Opera is the grandest of art forms. Part of the thrill of attending a performance is to sit in a glorious theater built just for that purpose, knowing that the greatest voices of the past and present have been heard there. The most important of these theaters—in Milan, Vienna, London, Paris, Barcelona, and New York—have a distinctive character and history that has profoundly affected the evolution of opera.
Opera expert Fred Plotkin examines these fabled houses, focusing on what makes each of them unique and significant. Using audio and video recordings and illustrations, he evokes the glamour and fascination that surround them, the cities that built them, and the legendary artists who performed on their stages.
Plotkin, author of Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, lectures for the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the New York Philharmonic.
The Vienna State Opera
Only the Wiener Staatsoper, as it is called in the Austrian capital, can claim to compete with La Scala’s status. This is because no city in the world is more intensely connected to classical music (and, by extension, opera) than Vienna. Operas by Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss had their premieres in Vienna, and the city has always had a strong Italian presence, making it a musical crossroads between the Italian and German opera worlds. It is a theater full of traditions and superstitions, and one that has had many golden ages, one of the most notable when it was run by the brilliant and formidable Gustav Mahler.
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