Affection is the subterranean river that frequently bursts through the surface to splash readers and, perhaps, convince them...

A MAD LOVE

AN INTRODUCTION TO OPERA

A former classical music and opera critic for the New York Times summarizes for general readers the evolution of opera and makes some predictions about its future.

In her debut, Schweitzer has several objectives: to explain what sometimes are very elementary aspects of music (the different ranges of human voices, a musical scale, and key terms), to describe, swiftly and chronologically, the careers and most notable works of the great composers, and to argue that opera is not moribund but is in fact thriving. Readers meet such iconic names as Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, Bellini, Rossini, Wagner, and many others, including modern and contemporary composers like Philip Glass, Thomas Adès, and Missy Mazzoli. The author escorts us through the plots and musical aspects of some classics—e.g., Lucia di Lammermoor and Madama Butterfly—and points out connections to popular culture (Guillaume Tell and The Lone Ranger, for example). Schweitzer introduces newcomers, as well, and some of the enormous personalities—singers and otherwise—who have been involved: Callas, Pavarotti, Zeffirelli et al. She also discusses the differences between and among opera, operetta, and musical. She has a few cultural points (and complaints) to make, too: the dominance of male composers, the current insistence that singers look as well as sing their parts, color-blind casting, the current fondness for “graphic depictions of sexual violence,” which she abhors. The author looks at the latest technical innovations, including surtitles (projections of translated lyrics), digital streaming, and large-screen productions. What emerges clearly is Schweitzer’s profound passion for opera, her determination to explain the elements of the art so that others might embrace it, and her deep belief that opera is both flourishing now and certain to continue doing so.

Affection is the subterranean river that frequently bursts through the surface to splash readers and, perhaps, convince them to put down the money for tickets.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-465-09693-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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