Living Opera

Living Opera

Living Opera

Living Opera


Living Operais a fascinating collection of 20 wide-ranging interviews with the preeminent opera professionals working on and behind the stage today.
Joshua Jampol invites opera-lovers to listen in as performers such as Renee Fleming, Natalie Dessay, Rolando Villazon and Placido Domingo speak in exceptionally frank terms about their strengths and weaknesses, and address such hard-hitting, enduring topics as how they deal with critics, vocal troubles, and balancing their career and family lives. We hear conductors such as James Conlon, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Kent Nagano discuss their likes and dislikes about the state of contemporary opera, their own inspirations, and whom they themselves hope to inspire. World-class directors such as Robert Carsen and Patrice Ch reau discuss the complexities involved in staging a successful opera, and how opera can remain relevant today. Jampol has unprecedented access to these major singers, conductors, and directors, and the table of contents reads like a "who's who" of the global opera world. Each interview highlights a distinctive voice, and Jampol brings immense knowledge and a wonderful flair to these conversations. He allows his subjects to follow their thoughts wherever they lead, and reveals in the process a more intimate, reflective side of the emotional and extravagant world of the lyric arts.
For anyone wanting to know more about the people behind the performances--what they think, how they feel, and who they really are--Living Operais full of delights and surprises.


The interview, especially when it enjoys the luxury of lingering, as these do, will reveal a personality—call it the voice. the point of the interviews here was to get to the voices of these twenty opera professionals and to get them to disclose something about their work and why they do it the way they do.

Hearing insiders explain it would, I thought, interest other opera outsiders besides me. How Seiji Ozawa’s approach differs from William Christie’s; or how Waltraud Meier’s style is distinct from Natalie Dessay’s. Remembering things they said, we in the audience could watch for them the next time they appear onstage, or match what they said with things we recalled from previous performances. and thus, though still outsiders, move a bit more toward greater understanding of opera.

I also wanted to give an international take on the subject and a vision across generations, which is why the interviews take place in Europe’s top houses with both younger and older professionals. Equally important, I’ve kept the flavor of the language of those who are not native English speakers —a good two-thirds of this book’s cast.

But living opera is as much about communicating as it is about singing, conducting, producing, and designing. Call it an audible subtext. It’s about how people so often hidden behind makeup and masks speak about their lives and livelihoods when those masks are off—or how they don’t, or can’t.

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