OPERA IN AMERICA by John Dizikes

OPERA IN AMERICA

A Cultural History

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A smart, funny, splendidly written, and strikingly illustrated panorama of the New World's adoption of the Old World's most lavish and lively art form. Dizikes (American Studies/UC at Vera Cruz) offers a wealth of insight and history--American, theatrical, and musical--in this monumental labor of love, a thorough review of the roots and blossoms of the operatic experience in the US from the 18th century to the present day. The first American tour of legendary singing teacher Manuel Garcia and his talented offspring in the Barber of Seville; the history of opera in New Orleans and Chicago; the opera house owned by robber baron Jim Fisk (where Fisk planned to import Offenbach himself--a plan interrupted when Fisk was murdered by a jealous rival); the founding of the Metropolitan and its German seasons under the batons of the Damrosch clan; Caruso, Marian Anderson, Milton Cross, Maria Callas, Lincoln Center, and a noncondescending treatment of Stephen Sondheim's serious music dramas: The scope is comprehensive, and it's hard to imagine that there are many specialists, let alone general readers, who won't find things they didn't know or details they didn't previously appreciate. In such a heroic undertaking, questions and quibbles are bound to arise: To call A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum an opera is stretching it, and, as Dizikes approaches our own day, his ease of analysis becomes less sure. On the plus side, his view of opera in America isn't New York-centric, especially important because so many notable events in our operatic history happened outside that metropolis. In terms of information and entertainment per page, a bargain. Should attract and fascinate a wide audience, lovers of Americana as well as opera fans. (128 illustrations)

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1993
ISBN: 0-300-05496-3
Page count: 624pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993




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