The Angel's Cry: Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Opera Review

The Angel's Cry: Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Opera
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The Angel's Cry: Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Opera ReviewOne of the best books I have read in ten years. I have been reading a LOT of books about opera but this one stands alone because it answers questions about what motivates, captures and captivates opera lovers. Poizat's book falls into three main pieces. He begins with a transcript of a long conversation that actually took place among passionate opera fans standing overnight for tickets to the next night's Tristan performance at the Paris Opera. The fans talk about their passion, bordering on obsession in many cases. What drives opera fans to spend too much money, to stand in the rain, to travel to other cities? Theirs is a quest for what Poizat calls "The Lost Voice." The second section explains, using psychology concepts, Jungian archetypes and a dizzying scope directly into the human soul. Poizat uses the concept of "jouissance" which the translator warns cannot be translated directly into English. It has elements of ownership, our ability to enjoy something because we possess it but also encompasses a type of ecstasy not removed from sexual pleasure. This is the driving force of the quest for The Lost Voice. Once experienced, we are ever seeking more. The third section illuminates how The Lost Voice appears in operas through many examples. Through The Lost Voice we experience divine silence, the silence that rings out after the Angel's Cry. The book wraps neatly by coming back to the waiting fans to hear the end of their conversation. "To go to the opera is to listen to life?" one says. "I'm absolutely certain of that," comes the answer. "A kind of truth appears, a physical truth...an intellectual truth even." The tape breaks off shorty thereafter at an ironic and profound moment in the conversation. Well, you have to read it for yourself! If you think you know what a book on opera reads like, you owe it to your jaded self to get this book. It raised the hairs on the back of my neck more than once. --Joy Hajduk-DeGraff, Chicago, IllinoisThe Angel's Cry: Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Opera OverviewWhat is it about opera that can bring unashamed tears to the eyes of adoring fans? In this book, first published in French in 1986 and now available in English, Michel Poizat explains in a charming way the fascination of the interaction between music and words. Touching on a variety of historical musical events, operatic themes, specific works, and individual composers, Poizat borrows some methods from the field of psychoanalysis to satisfy his curiosity about the strange power of the human voice.

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