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The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (edition 1993)

by Wayne Koestenbaum

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273141,545 (3.32)8
Member:grunin
Title:The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire
Authors:Wayne Koestenbaum
Info:Poseidon Pr (1993), Hardcover
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Tags:Opera

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The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire by Wayne Koestenbaum

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As an opera lover I found this to be a delightful book aimed directly at all of us who love opera. Unique in his presentation and passionate in his approach to the subject, Wayne Koestenbaum illuminates the queer and queerer aspects of Opera in a way that is both intriguing and fascinating. Using opera as metaphor for gay life the divas of the past take on a melancholy patina that is affecting in its ability to communicate an earlier age of gay culture. The divide marked by Stonewall and the ravages of AIDS lends the book a haunting aura in spite of the morsels of operatic trivia that otherwise are still scandalously funny. The high point of the book for many will undoubtedly be the obligatory paean to the revolution known as "The Callas Cult".

"Luchino Visconti, in a photograph, kisses Callas's cheek, which makeup foundation has made unnaturally pale; Leonard Bernstein exclaims, "Callas? She was pure electricity." Visconti and Bernstein loved Callas not because they were gay but because she was a genius;" (p 136)

There are more details than could have been imagined about opera, from divas to opera queens, including musical trivia galore for those interested in the lives of Callas or Ponselle or Patti. The almost fifty pages devoted to "A Pocket Guide to Queer Moments in Opera" may be alternatively revealing or nostalgic depending on the readers' personal experiences. The result is a unique combination of reflections on camp, glamour, spectacle, privacy, identity, coming-out and more. For those who want to go beyond the basics of the music and drama of opera, who want to delve into the world of gay culture and the desires built upon the lore of Opera divadom, this is the that book takes them behind the scrim and into 'never land'. ( )
3 vote jwhenderson | Apr 26, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679749853, Paperback)

Why do so many gay men love opera? What makes an "opera queen"? What is the connection between gay sexuality and the full-throated longing that emerges from the diva's mouth? In The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire, self-proclaimed opera queen Wayne Koestenbaum investigates the hidden--and unexpected--mysteries that opera and sexuality produce. At once a personal meditation and an iconoclastic, highly entertaining survey of divas, The Queen's Throat is ultimately a profoundly moving, and at times curiously disturbing, investigation of the intricate interplay between art and sexuality, between beauty and eroticism. Koestenbaum is not afraid to challenge, and he more or less grabs readers by the hand to drag them, with nonstop exuberance, through the ornate, highly stylized world of diva worship. Traipsing through descriptions of classic performances, musical autobiographies, personal recollections, historical notations, and the music itself, Koestenbaum creates for us the daring, frenzied, disordered, highly sexual--and ultimately ecstatic--world of the opera queen. --Michael Bronski

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Until now, silence has surrounded the long-observed affinity of gay men for opera. The Queen's Throat violates the taboo, opens the closet, and shows how various and complex are the threads linking opera and homosexuality. A dazzling, innovative work that will fascinate readers of all sexual persuasions, it is a scrapbook of bright-voiced cadenzas, embroidered with candid confession, freewheeling speculation, and keen wit." "In this passionate love letter to opera, Koestenbaum brilliantly illuminates mysteries of sexuality, fandom, and obsession. Using opera as the lens to bring our yearnings and exultations into startling focus, he treats the opera queen as a trickster-oracle of whom we may ask: Why is opera the preeminent art form of the borderline, of transgression? Why have gay men sought to define themselves by mimicking divas? Why has Maria Callas attracted so much gay adulation? Why do the vocal cords seem a hiding place for sexual secrets? Is the marriage of words and music, in opera, a "queer" marriage? Is the word "queer," coming into controversial currency again, an apt description of opera's nature? And in a breathtaking finale, Koestenbaum sings back to us - in lyrical prose - a series of famous opera highlights. Here, in his "pocket guide to queer moments in opera," he provides a whirlwind demonstration of why opera matters so intensely to its devotees." "Surprisingly relevant to issues beyond the borders of opera and homosexuality, these provocative reflections also encompass manners, camp, spectacle, glamour, gossip, privacy, coming out, and a wide spectrum of sexual pleasures." "The Queen's Throat is also an elegy: writing nearly a quarter century after Stonewall, Koestenbaum communicates a haunted awareness of his separation from the earlier era of the opera queen, and his position within a far different time and generation, in a fin de siecle marked by AIDS and by changing sexual definitions and possibilities." "Exuberant and melancholy, revealing and deeply affecting, The Queen's Throat is an arresting work of literature and cultural history that will appeal to everyone interested in the meanings we give to our erotic and aesthetic experiences."--Jacket.… (more)

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