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Subject: Re: favorite opera books
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 9 Feb 2018 18:00:13 +0000

text/plain (84 lines)

It has been discussed--but so has everything else, and it's a fun 

I tend to stay away from general histories of opera and biographies of 
opera singers (although I have a fondness for autobiographies, in 
particular Lotte Lehmann's). A few favorite works include Henry 
Pleasants's "The Great Singers"; John Steane's works, especially "The 
Grand Tradition"; and the Opera on Record series. I love reading letters 
and my favorites include the Strauss-Hofmannsthal correspondence, the 
letters of Leonard Bernstein and the love letters of Kurt Weill and 
Lotte Lenya ("Speak Low"). On specific composers, there's the Winton 
Dean work on Handel's operas, Deryck Cooke's "I Saw the World End" (on 
the Ring cycle), Norman Del Mar's biography of Strauss and Edward Dent's 
study of Mozart operas (I know some of these are now dated, but 
still...). For Met-centric books there are the Paul Jackson volumes on 
the Saturday performances and the (very sadly) late Robert Tuggle's 
"Golden Age of Opera." For opera novels, there's Willa Cather's "Song of 
the Lark and James McCourt's "Mawrdew Czgowchwz."

The single opera book I probably learned the most from was Bryan Magee's 
"The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy."

That's off the top of my head (and without recourse to my shelves); I'm 
sure I've left out many of my favorite books.


------ Original Message ------
From: "k youngmann" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 2/9/2018 12:27:04 PM
Subject: favorite opera books

>Has this ever been discussed? I’m thinking about my favorite books 
>about opera.
>At the top of my list is Peter Conrad’s “A Song of Love and Death.” 
>It’s been years since I read it so now might be a good time to dust it 
>off again. From the Amazon page: “A Song of Love and Death: The Meaning 
>of Opera
>Graywolf's updated edition of this classic book on opera includes a new 
>afterword by author Peter Conrad.
>Arguing that opera's deepest roots lie in our most fundamental human 
>rituals, Peter Conrad shows us the faces of the gods that still hover 
>over the pageant--gods of music, abandon, evil, love. then, with the 
>dizzying skill of a practiced literary and cultural critic, the author 
>takes us on a ride through the repertoire of operas past and present. 
>Finally, he brings us to the climactic moment of the form: the 
>performance. We meet the great personalities—from Puccini to Bernstein 
>to Domingo—in their element, and see anew how their celebrity and their 
>artistry affect us all." There’s a lot more to read about it so here’s 
>the link: 
>Also up near the top of my list is Lanfranco Rasponi’s “The Last Prima 
>William Weaver’s “The Puccini Companion” ranks high as does Julian 
>Budden’s monumental 3-volume “The Operas of Verdi.”
>These are the ones that pop into my mind right away.
>I’d like to hear what books other Opera L folk recommend so I can see 
>if I’m missing anything.
>Kurt Youngmann
>"Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known." - Michel de 

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