Thames & Hudson, £18.95
Verdi and/or Wagner, By Peter Conrad
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 08 March 2013
The Ring or Rigoletto? Tristan or Traviata? In their joint bicentenary year, can one - asks Peter Conrad - truly love both operatic birthday boys?
His book on their chalk-and-cheese qualities feels more like a coloratura aria - full of virtuoso runs - than a solid recitative for pure beginners.
Still, all his readers will enjoy this antiphonal account of Wagner and Verdi's parallel evolution as rival standard-bearers for Romantic musical nationalism. Conrad does a fine job of sharing his love, but hints that we must choose.
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