Alban Berg's Wozzeck is one of the most significant operas of the twentieth century. Douglas Jarman's study provides a clear and accessible introduction to this work, placing it in the context of the radical developments in musical language during the early decades of the century and of the development of Berg's own musical style. The book covers all aspects of the work. Early chapters are devoted to the history and discovery of the Buchner play Woyzeck on which Berg based the libretto and to the background and composition of the opera. A detailed synopsis takes the reader through the events on stage in relation to the structured musical effects. Particular attention is given in the subsequent chapter to the unique dramatic and musical design of the opera. In offering a possible interpretation of the work Douglas Jarman considers this closely organized structure in relation to the expressionistic language of the music. A final chapter charts the performances of the opera, in particular early productions, which are illustrated with many hitherto unpublished photographs from Berg's own lifetime. An important feature of the book is the inclusion of many important and otherwise unobtainable contemporary documents concerned with the play and the opera, includine Karl Emil Franzos's description of the reconstruction of the fragmented Buchner play and three commentaries by Berg himself on the opera. This comprehensive guide will be invaluable to the student and opera-goer wishing to unravel the musical and dramatic complecities of this important work.
What's it like to grow up on a small farm in Illinois only to find yourself, some 20 years later, performing on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House? And then to travel the world, singing in historic theaters from La Scala in Milan to Vienna, Paris, London, and beyond? Former Met star Sherrill Milnes tells all in this completely updated edition of his very successful biography.
In America today, opera has never been more popular, and one reason for this is, no doubt, that American opera singers are fixtures on every leading opera stage throughout the world. In this lively and engrossing account, Peter G. Davis, music critic for New York magazine and a leading opera authority, tells the story of how these plucky, resilient and supremely talented American singers have transformed this venerable European-born art form and made it their own.Starting with opera's arrival in America in the early nineteenth century, Davis shows how American singers grew in sophistication and stature along with the country. From the nineteenth-century pioneers who crashed the gates of Europe's elite opera circles, to the glamorous singers of the early twentieth century who were also Hollywood stars and publicity magnets, to the highly professional singers since World War II who not only have gained European acceptance but now dominate the industry, this lively and highly readable account chronicles the extraordinary lives and adventures of these larger-than-life personalities. Included are Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, Richard Tucker, Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Lawrence Tibbett, and a galaxy of others whose stories are as dramatic and compelling as the roles they sang on stage. Full of prima-donna antics, hilarious backstage anecdotes, and performance lore, The American Opera Singer will delight anyone who has felt the magic of opera, and will provide a new canon of American singing sure to provoke spirited debate among aficionados. Trained as a musician and composer, Peter G. Davis has been writing about music for over thirty years in such publications as the New York Times, The Times of London, High Fidelity, and Opera News. He is currently music critic for New York magazine and lives in New York City. Experience the artistry of America's supremely talented singers on RCA Victor Red Seal's The American Opera Singer, a companion 2-CD set to this book, now available in record stores.
What is it about opera that can bring unashamed tears to the eyes of adoring fans? In this book, first published in French in 1986 and now available in English, Michel Poizat explains in a charming way the fascination of the interaction between music and words. Touching on a variety of historical musical events, operatic themes, specific works, and individual composers, Poizat borrows some methods from the field of psychoanalysis to satisfy his curiosity about the strange power of the human voice.
English National Opera Guides are ideal companions to the opera. They provide stimulating introductory articles together with the complete text of each opera in English and the original. Rossini is one of the great operatic composers, an innovator within the whole concept of what was appropriate for serious as well as comic opera. "Moses" is a score which he revised for Paris, ten years after it had been composed for Naples; the result shows the evolution of his dramatic taste over a crucial decade--from the neo-classical sublime to spectacular Romantic grand opera. "The Barber" has been a consistent favorite with the public and performers since it opened, and Marco Spada analyses how its stylish comedy has been misunderstood. Other essays throw light on the working conditions of the opera industry in Rossini's Italy, on Balzac's delightful novel concerning "Moses" and on the exceptional challenge of performing this type of music to a high standard.
Billy Budd, based on Herman Melville's nautical allegory, is one of Britten's most challenging operas. This comprehensive guide considers the work from both literary and musical viewpoints. Melville's novella is discussed, as is the interpretation given to the novella by the librettists E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier. A detailed synopsis guides the reader through the musical and dramatic action of the opera and in a chapter devoted to the music, Britten's distinctive technique of tonal symbolism is analyzed to demonstrate the effectiveness of his musical response to the dramatic suggestions of Melville's story. The most important critical writings on Billy Budd are represented by an expanded version of Donald Mitchell's 1979 notebook on the opera. A final chapter charts the opera's stage history and fluctuating critical reception.
Maria Callas returned to the stage in 1971 to teach master classes at Juilliard. This intriguing forum later inspired Terrence McNally's acclaimed play Master Class. Outspoken and uncompromising in her artistic beliefs, Callas worked through her legendary arias from Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, and others. John Ardoin brilliantly captures the insights of a thoughtful singer who reveals herself to be not the imperious diva of her reputation, but a supremely self-aware artist concerned with passing along a great musical tradition.
This collection of specially commissioned essays on one of the most influential opera composers is divided into four parts, each exploring an important element of Rossini's work and his world. Chapters by specialists chart the course of Rossini's life and career through analysis of his reception; operatic texts and non-operatic works; and the individual works: Tancredi, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Semiramide, and Guillaume Tell.