Drawing on research from rare theater archives, manuscripts, journalism, and other sources, Carter records every step in the development of Oklahoma! The book is filled with rich and fascinating details about how Rodgers and Hammerstein first came together, the casting process, how Agnes de Mille became the show’s choreographer, and the drafts and revisions that ultimately gave the musical its final shape. Carter also shows the lofty aspirations of both the creators and producers and the mythmaking that surrounded Oklahoma! from its very inception, and demonstrates just what made it part of its times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
Joseph Volpe gives us an anecdote-filled tour of more than four decades at the Met, an institution full of vast egos and complicated politics. With stunning candor, he writes about the general managers he worked under, his embattled rise to the top, the maneuverings of the blue-chip board, and his masterful approach to making a family of such artist-stars as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Teresa Stratas, and Renee Fleming, and such visionary directors as Franco Zeffirelli, Robert Wilson, and Julie Taymor. Intimate and frank, The Toughest Show on Earth is not only essential for music lovers, but for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of the culture business.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In More Opera Scenes, the Wallaces have reviewed 100 additional operas and have chosen over 700 scenes. The popular "Table of Voice Categories" providing more than 300 combinations is also featured in this volume.
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.
Even the most flamboyant composers could scarcely have imagined the global reach of opera in our own times. More opera is performed, financed, seen, heard, filmed and broadcast than ever before, and the world's leading performers are worshipped and paid like pop stars. Yet the art form is widely derided as 'elitist' and parts of the classical recording business appear close to bankruptcy. Pinpointing the scandals, forgotten history and key revolutions in the form with light erudition and a brilliant anecdotal eye, Daniel Snowman reveals that the world of opera has always known crisis and uncertainty - and the resulting struggles have often proved every bit as dramatic as those portrayed onstage.
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 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