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Weep, Shudder, Die: On Opera and Poetry

Weep, Shudder, Die: On Opera and Poetry

Dana Gioia

Regular price $ 15.96 USD
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208-page paperback / 5" x 8" / ISBN 9781589881969
Publication Date: 12/3/2024 (available for preorder)

A unique book about opera—personal, impassioned, and provocative. 

Weep, Shudder, Die explores opera from the perspective by which the art was originally created, as the most intense form of poetic drama. The great operas have an essential connection to poetry, song, and the primal power of the human voice. The aim of opera is irrational enchantment, the unleashing of emotions and visionary imagination.

Gioia rejects the conventional view of opera which assumes that great operas can be built on execrable texts. He insists that in opera, words matter. Operas begin as words; strong words inspire composers, weak words burden them. Ultimately, singers embody the words to give the music a human form for the audience.

Weep, Shudder, Die is a poet’s book about opera. To some, that statement will suggest writing that is airy, impressionistic, and unreliable, but a poet also brings a practical sense of how words animate opera, lend life to imaginary characters, and give human shape to music. Written from a lifelong devotion to the art, Gioia’s book is for anyone who has wept in the dark of an opera house.


"Highly enjoyable . . . Studying with Miss Bishop offers the opportunity to encounter writing as an act of civility."
―Wall Street Journal

"[A] fantastically charming collection."
―Los Angeles Review of Books on Studying with Miss Bishop

"Fascinating snapshots of remarkable encounters which, when brought together, chart a delightfully unusual path to literary success."
―Booklist on Studying with Miss Bishop

“With perfect tonal and formal control, the poet’s voice seems to emanate from somewhere between author and reader, between dream and memory."
―The New Criterion on Meet Me at the Lighthouse

“An important book, and anyone who professes to care about the state of American poetry will have to take it into account.”
―World Literature Today on Can Poetry Matter?

"Vibrant and inviting.”
―The Washington Post on 99 Poems: New & Selected

"Great riches in remarkably few pages."
―Booklist, Starred Review on Pity the Beautiful: Poems

Dana Gioia is a poet and critic. He has published six full-length collections of verse―99 Poems: New & Selected won the Poets’ Prize as the best new book of the year, and Interrogations at Noon won the American Book Award―and a memoir, Studying with Miss Bishop (Paul Dry Books, 2021). His controversial volume Can Poetry Matter? was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and is credited with helping revive the role of poetry in American public culture. Gioia has served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and as California State Poet Laureate. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Sonoma County, California.

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