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Article Published: 15 Oct 2021


The Impossible Art: Adventures in Opera
By Matthew Aucoin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In this “artist’s notebook,” composer and conductor Matthew Aucoin describes the genesis of his and librettist Sarah Ruhl’s new opera, Eurydice, which had its world premiere at LA Opera last winter and will bow at the Met this fall. He charts four centuries of Orphean operas before delving into other works that have influenced his art, like Verdi’s Shakespearean operas, Stavinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, and Adès’ The Exterminating Angel. Aucoin also includes a list of recommended opera recordings.


Avidly Reads Opera
By Alison Kinney
NYU Press

Kinney, a professor of writing at The New School, blends personal reflection and cultural criticism in this volume designed for the casual operagoer, part of the Avidly Reads series about culture and human emotion. In a narrative structured in five “acts,” she takes readers to the myriad environments where they can hear opera: from their own cozy bedrooms to music festivals and even prisons. Included are recommended playlists and tips, crowdsourced from people ranging from newbies to diehard opera fanatics.


The Operetta Empire
By Micaela Baranello
University of Rochester Press

The author offers a detailed look at the vibrant theatrical culture of Vienna in the final years of the Austro- Hungarian Empire and examines how operettas often transgressed societal norms, becoming grist for contemporary debates about gender, nationality, and labor. Baranello presents case studies of works by Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, Oscar Straus, and Leo Fall, assessing their operettas through the lens of current musicological conversations about genre hybridity and middlebrow culture.

This article was published in the Fall 2021 issue of Opera America Magazine.