B0753. PETER G. DAVIS. The American Opera Singer: The Lives and Adventures of America's Great Singers in Opera and Concert, from 1825 to the Present. New York, Doubleday, 1997. 626pp. Index; Bibliography; Photos; DJ. Final copy! 9780385421737 (9–385-42173-7)
“In America today, opera has never been more popular, and one reason for this is, no doubt, that American opera singers are fixtures on every leading opera stage throughout the world. In this lively and engrossing account, Peter G. Davis, music critic for New York magazine and a leading opera authority, tells the story of how these plucky, resilient and supremely talented American singers have transformed this venerable European-born art form and made it their own.
Starting with opera's arrival in America in the early nineteenth century, Davis shows how American singers grew in sophistication and stature along with the country. From the nineteenth-century pioneers who crashed the gates of Europe's elite opera circles, to the glamorous singers of the early twentieth century who were also Hollywood stars and publicity magnets, to the highly professional singers since World War II who not only have gained European acceptance but now dominate the industry, this lively and highly readable account chronicles the extraordinary lives and adventures of these larger-than-life personalities. Included are Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, Richard Tucker, Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Lawrence Tibbett, and a galaxy of others whose stories are as dramatic and compelling as the roles they sang on stage.
Full of prima-donna antics, hilarious backstage anecdotes, and performance lore, THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER will delight anyone who has felt the magic of opera, and will provide a new canon of American singing sure to provoke spirited debate among aficionados.
Trained as a musician and composer, Peter G. Davis has been writing about music for over thirty years in such publications as the New York Times, The Times of London, High Fidelity, and Opera News. He is currently music critic for New York magazine and lives in New York City.”
- Ned Ludd
“According to Peter Davis, music critic for New York magazine and author of THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER, American opera singers have always faced somewhat of an uphill battle in their quest for artistic recognition. Opera has never been an art form that Americans considered their own, and thus a repertory of pieces written and performed in English are few and far between; add to this the problems early opera pioneers had in finding appropriate vocal coaching, familiarizing themselves with a wide variety of languages and musical styles, and overcoming a peculiarly American aversion to stage performers, and you can see that--for aspiring opera stars--singing in America has truly been a challenge.
THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER is a combination history and critique: Davis first traces the evolution of opera in North America and then comments on its practice today. Throughout the book he artfully limns the larger-than-life personalities of such stars as Beverly Sills, Frederica von Stade, Leontyne Price, and Richard Tucker in entertaining, perceptive prose. For opera lovers of any nationality, THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER makes for a stimulating reading experience.”
- Library Journal