Opera News asks the question: “Is the Opera House the Last Safe Place to Practice the Pursuit of Style?”

The editors of Opera News have chosen Style as the theme for the August 2009 issue, and are publishing a variety of viewpoints on the subject. In his cover article, critic Philip Kennicott points out that style is the subject of both daydreams and debate, and asks readers to ponder: “Is the opera house the last safe place to practice the pursuit of style?” The witty cover photo-illustration shows a young woman in casual clothes, daydreaming about a finely-costumed opera-diva version of herself, who is pictured floating in the clouds above her head.

The late, beloved Wagnerian soprano Birgit Nilsson devoted almost an entire chapter of her memoirs, La Nilsson, to the experience of being stalked by a young woman, to whom she referred only as “ Miss N.” In “The Star and the Stalker,” author and actress Kathryn Leigh Scott reveals the fascinating story of Nell Theobald, the fan who tried to imitate a diva’s lifestyle, with tragic results.

Colleen Hill focuses on costume design over the years for the heroine of La Traviata, in an examination of “Style and Substance.” She illustrates some of the wardrobes devised for popular Violettas of past and present, revealing how they reflect changes in contemporary fashion.

Early music specialist Emma Kirkby, the British soprano known for her dedication to “Stile antico,” visits with David Patrick Stearns. For the last 30 years, record collectors have admired her refined and elegant singing, which for many has defined the sound of early vocal music. The soprano will tour the U.S. with lutenist Jakob Lindberg in the coming autumn, giving ten concerts.

Opera News for August has reviews of performances, recordings, books, and DVDs – among them extensive coverage of operatic goings-on around the world.


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