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Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera [Paperback]

By Fred Plotkin (Author) & Placido Domingo (Author)
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Item description for Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera by Fred Plotkin & Placido Domingo...

Explains how to develop an appreciation for opera by furnishing a concise history of opera, a glossary of terms, a list of books and recordings, a listener's guide to key operatic works, and advice on attending a performance

Publishers Description
Opera is the fastest growing of all the performing arts, attracting audiences of all ages who are enthralled by the gorgeous music, vivid drama, and magnificent production values. If you've decided that the time has finally come to learn about opera and discover for yourself what it is about opera that sends your normally reserved friends into states of ecstatic abandon, this is the book for you.
"Opera 101" is recognized as the standard text in English for anyone who wants to become an opera lover--a clear, friendly, and truly complete handbook to learning how to listen to opera, whether on the radio, on recordings, or live at the opera house. Fred Plotkin, an internationally respected writer and teacher about opera who for many years was performance manager of the Metropolitan Opera, introduces the reader (whatever his or her level of musical knowledge) to all the elements that make up opera, including:
- A brief, entertaining history of opera;
- An explanation of key operatic concepts, from vocal types to musical conventions;
- Hints on the best way to approach the first opera you attend and how to best understand what is happening both offstage and on;
- Lists of recommended books and recordings, and the most complete traveler's guide to opera houses around the world.
The major part of "Opera 101" is devoted to an almost minute-by-minute analysis of eleven key operas, ranging from Verdi's thunderous masterpiece "Rigoletto" and Puccini's electrifying "Tosca" through works by Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, Offenbach, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, to the psychological complexities of Richard Strauss's "Elektra." Once you have completed "Opera 101," you will be prepared to see and hear any opera you encounter, thanks to this book's unprecedentedly detailed and enjoyable method of revealing the riches of opera.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera by Fred Plotkin & Placido Domingo has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Booklist - 11/15/1994 page 569
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1995 page 99
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 501
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 540
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 703

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Hyperion
Pages   512
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.42" Width: 5.5" Height: 1.13"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1994
Publisher   Hyperion
Age  18
ISBN  0786880252  
ISBN13  9780786880256  

Availability  0 units.

More About Fred Plotkin & Placido Domingo

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Fred Plotkin is the author of the bestselling and acclaimed Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, which is the standard text in North American for discovering the glories of opera. He writes for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Opera News, Das Opernglas, and Gourmet. He lectures on music for leading institutions, including Columbia University, the Juilliard School, and the Smithsonian. Plotkin is a popular guest on the intermission features of the Chevron Texaco-Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, and many shows on National Public Radio. An expert on Italy, he has written five definitive books on Italian food and wine.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts > Theater > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Biographies > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Biographies
4Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > General
5Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Instruments & Performers > Vocal
6Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Musical Genres > Opera > General
7Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Reference > General
8Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Reference
9Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Music > Theory, Composition & Performance > Instruction & Study

Reviews - What do customers think about Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera?

Night at the Opera Fun and Informative  Dec 18, 2007
A great overview of over 100 operas - the plot, composers, artists, background news and gossip in a vey interesting and sometimes humorous style. It's fun to read and be informed at the same time.
Great book, but there are hidden costs.  Jan 26, 2006
"Opera 101" is well written, easy to understand, and very informative. I wish every subject had a reference book so excellent.

That said, there is one problem with the book. The included discussion of eleven key operas is most beneficial if the reader can get ahold of certain recommended recordings. To purchase those recordings is extremely expensive. I bought "Opera 101" because I didn't know anything about opera, and one of the first things I learned as result of buying this book is that a single opera recording can cost more than $50. Unless you have a well stocked public library, a friend with an extensive opera collection, or money to burn, you will not get the most out of "Opera 101".
Glad to see this book well-received  Dec 21, 2004
It is most heartening to see that opera lovers and novices almost universally agree that this book is excellent, informative, and illuminating. I was maybe 14 when I asked a salesperson in a bookstore "do you have a book that will teach me about opera?" Without hesitation, I was directed to "Opera 101".

I was skeptical. However, I am no longer!

Mr. Plotkin is experienced, informed, and well-read. So as not to belabour the structure of the book (since there are many descriptions of it) I'll say that the idea of walking someone through 11 operas is excellent. That Mr. Plotkin picks a particular recording (with commentary per track) is an indespensible fusion with the book.

That is to say Mr. Plotkin has carefully chosen themes, operas, and what he believes to be superior recordings of the above mentioned as illustrations of what opera can be to the average listener. His decisions on recordings are in no way arbitrary, and he takes special care to choose recordings more easily found than those that might be "better" but are less easily found outside of major metropolitan areas.

Let's remember, the original version of this book was written before the internet made just about any recording available in any area. He admits that sometimes he's arbitrary (especially with his recommendation for Il Barbiere di Siviglia...YUCK) but he always explains his good reasons for choosing inferior performances on disc. His are not "Gospel" recommendations, but those he thinks best illustrate the power of opera in recorded form, customs, and the sheer beauty of the human voice.

Beyond that, Mr. Plotkin performs a yeoman's task of qualifying the different kinds of voices in opera, provides an 90+ page history of opera, and gives the average American a primer in the esoteric "etiquette" of attending an opera performance.

Invaluable for its tutorial format, universal as a detailed introduction; "Opera 101" is a MUST for an opera lover's collection.
Highly Recommended for a Newcomer to Opera  Nov 20, 2004
If you are on the fence and want to dive into opera, but feel intimidated or confused by it, this book is essential. Mr. Plotkin writes in an engaging style that is neither preachy nor simple. While he certainly has his opinions, he tempers them by offering arguments in favor of other interpretations and other recordings. Before reading his book, opera to me was inpenetrable and perhaps something to be tackled years from now when time would be more available. Yet, because he did such an effective job in his book of introducing and explaining opera, i am now an ardent fan and one who makes the time to listen to and see operas. Bravo Mr. Plotkin!! Encore!
Operating manual for opera attendance  Jan 14, 2004
Having read about a dozen books that tout themselves as introductions to opera, I found "Opera 101" to be perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch. In an ever-so-slight way, it is at times a bit preachy and a bit overobvious. You will feel occasionally like you are in a high-school music appreciation class, or reading an operating manual. On the other hand, Plotkin leaves absolutely nothing out, and no stone unturned, and for that he is to be commended. Every possible question is answered, and answered thoroughly. In addition, the appendices are chock full o' valuable information (a list of all the major and mid-major opera houses all over the world; books for further reading; recommended CD recordings and DVD filmings; etc.). And you have the feeling at all times that Ploktin knows what he's talking about.

This is the PERFECT book for any adult who knows absolutely zilch about opera but who wants to learn it all, and learn it all out of a single source.


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