Sunday, 12 September 2010

20 Ways to Talk About Opera

Photo, for once, be me. On an armchair. Yep. An armchair. I'm available for weddings and books on armchair photo shoots only.

Being (hugely likely) the one and only segment in the series Hairman at the Bookstore I thought I would dig out my sand coloured corduroy jacket, thrust my pipe into my mouth and bring to your attention some operatic tomes to peruse at home with a mug of cooking sherry. Unfortunately quite a lot of opera books fall into the charge whatever you want area of retail so prices tend to be as flexible as a Rossinian plot making this a sporadic segment at best. But enough of my moral outraging. It's time to sell a book!

The book in question is Living Opera (Oxford University Press) by Paris based American scribe Joshua Jampol. Roping in the likes of Pierre Boulez, Robert Carsen, Plácido Domingo, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Natalie Dessay, Simon Keenlyside (and another fourteen other opera luminaries) he partakes in a series of interviews / conversations that centre on the participants approach to opera / music making, giving a snapshot of both the opera world and the participants themselves.

So what is it like? Erm, so far I've only read the first interview with Pierre Boulez and interesting page flicking it made – though I have to admit to complete ignorance when the discussion focused briefly on tonal music. But generally speaking it made for an engaging introduction to the book with a flavour of Boulez the person appearing alongside his ideas on music and opera.

Whether or not the remaining interviews follow in the same appealing vein is a mystery I'm planning to solve over the coming weeks. But in case the book slips into the black hole of publishing and ends up taking the warehouse / bargain bin / pulping route I thought I'd bring it to your attention now...thereby saving myself from having to write a review and simply enjoying it at my leisure while buffing my hair with a silk duster and imagining Joyce DiDonato is reading her interview to me dressed as Rosina...umm, where was I?

Buying advice is the usual places – Amazon UK Germany France Canada, Waterstones, Blackwells, WH Smith, Barnes & Noble. I picked up my copy for a wallet friendly £11 from one of Amazon's independents compared to the £16-£17 the biggies are charging, although these prices are the norm for hardback copies. Remember to figure in delivery charges to your abode – but you won't need me to tell you that. And please note that the book is currently only available in English.

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