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.
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.
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
The Opera Manual is the only single source for the answers to these and other important questions. It is the ultimate companion for opera lovers, professionals, scholars, and teachers, featuring comprehensive information about, and plot summaries for, more than 550 operas—including every opera that is likely to be performed today, from standard to rediscovered contemporary works.
The book is invaluable, especially for opera professionals, who will find everything they need for choosing and staging operas. But it is also a treasure for listeners. Similar reference books commonly skip over scenes and supporting characters in their plot summaries, lacking even the most basic facts about staging, orchestral, and vocal requirements. The Opera Manual, based on the actual scores of the works discussed, is the only exhaustive, up-to-date opera companion—a “recipe book” that will enable its readers to explore those operas they know and discover new ones to sample and enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
For five years after the sensational première of Robert le Diable, Meyerbeer was thought to be resting on his laurels. Instead, he was drudging over a gigantic drama, partly adapted by Scribe from Merimée's Chronique de Charles IX. It was hardly believed possible that the esrlier success could be repeated. Most of the vivid details gleaned from every available document related to the time, were the composer's contribution to Les Huguenots. The music for this sombre tapestry of the Saint Bartholomew Massacre springs from the core of the vivid action and creates a panoramic alternation of moods, that capture the tragedy of religious intolerance and personal anguish in one of the most fraught events in history when some 30,000 French Protestants were murdered during the night of 24 August 1574. Meyerbeer’s music rises to occasion, and reaches sublime heights of music drama, especially in the fourth and fifth acts, with the Benediction of the Catholic Daggers—one of the most electrical scenes in all opera—the more powerful Love Duet, and the trio of martyrdom in the last moments of the opera. Spectacle was incorporated in the plot, in Meyerbeer’s concern to conjure up the couleur locale of those heroic times. The evocation of Marguerite de Valois’s court at Chenonceaux, the recreation of late Medieval Parisian life with its Gypsy revels and the religionists' riots in the Pré-aux-Clercs, the wedding fete in the Hotel de Nesle, all grow out of the central idea. Meyerbeer was also very successful in his characterizations of individuals: the dreamy idealist Raoul, the passionate and self-sacrificing Valentine, the fanatical and implacable St Bris, the rough stolid Marcel, the elegant and capricious queen, the somewhat flamboyant but always honorable Nevers. All come to life in this score.
The opera became enormously popular, its various arias a touchstone of operatic lyricism, and by 1936 had been performed 1120 times in at the Paris Opéra alone. In spite of its overwhelming dramatic power and instrumental riches of the score, the most significant aspect of the work came to regarded the supremacy of the vocal parts. Performances at the Metropolitan Opera in new York during the 1890s were among the the most famous in operatic history. Here performances attained a legendary status, the so-called nuits des sept étoiles (“the Nights of the Seven Stars”), as in 1894 with Nellie Melba, Lillian Nordica, Sofia Scalchi, Jean de Reszke, Edouard de Reszke, Pol Plançon, and Victor Maurel
Once again George Sand summed up with incomparable insight the essence of Meyerbeer’s musico-dramatic achievement.
“From stone floors that no Protestant knee ever warms, solemn voices seemed to resound, the tones of a calm, secure triumph and the expiring sighs and murmurings of a tranquil end, resigned, confident, without death-rattle or lamentation. It was the voice of Calvinist martyrdom, a martyrdom without ecstasy or delirium, a torment where suffering is stifled by austere pride and august certainty... These imaginary hymns naturally assumed in my mind the form of that fine canticle in your opera, The Huguenots; and, while I dreamt I heard the cries of Catholic indignation and a sharp volley of musketry outside, a tall figure passed before my eyes, one of the noblest dramatic figures, one of the loveliest personifications of the idea of faith that art has ever produced in our time: Meyerbeer's Marcel. And I saw that bronze statue standing clothed in buffalo hide, quickened by the divine fire the composer had brought down upon him. I saw him, Maestro, forgive me my presumption, just as he must have appeared to you when you sought him at the uncompromising and steadfast hour of noon under the glowing arches of some Protestant church, vast and luminous as this one. Though you are a musician, you are more a poet than any of us! In what secret recess of your soul, in what hidden treasury of your mind did you find those clear, pure features, that concept, simple as antiquity, true as history, lucid as conscience, strong as faith? ....”
The facsimile edition of the manuscript of this famous work, for so long kept private and then thought lost after the Second World War, enables lovers of opera to examine for themselves the compositional procedure of its great and often misunderstood creator. One can see the extent to which curtailment of the original conception was needed on the eve of the premiere: in the ensembles of both act 1 and 3 Meyerbeer’s complex developments had to be reduced. The ever present problem of censorship also meant that the original idea of depicting Catherine de’ Medici on stage as the instigator of the massacre had to be radically altered and her role substituted by the Comte de Saint Bris. The famous viola d’amore accompaniment to Raoul’s rhapsodic act 1 romance (“Plus blanche que la blanche hermine”) was originally conceived for the cello. The extraordinary Andante amoroso for the central part of the love duet also indicates Meyerbeer’s preparedness to act on a good idea: in this case Adolphe Nourrit’s suggestion that the cantabile be expanded. To see the MS of such a famous opera is both a moving and stimulating experience.
Avoiding critical reductionism, Verdi and Puccini Heroines provides an unprecedented and probing discussion of how these great soprano roles were conceived and executed. Accordingly, the authors take a three-dimensional look at these heroines, examining seven operas: Il Trovatore, La Forza del Destino, Aida, La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot. The chapters, which are fully self-contained analyses, contain translations, illustrative musical examples, supplementary notes, and references to each opera's literary sources. The musical analysis, while thorough, is descriptive and accessible to all levels of readers.
Auber’s overtures were once instantly recognizable, favourites of the light Classical repertoire. His gracious melodies and dance rhythms had a huge influence, both on piano and instrumental music, and on the genre of Romantic comic opera, especially in Germany. Musical tastes and fashions have changed, and contemporary audiences are more accustomed to the heavier fare of verismo, high Wagnerian ideology, and twentieth-century experimentalism. The operas themselves, apart from Fra Diavolo (1830), are seldom performed, yet Auber’s elegant, delicate and restrained art remains as appealing to the discerning listener as ever it was.
Les Diamants de la couronne (1841) is a piece of really refined, almost surreal, fantasy. In many respects, it represents something of a distillation of the art of Scribe and Auber, a synthesis in some ways of the more earthy comedy of Fra Diavolo and the almost spiritual sophistication of Le Domino noir. Both plot and music carry the natural instincts of both creators to their extreme attainment. Berlioz singled out its musical beauty in his critique of the work. The narrative, with its story of royal counterfeiting, romance fulfilment and social restitution, combines several recurrent motifs that preoccupied Scribe, with the exotic Iberian setting opening up the Mediterranean sphere so stimulating to the artistic imagination of both librettist and composer. Catarina, heiress to the crown of Portugal, has a copy of the crown jewels made so that she can sell off the originals to pay off the national debt. The young queen's ploy works, the nation is saved. The music is very brilliant for the principal character who, by turns queen, brigand, and prima donna, sings variations of the greatest virtuosity and in the best of vocal styles.
This edition reproduces the vocal score published in London by Boosey and Co. (c. 1880), the Royal Edition, edited by Arthur Sullivan and Josiah Pittman (with Italian and English words).
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.
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.
Despitethe popular success of the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” series, opera’s grandworld of soaring sopranos and breathtaking baritones—of tragic Rigoletto, triumphal Sigmund, and desperate Orfeo, of faithful Figaro, heartbroken Pagliacci,and lusty Don Giovanni—remains wrapped in an aura of impenetrable esotericism.Piercing this veil of opera’s perceived inaccessibility, acclaimed classicalmusic critic Robert Levine extends a witty and insightfulinvitation to enjoy opera in Weep, Shudder, Die, offering a newgeneration of aficionados a priceless way to access to music’s greatest achievement.
Singing, Acting, and Movement in Opera is designed for use in opera and musical theater workshops and by beginning professional singers. Drawing on years of research, teaching, and performing, Mark Ross Clark provides an overview of dramatic methodology for the singing actor, encouraging the student's active participation through practical exercises and application to well-known works. The Singer-getics method emphasizes integration of the various dimensions of opera performance, creating synergies among vocal performance, character development, facial expression, and movement on the stage. The book presents important information about stagecraft, characterization, posture, historical styles, performance anxiety, aria, and scene analysis. Excerpts from interviews with performers, directors, conductors, coaches, composers, and teachers offer insights and advice, allowing the reader to "meet the artists." An appendix by postural alignment specialist Emily Bogard describes techniques of relaxation and self-awareness for the performer. This lively book will appeal to students, teachers, professionals, and general readers alike.