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Reading With Sea

A book club on your own time

It dawned on me just today what my self-study will be this 2010 year:  Opera & Classical music.  I had already been collecting certain “books for beginners”, such as Fred Plotkin’s Opera 101: A complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera and The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection: 350 Essential Works by Ted Libbey.  I received the Opera 101 book today and as I was opening the package and leafing through the book my mind suddenly snapped to attention and I made a decision: I am going to deliberately and intentionally study classical music and opera for this next entire year.  I have always wanted to be well versed and knowledgeable in both of these areas as I’ve been drawn to them for as long as I can remember and more often than not have opera playing on the radio.  Not to mention, I can hardly enjoy cooking without this background influencing my environment and it’s the only music I can study and write alongside.

I will keep you all updated on how my reading and learning in these two areas progress.  For now, since I have not received Ted Libbey’s book yet, I will give you a glimpse of Opera 101 from the foreward, which was written by Placido Domingo:

“One cannot help falling in love with opera all over again reading this book.  I also venture to say that if someone is a stranger to opera, he or she will have become a convert by the final page.
Fred Plotkin asks his readers to open their hearts without inhibitions to let music flow through them.  That, indeed, is the real secret to becoming a music enthusiast, because reacting emotionally to music is more important than analyzing it mentally. But in order to break down all barriers, the writer – in brilliant fashion – first guides the reader through a discussion of many different aspects of opera until a better understanding of it is achieved.  Just a look at the table of contents shows the reader that by the end of the book many topics will have been discussed – the origin and history of opera (from Baroque, Philip Glass, and even Stephen Sondheim), the excitement of going to the opera, the drama and the comedy in opera, Italian opera in contrast to French opera, the path from chamber opera to grand and even epic opera, a history of important opera houses, a guide of important recordings and videos, and suggestions for books and periodicals to read about this art form and its artists.
I’ve spent practically my entire life with music and in the theater (having been born to parents who were zarzuela performers), and I can say honestly that nothing in this book was redundant for me but proved a fascinating journey through the world that means so much to me.” – Placido Domingo

Now, granted, this is one of the worst forewards I have ever read, though not selfish and not written for the self-gratification of the author, Domingo, but just dry and essentially a recap of the table of contents.  Aren’t forewards suppose to be moving and full of meaning?  A chance to use the beauty of language to sum up an entire book in a few sentences that leave the reader drooling for more?  Maybe I am merely an idealist, but this foreward lacks and lacks and lacks and then ends abruptly.  In any case, Fred Plotkin, if you are asking me to open my heart to the music without inhibitions, then I will tell you that I am already there.

As previously stated, I will keep you all informed on my progress.  I haven’t read the first chapter yet, but tonight I will begin this self-study by listening to Wagner’s Der fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman).

-Sea

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