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 Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
Although it began as a place to present entertainments of all sort, the theater at Covent Garden quickly evolved into a venue for opera in part because of the early-18th-century arrival in London of George Frideric Handel, the greatest opera composer of his time. During his years of living there, the city took its place with Naples as Europe’s two most important centers of opera. Though the Royal Opera House experienced a rough patch at the end of the last century, many international observers now think that under the dynamic artistic leadership of Antonio Pappano it offers the consistently highest level of opera of any theater, nourishing a generation of British and international talent that is dominating the world’s stages.
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