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Delivery and Returns see our delivery rates and policies thinking of returning an item? If you've decided that the time has finally come to learn about opera and discover for yourself what it is about opera that sends your normally reserved friends into states of ecstatic abandon, t Opera is the fastest growing of all the performing arts, attracting audiences of all ages who are enthralled by the gorgeous music, vivid drama, and magnificent production values. If you've decided that the time has finally come to learn about opera and discover for yourself what it is about opera that sends your normally reserved friends into states of ecstatic abandon, this is the book for you.
Opera is recognized as the standard text in English for anyone who wants to become an opera lover--a clear, friendly and truly complete handbook to learning how to listen to opera, whether on the radio, on recordings, or live at the opera house. Fred Plotkin, an internationally respected writer and teacher about opera who for many years was performance manager of the Metropolitan Opera, introduces the reader whatever his or her level of musical knowledge to all the elements that make up opera, including: The major part of the Opera is devoted to an almost minute-by-minute analysis of eleven key operas, ranging from Verdi's thunderous masterpieces Rigoletto and Puccini's electrifying Tosca through works by Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, Offenbach, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, to the psychological complexities of Richard Strauss's Elektra.
Once you have completed Opera , you will be prepared to see and hear any opera you encounter, thanks to this book's unprecedentedly detailed and enjoyable method of revealing the riches of opera. Paperback , pages. Published December 1st by Hachette Books first published January 1st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Opera , please sign up. Lists with This Book. May 07, Sammy rated it really liked it Shelves: Pretty damn great, with the usual caveats.
Plotkin really knows his stuff. He's deeply passionate about opera but also he's worked in the industry, so it's not that stuffy nonsense you read in "Opera" magazine, a bunch of old-timers who are more interested in trading anecdotes than engaging with an evolving art form. Plotkin's passion and knowledge shines through, and he digs deep into ways of approaching opera including something as seemingly simple as buying tickets but also is happ Pretty damn great, with the usual caveats. Plotkin's passion and knowledge shines through, and he digs deep into ways of approaching opera including something as seemingly simple as buying tickets but also is happy to provide some old-timer advice alongside it.
His brief history of opera at the start is refreshingly accessible, but at the same time, he sticks to his guns about issues that many of us younger folk don't necessarily agree with.
WHy not just explore three or four operas and include the musical clips where appropriate? These topics are sometimes covered, but only very briefly. If you like opera as much as me. I can only wish that the infamous Mission Accomplished could be flaoting in the wind after reading this work. May 07, Sammy rated it really liked it Shelves: Do you believe that this item violates a copyright?
His thorough discussions of a series of varied operas really will make the difference for someone either new to or somewhat familiar with opera, and the extensive listing at books end of "recommended recordings" of basically every opera ever is So, what are my caveats? Well, firstly, this book was written in the early '90s, and as a result neglects the internet and cinema angle that has so changed opera and opera bookings. It's a small fact, but it can be distancing twenty years on.
Second, as I mentioned, some of Plotkin's views I simply cannot agree with. He largely ignores the fact that opera was previously a very open, talkative environment for an audience, acting as if it's just natural to sit in the dark and be quiet and appreciate 4 hours of music. Don't get me wrong, that's the convention nowadays and it's lovely, but it's worth remembering if you're bored by a very long Handel opera, it's because you're not watching it in the way it was intended.
Not going out for a drink during a boring part or throwing stuff at your friends? Rossini would be so confused! His most upsetting angle is his stark opposition to surtitles.
While I agree that they can distract audiences and - by their very nature - they simplify the depth of any work, the flipside of this - as shown by the last twenty years - is how accessible both comedy and deep philosophy become when we can understand each moment. Not just what we remember from the libretto we read and studied all week if Plotkin is to be believed but what the actors - because, after all, these days many more opera singers are being trained somewhat as actors - are bringing to its moment.
Of course, it won't be an issue in a few years, when we all have a Google Glass attachment. If you don't want the libretto, you won't see it, and if you do want it, you can choose your language, your annotations, and everything else in a literal blink of an eye. Thirdly and finally, I suppose, there's Plotkin's overall view. It's admirable and certainly not to be easily disregarded, that people should listen to many recordings of an opera, listen and read before they attend, and devote as much time as possible to rumination. Unfortunately, it's just not how many people engage with the artform, particularly not newcomers who may be dragged along by an aunt or uncle, or tentatively take their first steps from the back of the balcony.
In short, in his attempts to convince readers that they should engage with the artform on his terms or, at least, on the terms of a longterm opera subscriber in the 20th century , he fails to acknowledge that opera must give some ground. Not necessarily "cheapen" itself as he says, but make some compromises with the Gen Y and Z audiences who simply come from different cultures, even if those cultures are separated by time and not geography. Before I wrap up, though, it's worth reiterating that this is a great book.
Plotkin skilfully leads the reader through operas in four languages as a kind of overall guide, while giving enough information that anyone not feeling terrified after the experience will be able to navigate their way from here. Even when his views feel a little unbalanced, they're worth noting.
His greatest concern - that modern audiences will simply engage with the surface-reading of an opera and its words - is valid, since so much of what happens in opera that is, why it can take someone 20 minutes to say "I love you" is in the rich and deep work of the score. Anyhow, overall, this is a really good book if you're the kind of novice who can use it as a basis for your own exploration of opera. Just take everything with a grain of salt as you should be doing anyway!
And, seriously, that list of recommended recordings at the back of the book might now be outdated by 20 years, but it remains truly stellar. Oct 06, Tim rated it liked it. Opera is a bit pedantic in an ingratiating sort of way. But, as a reviewer here noted, Plotkin can be a little creepy.
He seems to have trouble keeping his pants on when he thinks about opera. The big problem, though, is that he expects his readers to buy a dozen CD sets of specific recordings of various operas, then read the accompanying essays, then follow his commentary track by portion of track and study librettos in the original and translatio Opera is a bit pedantic in an ingratiating sort of way.
The big problem, though, is that he expects his readers to buy a dozen CD sets of specific recordings of various operas, then read the accompanying essays, then follow his commentary track by portion of track and study librettos in the original and translation before attending operas, and avoid performances with supertitles ….
Feb 08, Hansel5 added it Shelves: It was a suggested further reading.
I was fortunate in finding it at the NYPL and read it. I honestly thought Plotkin's summary of 'the first years of opera history' was a fantastic survey of the history of this art form, its genesis, and adoption and interpretation by different countries throughout the ages.
He then break down all manner of things about opera: And then he prepares you for a lesson in learning to hear and appreciate opera in selecting ten operas for you to research and listen. I only did the first one of the course: Very much enjoyed the experience. I should go see a live performance. Lack of time and resources.
Aug 12, Satia rated it really liked it Shelves: There are things I didn't necessarily love about this book but I can only commend the author for daring to do the seemingly impossible. Nov 04, Realini rated it liked it Shelves: I can only wish that the infamous Mission Accomplished could be flaoting in the wind after reading this work.
It also Opera To start with criticism, fault finding and the maximizing habits: There is another problem of this listener and that is the lack of real attention and concentration in relation with Opera After all, it has been sitting on my Goodreads shelf for four years Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi the genius co-founder of Positive Psychology has a classic masterpiece on being in the zone: It is also true that, no matter how interesting in principle the subject is, learning more about the Opera, there is no chance in hell that i would really become a regular presence on the seats of the Opera House.
Having said that, there is much to recommend the book, for a more serious reader or listener who pays attention and concentrates. The title is somewhat pompous and too glorious for its own sake, in promisisng to some extent that you would: The author also talks about more difficult fare, like Czech composers and he even mentions our very own George Enescu We have two macaws and one is named Balzac, but the other Puccini, so there was some interest in this kind of music before Opera Aug 18, Matt rated it really liked it.
A great introduction that doesn't hit you over the head with too much information while also not full of fluff, either. The first half of the book is a history of opera, introduction to some of the technical terms, and advice on considerate opera-going. At this point in time, some of the advice on attending an opera is a little out of date, as this book was published pre-internet, but most of it still stands. The second half of the book is a list of ten recommended opera recordings and a step-by A great introduction that doesn't hit you over the head with too much information while also not full of fluff, either.
The second half of the book is a list of ten recommended opera recordings and a step-by-step guide through them.
The recordings selected are truly excellent -- I've attended a number of operas and viewed Live at the Met recordings more than a few times, but have never heard anything like this. Plotkin definitely knows what he's talking about! And as of this writing, all of the recordings are available on spotify, which makes them easy to track down.
It took me a long while to find the time to listen to all 10 operas, but having finally finished, I'm really glad I did. I did deduct a star from my rating because I was expecting a little bit more from the sections on each opera. Here and there Plotkin provides true insight, but for the most part, they're just synopses of the operas, even though he recommends reading the synopses already before each act of the opera, so I'm not sure why he includes this redundancy.
I was hoping to get more detail on the "why" of opera, but didn't. For example, why is this performance considered better than others?
How does this conductor or singer interpret the music differently? Why did the composer write in a particular style, and what was the larger cultural context at the time of writing? These topics are sometimes covered, but only very briefly.
Maybe the finer points of opera are something that can never be adequately explained, but I do wish I could start to bridge the gap between appreciating opera and actually understanding it. Maybe in Opera ! With that said, it's definitely still worth reading the second half to pick up on the nuggets of insight that are nestled within what is otherwise just synopsis.
Jul 26, Annm rated it it was ok.