Fred Plotkin’s Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera

Jorie’s Store – Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera


Title and Author(s): Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera by Fred Plotkin
Release Date: Nov 09, 2004
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN: 9781455100132       
Duration: 18 hours, 15 minutes
Source: Harris County Public Library’s Digital Media Collection | Overdrive

Reasons for Reading: Originally, I learned of Fred Plotkin’s Opera 101… when I read Ann Patchett’s notes about Bel Canto. I enjoyed some live opera performances in college and thought this book might elucidate what compels people to subscribe to opera. This happened many years ago and something distracted me. Fast forward to 2013, I rediscovered this book among the many choices for eAudio nonfiction. I thought, “Wow, I can listen to a book about opera!” Thus, I checked it out and downloaded it to my Nook.

Summary: Opera 101… is an exhaustive look into a centuries-old art form. Author Fred Plotkin shares with the reader the history of opera, its many people (composers, performers, conductors, audience, etc), etiquette, and much more. After covering these aspects, Plotkin selects certain operas to describe in much more detail: Rigoletto, Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Don Giovanni, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Eugene Onegin, Don Carlo, Tannhäuser, Die Walküre, and Elektra.

One Thing I Learned from reading Fred Plotkin’s Opera 101…: In irs early days, the second biggest center for Italian opera was Naples.

What I Liked: The title of this book is most apt. It’s really a course in opera appreciation. I liked how Plotkin described the ins and outs of attending an opera. He explained why the doors close during the acts and what to wear. Also, Plotkin explained what your pre-opera meal size should be. When I finished this book, I felt I knew something about opera.

What I Disliked: I wished the reader could’ve heard the pieces Plotkin talked about in the eAudio. Also, it’s difficult to read libretto while driving.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Luciano Pavarotti – La Donna È Mobile (Rigoletto)

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For more on Fred Plotkin’s Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, check out the following sites:

Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe

Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle | eBranch Harris County Public Library

(Written 31 January 2013)

Title and Author(s): Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle & Grace Conlin (Narrator)

Release Date: May 9, 2006
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN:  9781455100132

Duration: 13 hours, 39 minutes

Reasons for Reading: I wanted another eAudio. Also, I wanted something very different from Black Like Me. When I saw a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, I felt I’d achieved that. All I remembered about her was that she was an artist that one of my sixth grade teachers said painted whatever she saw around her. While I found this simplistic, I felt there must be more to Georgia O’Keeffe. So, I checked it out via HCPL Overdrive and ultimately listened to it on my Nook Tablet.

Summary: This book takes on the true story of the American iconoclast – Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe marched to the beat of her own drummer perhaps from the beginning. Her larger than life story, bigger than some of her canvasses, draws interest.This artist lived nearly a century, one marked in change and evolution. Just the roles she played throughout her life – woman, artist, muse, lover, wife, friend, etc don’t begin to define her.

One Thing I Learned from reading Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe: O’Keeffe was the namesake of her maternal grandfather – George Victor Totto, a Hungarian count who came to the US in 1848.

What I Liked:  I liked that the author expressed herself in an objective way. Lisle portrayed O’Keeffe, warts and all, as the saying goes. She also described O’Keeffe’s mercurial ways very well.

What I Disliked: I blame myself for this. When I read about a visual artist in the future, I must skip an audiobook. I truly must see the pictures. While this encouraged me to browse online for O’Keeffe’s art, it was rather inconvenient listening to this on my work commute.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Georgia on my Mind- Ray Charles – YouTube

Setting: Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii, Chicago

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For more on Laurie Lisle’s Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe, check out the following sites:

Mike Tolson, J.R. Gonzales, Steve Gonzales, and The Houston Chronicle’s Houston 175…

Houston 175: A pictorial celebration of Houston’s 175-year history by Mike Tolson | LibraryThing

Tolson, M., Gonzales, J. R., & Gonzales, S. (2011). Houston 175: A pictorial celebration of Houston’s 175-year history. Battle Ground, WA: Pediment Pub. 9781597253505

Reasons for Reading:  March 2, 2011 marked the 175th birthday of Texas. Also, my hometown celebrated its septaquintaquinquecentennial in 2011. Amid the big birthday fever, The Houston Chronicle published Houston 175: A pictorial celebration of Houston’s 175-year history. The newspaper advertised this book and I requested a copy from HCPL.

Summary: Mostly through pictures, Houston 175 relates the history of our fair city. This book boasts over 300 images from archives as well as the newspaper’s photographers and readership.

What I Liked : Houston 175 offers great images and some context to what life in H-Town is like today. When I can, I look forward to buying this book and letting my copy reside on my coffee table 🙂 . I especially liked the details on Hurricane Ike, the great storm overshadowed by stock market woes in 2008. Of course, I’m a bit biased since I’m a Houstonian.

What I Disliked : I wished for some more text. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words but just a little more explanation would’ve been awesome.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Archie Bell & The Drells – Tighten Up

Setting: Houston!

You might also like:

  •  Houston Heights (Images of America) by Anne Sloane
  • Historic Houston Streets by Mark Hinton
  • After Ike: Aerial Views from the No-Fly Zone (Gulf Coast Books, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi) by Bryan Carlile
  • Houston Then and Now (Then & Now) by William Dylan Powell
For more on The Houston Chronicle’s Houston 175…, please check out the following links: