So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
Absolutely without guile; open, frank, visual. What a life, what a legacy, and what a g-g-generation!
To put my 5* rating in perspective: as a very young teen, I was indifferent about The Who, couldn't name more than 3 songs they performed, wasn't a fan of the on-stage performance art-ish antics, and thought Tommy was mildly entertaining thanks to Elton John and Tina Turner; I'd rather have been listening to my Hendrix or Zeppelin LPs. So, my interest in this book surprised me; it was purely from seeing this very recognizable man recently on TV, promoting his bio, and being struck by his level of sincerity and vulnerability -- an almost apologetic demeanor without any of the ususal celeb braggadocio and self-aggrandizement that ruined some of the music celeb bios I've tried to get through (because yeah, we know, you're a bad A$$). Could that possibly be that rock star that used to do that windmill thing, smash his guitar, and strut with the royals of British rock, long live sex drugs and rock and roll? I was not some former fan, hoping to read Townshend's bio and flash-back to the glorious days when *I'd walk over you to see The Who.*
That perceived candor was accurate; I doubt it's possible to lay yourself so bare, as Townshend has done here, and be duplicitous. The history is fascinating and it reads like a grand timeline of rock and roll (which he calls *the absolute vehicle for self-destruction*). Townshend can probably go head to head with Keith Richards and his stories, but you don't get the sense that you are gathered around a pub table being regaled with wild rock star adventures -- though there are plenty of tales included. Instead, there is a kind of tolerance and wisdom that distances Townshend from being led by his talent to mastering his talent. His insecurities and self-doubts are bravely admitted, his love of family and friends obvious. I liked that he spoke about his achievements without bragging, aware of his talent as a gift--not a free pass to be an arse.
Once in a while an author connects to the reader and invites them into his life, it becomes intimate and real, like a confessional, and that connection is a gift borne of talent. Townshend's writing, and choice to narrate the book himself, put this book in that category. If I'd paid attention to those lyrics years ago, I probably wouldn't have been so surprised by his depth and talent. Like the man, this book is the real thing, and the product of a life lived hard...and well. The best celeb bio I've read to date (including the great Steve Jobs bio)--and remember, this is a man I had no interest in before. I'll have to go back and listen to The Who (with my *mature* ears) to see if I am yet a fan of the music, but I can say without any doubt I sure like Pete Townshend the man.
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
If you had crossed Bizet's path in 1875, the year "Carmen" was first staged, you would have met with a plump, bespectacled Frenchman who was forever nibbling sweet delicacies. But while you might overlook this unassuming person, you could not have ignored his music.
From early childhood, Bizet possessed prodigious talent. In the Conservatoire at nine, and winning every prize going, he worked his magic on a variety of instruments. At the age of 19, he won the Prix de Rome. With innate musical taste, judgment, and imagination, he stands above his contemporaries.
As this program points out, Bizet was no "one trick pony." He'd written most of his work before anyone had heard of "Carmen," and some of this sadly neglected work deserves rediscovery and appreciation, such as his opera "The Pearl Fishers."
Harold Schonberg wrote, "Carmen is an opera of passion, power, and truth, infinitely superior to the carefully arranged, prettily served canapés of Gounod and Massenet. They were skilled professionals. Bizet was a genius."
Tchaikovsky and Brahms were fans of "Carmen," too. Wagner, having heard it, said of Bizet, "At last, for a change, someone with ideas in his head!"
All this makes it the more stunning that this perennial favorite did not meet with immediate success. "Carmen" was called "immoral," and accused of being (even worse) "Wagnerian."
In this excellent program, David Timson brings the spectacle of "Carmen" vividly to life, with reference to many important excerpts, the fast and furious scene changes demanded by the complex action, and so much more.
If you're fortunate enough to be going to see the opera or just want to understand it better while you listen at home, you can't go wrong with this exploration of "Carmen essentials."
This was the first opera I heard (at the age of nine) and it left me forever in love with opera itself. My French wasn't under firm control, and I couldn't really understand everything that was happening, but that music! I have never forgotten it. Such is the power of Bizet.