[Free Reading] A History of Opera Author Carolyn Abbate – Selindameditasyon.com

A History of Opera Pretty much to goto for opera fans or those who, like me, often scratch their heads with a whafuck?! whenever the genre is mentioned within earshot.Knowing little of opera, I was fully prepared to have my mind changed and every musical value I have to be challenged, theologically and philosophically The two authors do the genre a great service The history is dense, thick, but never boring Sure, there are some longwinded bits on particular operas that aredisengaging because they're so spoilery, and some of themusicological sections will be a bit thick for layfolk, but they do a swell job setting out the evolution and development of opera, hitting all the highlights and stressing greatly what has changed, what has stayed the same, and, most importantly, what it all means! Their goal is to heighten the appreciation of the form and they certainly do that, it's just a minor slog to get there I would've appreciated a lengthier section on modern stuff and there are weird omissions (no Prokofiev??! Come on!) but forgivable in the greater scheme of things.In fact, I feel wellarmed now to go and actually watch some goddamn operas! I should probably put this on the abandoned shelf, as I barely made it 2/3s through (and it took 12 months to get that far), but I've spent enough time on it that I feel I can make enough of a judgement.This is, unfortunately, a bit of a slog I felt continually disappointed at how many hours I was putting into it and barley making any progress The authors are terrifically boring writers, regardless of their rich knowledge of opera Unfortunately their enthusiasm does not translate well to the page And consequently the facts don't stick to my memory Ultimately I feel like I've retained very little that I read in the first ~300 pages of this book So, what's the point in carrying on? From now on I will use it merely as a reference guide. Before records or radio, you bought transcriptions which you played with friends or alone on piano The opera La Traviata alone had a whopping 400 known transcriptions of different excerpts published As a Lord of the Rings fan, I read that in a Wagner opera “a magic ring was forged and cursed; that Siegfried won the ring in mortal combat; and that the curse spells disaster for Siegfried.” Sound familiar? It gets better “Young Siegfried” in 1851 shows “how the magic ring was forged by a dwarf and cursed in the first place (Das Rheingold) Cut and paste, and bingo – the heart of Tolkien’s LOTR clearly taken lifted straight from Wagner Carolyn then gives you the notes of the famous Tristan chord by Wagner: F B D# and G# I expecting the heavens to open up but realized it was just a normal minor seven flatfive chord common to any 1950’s jazz standard This book gives great background, mentioning all the important operas and composers It’s value to me was revealing operas I didn’t know but should, and giving me better historical perspective. Early assessment These two people are not gifted writers They leave too much of the verbal underbrush that is common in academic writing: weak sentences that purport to convey authority E.g The important thing to notice here isTheir ideas are interesting; it's too bad they don't have confidence in them Later assessment (05/16/13): I had to put this on hold because it is so freaking boring It's not a history so much as a series of marginally insightful essays about opera arranged inor less chronological order Not a good source for (a) foundational knowledge about opera (too scattered); (b) a cultural history of opera (both writers are terrible historians, the rather excellent discussion of castrati notwithstanding); (c) greater aesthetic understanding of the form (the essays are too superficial). A very engaging overview of opera for a novice opera lover like myself I came away with a better understanding of the few operas I have seen so far, and even better notes on many operas that this book introduced me to that are now on my mustsee list. If you already know a lot about opera this is not the book for you, but if you are still in the learning process this book is good option It has some pretty boring section, that I wish I could just skip, especially on the operas of the twentieth century The writers are experts on 19th century opera that is easy to notice, since they spent way too much pages there The way they explain the operas is sometimes heavy and hard to follow Nevertheless this book is worth reading. This is an intelligent, wellpenned survey of opera of the last 400 years from its beginnings from Monteverdi to the present times, with one important caveatit really is (still) too short at 567 pages to be comprehensive Ideally the book should be at least 150 pages longer Absent for example is an indepth study of baroque opera seria other than Handel'snothing but the most cursory mention of Vivaldi, whose operatic works are going through a slow but steady revival.Abbate and Parker also tends to ignore thefringe repertory, but their survey is excellent on the mainstream oeuvre They focus on thegroundbreaking works of canonical operatic composers, like Wagner's and Richard Strauss's, whose Ring and Der Rosenkavalier are studied in some detail One good thing for nonspecialists is that they keep musicological notations to a minimum, thereby ensuring those who do not read music (like me) could appreciate the thread of their arguments.I enjoyed reading the book, but some readers might find the book a bit on the serious side, without enough contemporaneous gossipy accounts of catfights between prima donnas, or salacious anecdotes about composers, librettists etc There are some, but they do not tend to overwhelm the academic though approachable style. Why has opera transfixed and fascinated audiences for centuries? Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker answer this question in their “effervescent, witty” Die Welt, Germany retelling of the history of opera, examining its development, the musical and dramatic means by which it communicates, and its role in society Now with an expanded examination of opera as an institution in the twentyfirst century, this “lucid and sweeping” Boston Globe narrative explores the tensions that have sustained opera over four hundred years: between words and music, character and singer, inattention and absorption Abbate and Parker argue that, though the genre’s most popular and enduring works were almost all written in a distant European past, opera continues to change the viewer— physically, emotionally, intellectually—with its enduring power I enjoyed this history very much My intentions were to get a basic feel for the development of opera and to learnabout its key proponents My favorite chapters were probably the ones addressing Monteverdi, Verdi, and Wagner Admittedly some of it can get tough to get through; for example taking sidetracks into the depths of one particular opera, libretto, etc However, on the other hand I appreciated it at times as a way to get a good idea about substantial works without reading entire librettos or having seen each opera Not for casual readers, but you don’t have to be an expert in music or opera to enjoy (although basic music theory background helps). Brilliant, informative, passionate, in precise language This book is a real treat for every music lover You have to have some stamina though to go through 567 pages but they are worth the effort It is available in a very good german translation as well but you should enjoy the original, the authors try and succeed not to become stuffy although their subject matter can become heady! Very well done, thank you!


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