Here at the Aria Serious tower the lab is dominated by a large bookshelf filled with reference material (we try to look it up as opposed to make it up when we can). Dominated by 4 volumes of The Grove Dictionary of Opera we're pleased to announce a new book has been added to the shelf: Weep, Shudder, Die: A Guide to Loving Opera by Robert Levine. While we don't need a guide to loving opera we think the book serves as an excellent, non-threatening, introduction to the opera curious as well as the opera crazy.
Less a straight narrative, we find ourselves using the book more as a reference guide to pull little factoids and tidbits that we can use in our otherwise incredibly dry press releases or to impress Dr. Nic Reveles, our Education Director, while in the break room since he knows everything. Really, everything.
Mr. Levine clearly loves opera, passionately, but does not approach the art form with that extreme hushed reverence of many books – instead his take on opera is one of delight, wonderment, a bit of tongue and cheek humor, which we appreciate here at Aria Serious. We did name ourselves Aria Serious after all...
The book is broken into chapters that cover all the major sectors of opera – German, English, Italian, French and Russian are all covered. Mozart, incidentally, gets his own chapter. The operas are broken down into Who’s Who (cast list), What’s Happening (a pithy synopsis) and then a short paragraph or two about that this opera is important and things the reader should notice in each act. If you’ve read the indispensable Ticket to the Opera by Phil G. Goulding you know what to expect. We’re pleased to say the operas covered in Weep, Shudder, Die are quite thorough for a 235 page book – our favorites Wozzeck and Peter Grimes are covered, as are all the major Verdi’s and Puccini’s. We’d love to read about more post-1950 operas but we’ve yet to find any book that covers anything in depth past Peter Grimes (another favorite, Pizetti’s Murder in the Cathedral is absent in this book).
Weep, Shudder , Die is available in both traditional media (you know, a physical book with pages you turn) and in e-book format from HarperCollins.
A copy of this book was provided to Aria Serious for review purposes.