ABOUT THIS BOOK
Award-winning singer Ian Bostridge examines iconic works of Western classical music to reflect on the relationship between performer and audience.
Like so many performers, renowned tenor Ian Bostridge spent much of 2020 and 2021 unable to take part in live music. The enforced silence of the pandemic led him to question an identity that was previously defined by communicating directly with audiences in opera houses and concert halls. It also allowed him to delve deeper into many of the classical works he has encountered over the course of his career, such as Claudio Monteverdi’s seventeenth-century masterpiece Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Robert Schumann’s popular song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben. In lucid and compelling prose, Bostridge explores the ways Monteverdi, Schumann, and Britten employed and disrupted gender roles in their music; questions colonial power and hierarchy in Ravel’s Songs of Madagascar; and surveys Britten’s reckoning with death in works from the War Requiem to his final opera, Death in Venice.
As a performer reconciling his own identity and that of the musical text he delivers on stage, Bostridge unravels the complex history of each piece of music, showing how today’s performers can embody that complexity for their audiences. As readers become privy to Bostridge’s unique lines of inquiry, they are also primed for the searching intensity of his interpretations, in which the uncanny melding of song and self brings about moments of epiphany for both the singer and his audience.