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eBook Prima Donna: A History ePub

eBook Prima Donna: A History ePub

by Rupert Christiansen

  • ISBN: 0140083782
  • Subcategory: Biography
  • Author: Rupert Christiansen
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 3, 1987)
  • Pages: 368
  • ePub book: 1398 kb
  • Fb2 book: 1516 kb
  • Other: lrf docx azw mbr
  • Rating: 4.5
  • Votes: 525


A guide to opera's greatest female singers over the last 300 years.


Kulwes Kulwes
Rupert Christiansen is the best living writer on opera in English, and this book is definitely something new, and remain so20 years after publication--a history of the art from as seen through the lives of the great sopranos who have created and recreated it. He is especially good on Malibran, Garcia, and Jenny Lind, though Kirsten Flagstad, Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland are all superb. If you want to read him on opera regularly, he has a column in Britain's Daily Telegraph.Anyway it is impossible to overpraise Prima Donna.---Elliott Sirkin
Zieryn Zieryn
Hugely entertaining book that follows centuries of phenomenon called "prima donna" (it was "virtuosa" and "cantatrice" in earlier times) from now-fogotten Mrs Tofts to present times - it definitely needs fresh update as we got newer voices in the meantime. Christiansen has a gift of turning potentially dry facts into interesting story and compares how one generations or style influenced the later artists. Along the way he has a thing or two to say about composers and conductors who had to put up with spoiled singers ("Nobody knows the Troubels I've seen" Rudolf Bing about Helen Traubel) and more often than not we got a picture of women who simply pushed everybody else around them to respect high standards. True, Christiansen has his own opinions about voices and I don't always agree with him but it's still the book is fascinating peek in a world that has its own rules. In the last chapter, he wisely recognizes the curious fact that people tend to appreciate stars of yesterday more than contemporary ones and that this is nothing new, every generation is showing this tendency to put up old names on pedestal and only the long gone stars are the real ones. I read this book several times from start to finish and always enjoyed it immensely.
Wire Wire
There have been countless books written about the specialized musician known as the opera singer, and quite a few about female opera singers in particular; still, Rupert Christiansen's effort from the 1980s holds up well. As is logical, his discussion is basically chronological, starting with the rise of the female singer in the later Baroque period (as the previously dominant castrati waned in favor), proceeding through the heyday of the adored prima donna in the nineteenth century and concluding with a look at the scene in modern times (the book now, of course, is dated, stopping with the 1970s). Christiansen's chapters, however, are not only devoted to differing vocal types and their evolution (the coloratura "nightingale," the Wagnerian singer), but also different national schools and influential geographic centers, such as New York and Vienna. These shifting foci lend the book additional perspectives and interest, though occasionally the organization necessitates some backtracking as far as pure chronology is concerned. In a fairly compact volume overall only a few individual singers can be discussed in any great detail, and Christiansen's zeal for summarizing leads him to make some questionable assertions; lumping Callas, Sutherland and Horne together as singers with "enormous" voices, for example. Still, he has a definite gift for sketching complete musical personalities in relatively few words that makes this volume a consistently enjoyable and informative read. Incidentally, it is worth seeking out the Viking hardback, as the photographs included are different, more numerous and interesting than in my Penguin paperback reprint.