Before you hit the road this audition season, grab a fabulous book to go with you. We sometimes forget what it is like to really lose ourselves in a good book, so why not start again during your audition travels! The Modern Singer team loves to read books about our favorite composers, singers, and helpful tips for our craft. Our in-between-time reading can also be informative and give us background information about the composers of the works we are singing. Today, you can find just about any topic you might be interested about at your local book store or online. Before you leave for your next trip, pack a book for the road and enjoy the journey. Here a few books I have loved reading and some that are on my reading list to read next!
Mozart’s Women – Jane Glover
By now you have probably sung at least one piece by Mozart, either in a school setting or a professional experience. We have learned about Mozart's life and works, but this book goes a little deeper than what we have already learned. Jane Glover focuses her book on Mozart's life, but writes it from a prospective of the women he is closest to. It is so interesting to see how these women were such an important part of not only his life, but of his music. I loved that this book brought you the history of Mozart through a completely different vein. After reading this, I felt like I had a better understanding of him and of the world around him at the time. I also learned so much about his sister, mother, sister in law, and his wife than I ever expected to. I would highly recommend this book to any lovers of history or Mozart.
The Librettist of Venice: The Remarkable Life of Lorenzo Da Ponte – Rodney Bolt
For those of us who love Mozart, you also have to love the man who was instrumental to much of his success. Lorenzo Da Ponte was an amazing librettist who crafted some of the most beloved operas to this day. If you haven’t taken the time to read about him, Bolt’s book is a great place to start. Knowing about the librettist of your piece can be just as important as knowing about the composer. Da Ponte was one of the most prolific librettists of his day, and has quite the life story. If you find his works to be interesting and enjoyable, why not add this to your reading list as well?
Beethoven’s Hair – Russell Martin
Another favorite read of mine is Beethoven’s Hair by Russell Martin. This book takes you on a journey from the time of Beethoven's death to the time this book was actually written, and follows a small lock of Beethoven's hair. Now, if you think following a lock of hair for years sounds like a boring story, you have to read this! The lock of hair was cut by a student of Beethoven's at the time of his death and was passed down for generations until it was sold to some collectors in the United States. This lock of hair also lead to some scientific testing to see just what ailed Beethoven in his day. This is a truly fascinating read, and is really not what you would expect! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Beethoven, or a good mystery.
The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera – Joseph Volpe
Many of us have been to the Metropolitan Opera to see a performance and dreamed of what it might be like to work there. Joseph Volpe was not a singer, but he was the general manager of the Met for many years and heard many a great performance on that stage. He details his time at the Met and gives readers an inside look at what goes on behind the curtain. This book gives you an inside look at the Met and what goes on before and after a show. Learning about different aspects of the theater, how they work, and come together, gives us greater insight into our jobs.
Joan Sutherland – Norma Major
Just like our favorite composers and librettists, we have our favorite singers. Joan Sutherland is widely remembered for her beautiful voice and rich interpretations of the roles she played. Major’s book isn’t just a story about Joan Sutherland’s life, it was actually written with the help of Sutherland herself. Major's book talks about Sutherland's amazing career and her life outside the opera house. Reading about Sutherland's life and career from her point of view gives so much more insight into her work.
If you enjoyed this list of books and want other suggestions as well, check out other favorites by Modern Singer writers and even more books to add to your reading lists. If you have more great book suggestions, leave them in the comments below!