Tim Carter's Discussion of Librettos
By Kristen Seikaly
In terms of enjoying this book, it is best read in a number of ways by a certain set of readers. While those who are merely curious about opera would find this overwhelming, serious students or professionals of Italian opera have much to gain from this book. Simply reading it through may still prove difficult though, as it is far too easy to miss a nuanced yet important detail.
This reviewer would recommend reading this book in one of three ways. First, one could read this with study materials in hand such as a notebook, a highlighter, and a recording of each opera. Although Carter goes into great detail regarding the relationship between text and music, it will always be easier to process this discussion while actually listening to the music.
Second, this book could simply serve as a reference to be opened up as needed. If, for example, someone was doing research on Italian recitative, or aria forms, or a particular period in Italian opera, they could simply flip to the appropriate chapter, or find the subject in the index.
Finally, this book would serve its reader best as a companion to a course or a group discussion on Italian opera. Since there is so much useful knowledge in this book, it would be easiest to digest it all through the structure of a course. It would also be worth using as a tool to discuss the role text and history plays in modern operatic productions.
There are numerous books available on the study of Italian opera. This one, however, offers great consideration to what has ironically become the lost language of opera: the language itself. In Tim Carter’s biography, it notes that he teaches numerous lectures and workshops on the subject. Since we can’t all be so lucky as to attend one of those, he has been kind enough to offer us his specific and unique knowledge in a well-organized and readily available manner.
Kristen Seikaly is a freelance writer, singer, and voice teacher in the Philadelphia area. Additionally, she runs Operaversity, a website geared towards providing resources on opera for artists and audiences.
She tweets at @KristenSeikaly.
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