—at age seven—in Gary, Indiana, Michael Jackson was destined to become the undisputed King of Pop. In a career spanning four decades, Jackson became a global icon, selling over four hundred million albums, earning thirteen Grammy awards, and spinning dance moves that captivated the world. Songs like “Billie Jean” and “Black and White” altered our national discussion of race and equality, and Jackson’s signature aesthetic, from the single white glove to the moonwalk, defined a generation. Despite publicized scandals and controversy, Jackson’s ultimate legacy will always be his music.
In an account that “reminds us why Michael Jackson was, indeed, a ‘genius’ entertainer” (New York Newsday), Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper delves deeply into Jackson’s music and talent. From the artist’s early days with the Jackson 5, to his stratospheric success as a solo artist, to “Beat It” and “Thriller,” “Bad” and “The Man in the Mirror,” to his volatile final years, his attempted comeback, and untimely death, Knopper draws on his “critical and reportorial savvy in assessing Jackson’s creative peaks and valleys,” (USA TODAY) exploring the beguiling and often contradictory forces that fueled Michael Jackson’s genius. Drawing on an amazing four hundred interviews—ranging from Jackson’s relatives, friends, and key record executives to celebrities like will.i.am and Weird Al Yankovic—this critical biography puts his career into perspective and celebrates his triumph in art and music. This is “a thoughtful look at an artist who grew up in a segregated mill town and who, for the rest of his life, made music to bring down walls” (Chicago Tribune).
If you want to know why La traviata was actually a flop at its premiere in 1853, it's in here. If you want to know why claiming to have heard Bjorling's Chicago performance of Il trovatore is the classic opera fan faux pas, it's in here. Even if you just want to know how to pronounce Aida, or what the plot of Rigoletto is all about, this is the place to look. From the composer's intense hatred of priests to synopses of the operas and a detailed discography of the best recordings to buy, it can all be found in Verdi with a Vengeance. William Berger has given another improbable performance, serving up a book as thorough as it is funny and as original as it is astute, an utterly indispensable guide for novice and expert alike.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Ten years in the making, Tune In takes the Beatles from before their childhoods through the final hour of 1962—when, with breakthrough success just days away, they stand on the cusp of a whole new kind of fame and celebrity. They’ve one hit record ("Love Me Do") behind them and the next ("Please Please Me") primed for release, their first album session is booked, and America is clear on the horizon. This is the lesser-known Beatles story—the pre-Fab years of Liverpool and Hamburg—and in many respects the most absorbing and incredible period of them all. Here is the complete and true account of their family lives, childhoods, teenage years and their infatuation with American music, here is the riveting narrative of their unforgettable days and nights in the Cavern Club, their laughs, larks and adventures when they could move about freely, before fame closed in.
For those who’ve never read a Beatles book before, this is the place to discover the young men behind the icons. For those who think they know John, Paul, George, and Ringo, it’s time to press the Reset button and tune into the real story, the lasting word.
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
Growing up in Melbourne, Nellie Mitchell dreamed of fame, but her devout father disapproved. When a chance arose to go to Paris, she trusted in her musical talent and hoped for a lucky break.
Within a few years, reborn as Nellie Melba, she was performing to overflowing concert halls, hobnobbing with European royalty and collaborating with some of the most renowned composers of the age. Audiences swooned over the 'heavenly pleasures' of her voice, while the public showed an insatiable appetite for news of her sometimes passionate private life.
Dame Nellie Melba was Australia's first international superstar. In this important biography, enhanced by new research, Ann Blainey captures the exuberance, controversy and pathos of Melba's remarkable career.
Winner of the 2009 National Biography Award. Shortlisted, 2008 Age Book of the Year Awards.
‘Blainey ... writes with clarity and panache. This is an entertaining biography. Everyone should read it and be reminded of what a remarkable singer we once had in our midst.’ —Sydney Morning Herald
‘There have been five biographies of Melba, together with her own rather fanciful memoirs; but the present one by Ann Blainey is superior to them all.’ —The Age
‘Thoroughly researched, excellently written and beguilingly human biography of Nellie Melba’ —Australian Book Review
‘Blainey brings a freshness to the story, giving us the feeling that we are reading about a life in progress.’ —Good Reading
‘Welcome and timely, shedding new light on the diva’ —Courier Mail
‘This is a gripping story of triumph and sorrow.’ —Sun-Herald
‘Meticulously researched biography’ —The Australian
Ann Blainey is the author of I Am Melba. She has written five biographies, and her most recent biography of Dame Nellie Melba reflects her fascination with singing and opera. She has served on the council of two Australian opera companies and of the Percy Grainger Museum in Melbourne, where she lives.
Stuart Hamilton is a well-known Canadian musician who has been in the forefront of music in Canada for more than 60 years. Here, in this memoir, he recounts his sometimes hectic assault on the Canadian music world. Along the way, Hamilton encountered, as a vocal coach and accompanist, most of the great Canadian singers of the last half of the 20th century, and some international ones as well.
For 27 years Hamilton was an erudite and funny personality on CBC’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. He has appeared across Canada with such beloved artists as Lois Marshall, Maureen Forrester, Richard Margison, and Isabel Bayrakdarian. In Opening Windows, Hamilton takes the reader into his confidence on numerous matters that have influenced musical life in Canada for decades.
Joe argues that when opera excerpts are employed on soundtracks they tend to appear at critical moments of the film, usually associated with the protagonists, and the author explores why it is opera, not symphony or jazz, that accompanies poignant scenes like these. Joe's film analysis focuses on the time period of the post-1970s, which is distinguished by an increase of opera excerpts on soundtracks to blockbuster titles, the commercial recognition of which promoted the production of numerous opera soundtrack CDs in the following years. Joe incorporates an empirical methodology by examining primary sources such as production files, cue-sheets and unpublished interviews with film directors and composers to enhance the traditional hermeneutic approach. The films analysed in her book include Woody Allen’s Match Point, David Cronenberg’s M. Butterfly, and Wong Kar-wai’s 2046.
This book examines various facets of Leoncavallo's history: from his youth as the son of the Naples' judge who presided over the murder trial on which Pagliacci was based to his studies with the poet Giosuè Carducci, and from his sojourn in France as a café-chantant pianist to his appointment in Egypt as music instructor to the Khedive. Careful documentation and plot synopses of Leoncavallo's numerous works are provided and his two U.S. tours are discussed.
The biography also sheds new light on Leoncavallo's colleagues and contemporaries, including composers Mahler, Massenet, Puccini, Verdi, and Mascagni; singers Caruso, Ruffo, Tetrazzini, and Sanderson; and historical personalities like Toscanini, Hugo, Carducci, Wilhelm II, and Queen Victoria. A foreword by Plácido Domingo, a photo spread featuring more than 25 photos, and an appendix offering the complete list of the composer's opus add to the bibliography and index, making this the ultimate reference on this important figure in music and opera history.
Auber’s famous historical grand opera La Muette de Portici (also known by its hero’s name as Masaniello) is a key work in operatic history. Auber himself experienced four French Revolutions (1789, 1830, 1848, 1870). The latter (The Commune) hastened the end of his life. He died on 12 May 1871, at the advanced old age of 89, and in the pitiful conditions of civil strife, after a long and painful illness which worsened during the Siege of Paris. He had refused to leave the city he had always loved despite the dangers and privation, even after his house had been set on fire by the petroleurs et petroleuses. By some irony a mark had been placed against the house of the composer of Masaniello, the very voice of Romantic liberty!
Auber’s overtures were once known everywhere, a staple of the light Classical repertoire. The influence of his gracious melodies and dance rhythms on piano and instrumental music, and on the genre of Romantic comic opera, especially in Germany, was overwhelming. The operas themselves, apart from Fra Diavolo (1830), have virtually passed out of the repertoire, since Auber’s elegant and restrained art now has little appeal for the world of music, attuned as it is to the meatier substance of verismo, Wagnerian transcendentalism, and 20th-century experimentalism.
La Muette de Portici, an opera in five acts, with libretto by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne, was premiered at the Académie Royale de Musique (Salle de la rue Le Peletier) on 29 February 1828. The setting is Naples in 1647, against the historical background of the revolt led by the fisherman Tommaso Aniello (Masaniello) against Spanish rule.
This work, of crucial importance for the genre of grand-opéra, or grandiose historical music drama, was one of the most successful of the 19th century, and became enveloped in a revolutionary mystique. This reputation took fire following a performance in Brussels on 25 August 1830 which sparked the uprising for Belgian independence from the Netherlands, and was further sustained by the events of 1848 when stagings of the opera caused tumult and demonstrations in several opera houses.
La Muette de Portici is the first grand-opéra with all the typical characteristics of the genre: five short acts, most of which culminate in a dramatic and decorative tableau; ballets loosely connected with the action (in acts 1 and 3); stage sensation and mass groupings, with lavish use of décor, costumes and machinery (the wedding procession, the busy marketplace and popular uprising, the eruption of Vesuvius), characteristic situations and their appropriate type of aria. There is a group of important leading roles, powerful and functional choruses, and a much expanded reliance on the orchestra.
The music responds to, and reflects, the vivid and imposing scenic effects (based on historical and pictorial research by the great stage designers and painters Pierre-Luc-Charles Cicéri and Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre). The music is also remarkable for its melodic abundance, the excitement of its ensembles, the verve of its dances, and the power and variety of the choruses.
The contrast between the two heroines—Fenella, a mute peasant who expresses herself in gesture and dance in free-form balletic sequence; and Elvire, a glamorous princess who uses the full range of Italianate vocal genres and styles—makes a series of innate dramatic and symbolic points about power and powerlessness, authenticity of emotion, and the nature of commitment. The two tenor roles have a similarly strong, if less vivid, contrast. The prince, Alphonse, comes across as weak and vacillating, whereas Masaniello, the fisherman, is a natural leader, a man among men, whose devotion to his people, to freedom, as well as to his pathetic broken sister, mark him out as hero.
The roles were created by Adolphe Nourrit (Masaniello); Alexis Dupont (Alphonse); Laure Cinti-Damoreau (Elvire); Henri-Bernard Dabadie (Pietro) and Prévot (Borella); with Pouilley, Jean-Etienne-Auguste Massol, Ferdinand Prévot and Mlle Lorotte. The dancer Lise Noblet realized the role of Fenella. The opera was one of the greatest successes at the Paris Opéra, the 100th performance taking place on the 23 April 1840, the 500th on 14 June 1880. It was also successful in other countries, especially Germany. The work was translated into German, Hungarian, English, Italian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Norwegian, Swedish, Croatian and Russian.
This edition reproduces the vocal score published by E. Troupenas (c. 1828).
Young then examines the entirely different philosophy Wagner constructs after his 1854 conversion from Hegelian optimism to Schopenhauerian pessimism. “Redemption” now becomes, not a future utopia in this world, but rather “transfigured” existence in another world, attainable only through death. Viewing Wagner’s operas through the lens of his philosophy, the book offers often novel interpretations of Lohengrin, The Ring cycle, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, and Parsifal.
Finally, Young dresses the cause of Friedrich Nietzsche’s transformation from Wagner’s intimate friend and disciple into his most savage critic. Nietzsche’s fundamental accusation, it is argued, is one of betrayal: that Wagner betrayed his early, “life affirming” philosophy of art and life in favor of “life-denial." Nietzsche’s assertion and the final conclusion of the book is that our task, now, is to “become better Wagnerians than Wagner.”