When Divas Confess: Master Opera Singers in Their Leading Roles

What really is opera? Why are we so captivated by opera’s stars? What are the protean forces and human archetypes that give rise to great opera? And how does an opera singer internalize these elements, mold them, and t…

What really is opera? Why are we so captivated by opera’s stars? What are the protean forces and human archetypes that give rise to great opera? And how does an opera singer internalize these elements, mold them, and then emerge from behind the curtain as a fully developed character? These are the questions that enticed Marcia Lieberman to take her camera to the world’s great opera houses to compile this remarkable collection of images and vignettes.

Granted access to the dressing rooms of some of the world’s most revered opera performers, including Plácido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, and Renée Fleming, Lieberman seeks images that shed light on the mystique–and on the process of transformation–of an operatic performer. Drawing on the great recurring archetypes–among them the Tyrant, the Magician, the Hero, and the Deceiver–Lieberman invites each opera star to expound on the notions of character and transformation, posing for her camera in full costume and makeup, during stolen moments between acts or just before the curtain goes up at actual performances. Accompanying Lieberman’s compelling photographs are insightful and engaging texts by renowned music historian Paul Griffiths, who explores the origins of these operatic characters and the different types of musical sensibilities that inform them.

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