American Opera

American Opera

3.4 (5 ratings by Goodreads)
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Tired of Tannhuser? Bored with Bohme? Then open your imagination to the unexpected pleasures of American opera.With this generous, accessible overview, Elise K. Kirk provides a lively history of one of America's liveliest arts. A treasure trove of information on a substantial, heretofore neglected repertoire, "American Opera" sketches musical traits and provides plot summaries, descriptions of sets and stagings, and biographical details on performers, composers, and librettists for more than 100 American operas, many of which have received unjustifiably scant attention since their premieres. From the spectacle and melodrama of William Dunlap's "Pizarro in Peru" (1800) and the pathos of Caryl Florio's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1882) to the chilling psychological drama of Jack Beeson's "Lizzie Borden" (1965) and the lyric elegance of John Corigliano's "The Ghosts of Versailles" (1991), opera in America displays the energy and diversity of the nation itself. Kirk shows that this rich, varied repertoire includes far more than familiar jewels such as "Porgy and Bess", "Candide", "Susannah", and "The Consul".
Beginning with the English-influenced harlequinade of the revolutionary period, Kirk traces the development of comic opera, the rise of melodramatic romanticism, the emergence of American grand opera and verismo, and the explosion of eclectic forms that characterized American opera in the twentieth century. Devoting particular attention to the accomplishments of women and black composers and librettists, Kirk explores how American operas have incorporated indigenous elements such as jazz, popular song, folk music, Native American motifs, and Hollywood's cinematic techniques. She also discusses the impact of radio and television broadcasting on opera in America, the advent of opera workshops in universities, the integration of multimedia effects into recent opera productions, and innovations such as co-commissioning and joint staging that have helped sustain American opera as federal support has declined.An engaging introduction for neophytes, "American Opera" also offers an array of welcome surprises for diehard opera fans.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 480 pages
  • 161 x 236.2 x 31.2mm | 796.24g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252026233
  • 9780252026232

Review quote

"Chronological, orderly and agreeable to read. " -- Joan Peyser, Opera News "Well-documented, enjoyable ... highly recommended." -- Library Journal "A readable history, chock full of fascinating, not always widely known facts, of an art form the author believes to be the best indicator of a young nation's cultural and social history." -- Michael Mark, American Record Guide "Fill[s] a gap in US music history... Kirk places her subject within its historical and social contexts and includes information on opera plots and compositional styles... Highly readable." -- Choice "Kirk succeeds in presenting the colorful history of opera in the United States in a clear, understandable, and appealing way. The approach ties opera and society together, and presents opera as a reflection of American history... A vivid and engaging narrative that ties together a seemingly disparate repertory." -- Brian Doherty, Journal of the Music Library Association "By providing information and context for numerous lesser-known works, Kirk offers producers a source for unusual and important repertory... [She] provides teachers with a comprehensive and well-organized survey of the subject... Provides fertile ground indeed." -- Carl J. Ratner, The Opera Quarterly ADVANCE PRAISE "An instant classic and a standard reference work in its field. Kirk is a skilled and thorough researcher with a keen sense of what is most important and interesting in the vast array of information she has explored... Her work sheds new light on modern composers and works that may be familiar to American opera-lovers, and she gives a tantalizing account of long-forgotten operatic treasures from our past." - Joseph McClellan "From melodrama to movies, Kirk creates an over-arching context that explains the unique character of American opera. Her book is an important study of the core works of the American opera canon - of value to opera producers and lovers of the art form, as well as anyone who wants to learn more about the cultural history of the United States." - Marc Scorca, president, Opera America "Fills a tremendous void in American musical history. Her authoritative and engaging overview is a must for every music library." - Plato Karayanis, former general director, Dallas Opera "What an amazing book, articulate and well researched. It is probably the most important book to date dealing with American opera. I highly recommend [it]." - Evelyn Lear, soprano
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About Elise K. Kirk

Elise K. Kirk, author of Musical Highlights from the White HouseandMusic at the White House, is the founder and former editor of award-winning The Dallas Opera Magazine and has served on the National Advisory Board of the Kennedy Center.
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Rating details

5 ratings
3.4 out of 5 stars
5 20% (1)
4 40% (2)
3 20% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 20% (1)
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