Review: Gossett, Divas and Scholars
Frankly, we don’t know what the late, great Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko thought about Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, or any of the other icons of Italian opera. (We’ll look through his collected columns.) But in a review of Philip Gossett’s Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera Marc Geelhoed from Time Out magazine draws a direct comparison between Gossett’ s first-hand account of the opera and Royko’s famously shrewd journalism. Geelhoed writes:
Mike Royko had an instinctive love for the theory of how the deal went down, but what mattered most was seeing first hand how the theory played out in the real world. Musicologist Philip Gossett has spent his career at the University of Chicago, but his scholarship resides in the Royko school of street-smart reporting. Gossett isn’t content to leave a groaning shelf of unread books as his legacy; he’s gotten out into the Opera house and made a difference in the performing world. With Rossini’s operas in particular, opera houses have relied on Gossett’s expertise to coach singers and assist conductors with regard to style before a production opens. Opera lovers of all levels of musical knowledge should rejoice that his recollections are now available for their perusal.
Enlivening his history with reports from his own experiences with major opera companies at venues ranging from the Metropolitan and Santa Fe Operas to the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro, Divas and Scholars will enthrall both aficionados of Italian opera and newcomers seeking a reliable introduction to it—in all its incomparable grandeur and timeless allure.
Read an excerpt.