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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 6, No. 5

Les revues dédiées à l'opéra / Vocal Magazines

February 1, 2001

Version française...

Opera News

$5.15 an issue ($45 USD /yr - 12 issues) 212-769-7080

This venerable publication is an indispensable source of information on the opera scene in North America and abroad. Published monthly by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Inc., its relationship with the Met in editorial and critical content is kept at arm's length. However, longtime readers of Opera News can remember a time when there were no reviews of Met performances and criticism of the organization was practically non-existent. Also it used to be a fortnightly publication during the Met season, almost unthinkable in today's economics of classical music publishing. This labour-intensive format was abandoned a few years ago in favour of the current monthly frequency, with better binding, expanded content and glossier packaging. Starting about three years ago, one noticed a shift from a rather staid and rigid style to more trendy content designed to attract a younger readership. Early experimentation of photo spreads of thinly-clad, hunky baritones the likes of Nathan Gunn and Richard Bernstein seemed to have disappeared, replaced by the more fully clothed versions. Some of the articles border on the tabloid, such as the juicy three-part series by Alberto Innaurato on the scandale at La Scala. Another innovation is the occasional interview of famous people about their opera-going habits. Recently, there was a three-part series by Kelli Rae Patton, a "twenty-something"opera neophyte. Some readers welcome the broadening of the magazine's coverage, while true-blue opera buffs decry the dilution of content. Yet there is no denying that the new style makes for a livelier and more gossipy read. - Joseph So


Opera Quarterly

$15.50 ($42 USD /yr - 4 issues) 716-342-3852

Published by Oxford University Press, this journal is not a magazine but a scholarly publication, with a large editorial board made up of academics, critics, journalists, and performers such as Marilyn Horne, with a policy of peer-review of manuscripts sent in for publication. It is not meant for casual opera-lovers, but those with the appropriate background will find the often rather exoteric articles highly informative and useful research tools. Periodic issues on composers—I am thinking of the Wagner and Strauss issues—contain excellent articles and comprehensive critical discographies written by some of the best scholars on voice today. Also valuable are the in-depth profiles on singers, many of them essentially forgotten or unjustly neglected, such as soprano Ellen Faull in the current issue (Vol. 16, no. 3). Other regular features are reviews of books, videos and recordings, plus a challenging crossword puzzle. Unlike the other publications, there are few illustrations, all in black and white. Even though at $42 USD per year for four issues, it seems fairly pricey, it is well worth the expense for the serious opera lover.

- Joseph So


Cambridge Opera Journal


Not unlike Opera Quarterly, this is another scholarly publication. It contains articles on all aspects of European, American, non-Western opera, and musical theatre. The papers are carefully researched and well documented, often complete with musical illustrations. In addition, each issue has one or more review articles on recent publications of importance in the field. Cambridge Opera Journal is published three times a year—in March, July, and November, with a subscription price of $55 USD. Recent articles include essays on Phedre and the operatic stage; structure and expression in the scenes of Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie; and "Grieving in the mirrors of Verdi's willow Song: Desdemona, Barbara, and a ‘feeble, strange voice'. "As you can see, not exactly for beginners! But it is a valuable publication for musicologists and opera professionals, as well as serious students of opera. - Joseph So


Opera International

(580 FF /yr - 11 issues) 011-33-1-4289-0919

La revue « Opera International, le magazine de l'art lyrique y´ de Paris est l'une des meilleures au monde. Ses numéros sont minces (moins de 100 pages), mais d'un contenu substantiel, car ils ne comportent que relativement peu d'annonces. Les entrevues exclusives et les dossiers, tout particulièrement les discographies rétrospectives, y occupent une place d'honneur, de même que les critiques, souvent illustrées en couleurs, de productions d'opéra récentes, en France, en Europe et dans d'autres régions du monde. Même si la rédaction insiste tout particulièrement sur l'actualité « hexagonale », la rédaction déploie des efforts marqués pour justifier l'épithète d'« international » que s'est donnée le magazine. C'est ainsi que la section « Programmes » constitue sans doute l'une des meilleures sources imprimées à consulter quand on veut savoir ce qui se passe et se passera sur toutes les grandes, et moins grandes, scènes lyriques du monde. Mais la section qui, sans nul doute, retiendra le plus l'attention est celle des recensions d'ouvrages, d'enregistrements vidéo, mais surtout d'enregistrements audio, qui n'occupe jamais moins de 15 à 20 pages. Côté audio, et que l'on parle de disques d'opéra avant tout, mais aussi d'oratorio et de chant classique, je ne connais pas de magazines qui mette autant de soin à rendre compte de tout ce qui paraît, et en particulier de ces enregistrements dits « pirates » que les autres revues ont tendance à dédaigner. Ces recensions critiques d'Opera International, œuvres de toute une armée de collaborateurs et souvent comparatives, sont toujours très précises et très bien documentées.

Seule ombre au tableau.: le réseau de distribution canadien de cette belle revue n'est plus ce qu'il a déjà été, mais il y a encore quelques endroits, à Montréal à tout le moins, où l'on peut la trouver. - Pierre Marc Bellemare


Opera Canada

$5.95 ($20 /year - 4 issues) 1-800-222-5097

The quarterly magazine founded by the late Ruby Mercer recently celebrated 40 years of recording Canada's operatic history. Though Opera Canada has undergone a new graphic design, the basic formula is still intact. Half the magazine is devoted to reviews of productions in Canada and abroad, recent recordings and books. Profiles and interviews of current stars, past favourites, and young singers, all with a Canadian flavour, are regular features. Not available on the web. - Wah Keung Chan


Classical Singer

$6.95 at Tower in Toronto ($54 USD /yr -11 issues) 973-378-9549

Formerly the New York City Vocal Newsletter, the strength of this publication is its large listing of vocal and opera competitions and auditions, along with interviews and features written for the singer. Visit http://www.classicalsinger.com for the html version of their latest issue (free) and for their directories (membership required).

- Wah Keung Chan

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