VERDI AT THE GOLDEN GATE

OPERA AND SAN FRANCISCO IN THE GOLD RUSH YEARS

A meticulously researched history of operatic music as performed in San Francisco from the Gold Rush to the Civil War. The subtitle saves this admirable volume from a truth-in- advertising charge. Martin (Aspects of Verdi, 1988, etc.) sees the Bay City's growing acclaim for Verdi's music as a paradigm for the development of musical taste in a town that grew from frontier outpost to cosmopolitan bastion in little more than a decade—but this argument seems beside the point. The author's more substantial—and more interesting—story is how 19th-century European opera became a local mania in a city built by roughnecks and miners on the other side of the world from Milan and London. As Martin notes, if today's New Yorkers shared the same enthusiasm for opera as San Franciscans in the years 1851-60, the demand would require 20 additional Met-sized opera houses, all playing every night. Against this background of frenzied enthusiasm, Martin presents a detailed, scholarly history of the singers who came to San Francisco (many of them from South American opera troupes), what they sang, where they sang, and how they were received. In doing so, he provides a potent look at American cultural history: the audiences who spat and filled the theater with cigar smoke, who broke into cheers before the music ended, and who engaged in fistfights and duels, bringing the grand gestures of romantic opera into real life. The time and place championed democratic populism, but also saw itself as ``larger than life''—and opera, with its appeal to the emotions, was ideal entertainment. New operas, hot off the presses of European music publishers, were received with the same intense, lively interest that today greets Hollywood movies. A genuine contribution to the history of art and society during the tumultuous years of this country's adolescence. Its primary appeal, though, is to students of operatic history and those who have permanently left their hearts in you-know-where. (Illustrations)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-520-08123-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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