Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two New Books Attempt to "Un-stuff" Opera For Newcomers

"Author Thomson Smillie is no stranger to the Louisville arts scene. For 16 years, he was the General Director of Kentucky Opera and worked in similar capacities for the Opera Company of Boston, the Scottish Opera and the Wexford Festival in Ireland. Smillie's love for opera as an art form runs deep, and his book, How to Listen, Learn, Love Opera, is an engaging and heartfelt effort to share that love with others. That is where this excellent guidebook comes in. Smillie's target is the fledgling fan, someone who has some interest in opera, but might be a bit timid because of her lack of knowledge or – and this is not unimportant – a lack of funds. Not only does he give you a sort of Cliff's Notes guide to the most famous operas from the greatest composers, he also directs you on the penny-pincher's path to finding music, DVDs, and other resources to learn about opera on your own and at your own pace before committing hard-earned cash to an expensive seat at a live performance. Smillie is an unabashed fan of YouTube for finding clips from great singers – past and present – and he will also tell you who, in particular, to look for and in what productions." [Source]

"Weep, Shudder, Die: A Guide to Loving Opera is an insightful and accessible guide to the grand art of opera for both new and longtime fans. For too long opera was relegated to high society and perceived as stuffy and remote. But now that has changed. A new generation of opera lovers has emerged, inviting a wave of extraordinary new productions and revivals the world over. Robert Levine has written an illuminating guide for this growing audience. With his signature wit, he examines the most famous composers and operas, from Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen to Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, giving a sense of each opera's history and celebrating its enduring greatness. Weep, Shudder, Die will inspire anyone who has ever been curious about opera but never knew where to start to discover one of the world's most entertaining and satisfying art forms." [Source]

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