The Impossible Art: Adventures in Opera

Farrar. Dec. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780374175382. $28. MUSIC
Composer Aucoin’s personal reflection on and guide to opera has the perfect title; in the book’s preface, he writes that opera’s (arguably) impossible feat is capturing human ideas and emotions. The book’s chapters can be read out of order, but each has a distinct relationship to the penultimate chapter, which explores Aucoin’s key operatic work, Eurydice (commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 2020). In an earlier chapter, Aucoin analyzes other works inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice; he also examines the Verdi operas that were based on plays by Shakespeare (Otello; Falstaff). Aucoin’s expressive language conveys his passion for opera and its influence on his life. For each composer, librettist, or composition the book discusses, he explains what made them groundbreaking and new and what made them similar to their operatic predecessors.
VERDICT Opera lovers will be delighted by this conversational, memoir-style book from an author who has spent years studying and writing in the art form.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing