"Opera is community, comfort, art, voice, breath, life. It's hope."
All art exists to make life more bearable. For Alison Kinney, it was the wild, fantastical world of opera that transformed her listening and her life. Whether we're listening for the first time or revisiting the arias that first stole our hearts, Avidly Reads Opera welcomes readers and listeners to a community full of friendship, passion, critique-and, always, beautiful music.
In times of delirious, madcap fun and political turmoil, opera fans have expressed their passion by dispatching records into the cosmos, building fairy-tale castles, and singing together through the arduous work of social activism. Avidly Reads Opera is a love letter to the music and those who love it, complete with playlists, a crowdsourced tip sheet from ultra-fans to newbies, and stories of the turbulent, genre-busting, and often hilarious history of opera and its audiences.
Across five acts-and the requisite intermission-Alison Kinney takes us everywhere opera's rich melodies are heard, from the cozy bedrooms of listeners at home, to exclusive music festivals, to protests, and even prisons.
Part of the Avidly Reads series, this slim book gives us a new way of looking at culture. With the singular blend of personal reflection and cultural criticism featured in the series, Avidly Reads Opera is an homage to the marvelous, sensational world of opera for the casual viewer.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited or by the publishers or by their respective licensors: all rights reserved.
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Alison Kinney is the author of Hood. Her writing on opera, history, and culture has appeared in many venues, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review Daily, Lapham's Quarterly, The New York Times, VAN Magazine, The Guardian, Harper's, The New Republic, Hyperallergic, The Believer, and The Village Voice. She is Assistant Professor of Writing at Eugene Lang College, The New School.
Explaining a musical genre's appeal for the uninitiated is a tricky feat, but Kinney's personal approach and passion for her subject distinguish this book from other 'opera 101' attempts. An appealing primer by a fan, for (potential) fans. * Library Journal * When making a solo trip to the opera, almost everyone who wasn't raised on the art faces this question: 'Do I really belong here?' Alison Kinney says 'yes,' and invites you to ride along with her: to performances at Wagner's theater, and also, less conventionally, at a prison. She's insightful and entertaining, but not merely good company. Her larger conversation with the tradition-regarding its pleasures and its problems-should excite anyone eager to see opera with new eyes. * Seth Colter Walls, <i>New York Times</i> contributing music critic * Alison Kinney's words are like the opinionated arguments you seek out from a friend you trust and respect enough to disagree with-but only occasionally. The energy, care, and excitement are palpable and propel you through this chatty romp through the repertoire. From classic operas to lesser-known and recent works, this book holds opera accountable for its sins while also walking humbly through the halls of a genre that can still say important and trenchant things about social justice today. Kinney shows us that there is a seat for everyone in the opera audience, and welcomes us in. * Naomi Andre, University of Michigan *
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