The best books on music and drama, as recommended by some of the most eminent critics, scholars, writers and directors in the field. Reading lists on subjects including theatre directing, opera, Wagner, Shakespeare, Broadway, filmmaking and classical music.
Shakespearean scholar Emma Smith picks her five favourite plays of the Bard, and controversially argues that not only are some of his plays just too long, but also that the most moving moments in Shakespeare’s oeuvre are where we might not expect them
Richard Wagner’s works are as immense as they are influential: the four-part, 15-hour saga Der Ring des Nibelungen is the most analysed opera of all time. And yet, Wagner was arrogant and virulently anti-semitic. Can we separate the musical genius from the man? Opera critic Michael Tanner recommends the best books on Wagner.
Oscar Wilde cultivated an image of himself as an idle genius, dashing off masterpieces with a lazy brilliance. But below the glittering linguistic surface of his works, suggests Sos Eltis, lies an anarchic politics and a phenomenal analysis of power.
French theater is appreciated as much in reading as in performance. Princeton University’s Florent Masse offers us a reading from the point of view of teaching theater. How did the great men of theater—such as Jouvet, Copeau, or Vitez—build their learning? Discover the principles and references that guide the best directors. (You can also read this interview in the original French)
Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music
by Robert Walser
Queerness in Heavy Metal Music: Metal Bent
by Amber R Clifford-Napoleone
Black Sabbath's Master of Reality
by John Darnielle
Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica, 1991-2014
by Ian Winwood and Paul Brannigan
True Norwegian Black Metal
by Peter Beste
Metal music, developed in the sixties and seventies, is notorious for its dark and disturbing imagery and its aggressive sound. But there’s nothing to be afraid of, says sociologist and fan Keith Kahn-Harris: it’s all part of the mythmaking of metal.
The philosopher and cultural critic recently made a foray into drama when he reworked Sophocle’s Antigone—not out of admiration for the original, but to examine the “stupid and morally problematic” character at its heart. Here he selects five plays he admires—but declines to see performed.
In our Shakespeare series, we ask experts to select their favourite plays from the Bard’s oeuvre. Here, preeminent Shakespearean scholar Sir Stanley Wells chooses five plays that best chart the evolution of the Bard of Avon during his 25-year career.
From Bach to Stravinsky, British composer Giles Swayne discusses the most insightful books for getting to know the real lives of classical composers. “You can have people who are really extremely mediocre with huge careers, and people who are wonderfully good but don’t have wonderful careers. Bach was one of those.”
‘Smart people went to the ballet and opera, and what the poor and lower middle classes did with their time didn’t matter. But these men in Hollywood had a vision and were creating this product that was loved by everybody of all different backgrounds.’
Le théâtre français s’apprécie autant à la lecture qu’à la représentation. Florent Masse, professeur de théâtre français à Princeton, nous propose une lecture du point de vue de l’enseignement du théâtre. Comment les grands hommes de théâtre—tels Jouvet, Copeau, ou Vitez—ont-ils construit leur apprentissage? À vous de découvrir les principes et références qui guident les meilleurs metteurs en scène.