Book Reviews - Sallie Eden Book Reviews 2010

Living Opera by Joshua Jampol – OUP hardback

This book comprises Jampol’s interviews with 20 key figures from the opera world – conductors, singers, music directors etc. He covers everything from pre-performance superstitions to favourite composers and the relevance of opera today. Using a brief framework of questions he lets each interview go where the subject takes it, drawing out their strengths and feelings as well as details of their private and professional lives.

The chapters are of varying interest, depending on the personality of the interviewee. Some, like Placido Domingo, I’d love to meet; enthusiasm and the desire to develop the next generation came across. Others seemed arrogant and complacent, like the singer who, in answer to a question about her view of the public said “I’m not there to please them”.

Verdict: Although aiming to help move “outsiders” toward a greater understanding of opera, this really is a book for opera buffs. ***

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