Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire” as Want to Read:
The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

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

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  9 reviews
This passionate love letter to opera, lavishly praised and nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award when it was first published, is now firmly established as a cult classic. In a learned, moving, and sparklingly witty melange of criticism, subversion, and homage, Wayne Koestenbaum illuminates mysteries of fandom and obsession, and has created an exuberant work of ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published April 5th 2001 by Da Capo Press (first published 1993)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Queen's Throat, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Queen's Throat

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 304)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Full disclosure: I am a gay man. I enjoy opera, find certain operas to be truly sublime. But I am not an opera queen

Koestenbaum writes with a kind of feverish elegance that is impressive. But this book - a set of highly idiosyncratic meditations on opera - just bristles with cringe-inducing stereotypes. In particular, his apparent willingness to embrace the 'gay man as ostracized outsider' role is distinctly unappealing.

I enjoyed two of the book's seven chapters - Koestenbaum's reflections on "
Insightful, incisive... and ultimately more than a bit of exhausting. I'm drawn to the structure and style, which is primarily made up of reflective fragments that are arranged in associative clusters of memories and content, but the text's greatest quality—the deep immersion into the author's psyche and his personal obsessions and desires—is also, ultimately, its greatest drawback (after a while one pines for some critical distance).

But as someone like myself who is interested in opera in a cu
Sarah Smith
Jul 26, 2007 Sarah Smith rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fanboys & fangirls, anybody who's read "Orality and Literacy"
There's a certain variety of essay writing which I find both eloquent and assertively readable, much harder to come by than you might think. (And by "assertively readable," I mean that it's the kind of book you would happily read all day on the couch with a big glass of ice water and some cigarettes, postponing all obligations.) Wayne Koestenbaum writes a lot of these essays. (I hear that an article in the Believer called them "lyric essays," but the term "lyric" is overwrought enough that I don ...more
"There is nothing prosaic about a diva. But diva prose is often banal: an ordinariness touched by sublimity. The diva writes to amplify herself, to state the obvious--floridly. (When a nondiva writes diva prose, she writes to admire or to impersonate.) Diva prose is amusing and pathetic because the divas who writes about themselves so grandly are often dead, no longer household words. Because a diva is rarely a dictator, we can afford to be charmed and transported bu the tragicomedy of diva pros ...more
Oct 29, 2007 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: opera loves, glbt readership, those conversant in post-structuralism
This book appeared in the early 1990's and I have just now gotten around to reading it. It is superbly written and an elegant traversal of opera and its cult and audience from the perspective of a very sophisticated gay man. The strongest chapter is a reminiscence of Maria Callas as soprano and legend. It takes operatic experience as paradigmatic not only for aesthetic experience in general but also as a system of signs in which the definition of sexuality and identity can be located. This is al ...more
Long story short -- out looking for books on opera -- found this. Stars? Well, they're as they need to be but may or may not reflect an accurate measure of the book for technical reasons, shall we say? I plan to finish this one day when I have the time while listening to Gounod's Faust on a repeat loop. Inside joke, that.
Hank Stuever
Another one of those books that just seemed to come along at the right time and teach me something I didn't know (certainly about opera; also about gay identity) but mostly just left me agog at the THINKING and the WRITING. I've been a fan of Wayne Koestenbaum ever since.
Interesting thoughts, but so clogged up with pretentious prose it was a real slog to get through. To be naughty and paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, if you gave this book an enema it would end up a pamphlet.
opera and gays. gays and opera. thoroughly entertaining even for the non-opera buff. or the non-gays.
Hoyadaisy marked it as to-read
Dec 16, 2014
Chad Morgan
Chad Morgan marked it as to-read
Dec 09, 2014
James Munt
James Munt marked it as to-read
Dec 04, 2014
Alex marked it as to-read
Dec 04, 2014
Alan Gongora
Alan Gongora marked it as to-read
Nov 21, 2014
Bill Arning
Bill Arning is currently reading it
Nov 10, 2014
Gokcan Demirkazik
Gokcan Demirkazik marked it as to-read
Nov 01, 2014
Nathan marked it as to-read
Sep 22, 2014
Martin Geiger
Martin Geiger marked it as to-read
Aug 23, 2014
kenshik sejh122
kenshik sejh122 marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2014
Adriana marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2014
Clover  Youngblood
Clover Youngblood marked it as to-read
Aug 02, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire
  • The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life
  • Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979
  • The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion
  • The Man With Night Sweats
  • An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures
  • Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century
  • Fucked Up & Photocopied: Instant Art of the Punk Rock Movement
  • The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America since World War II
  • Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture
  • The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century
  • The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World
  • The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals
  • Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography
  • Pink Samurai: Love, Marriage & Sex in Contemporary Japan
  • The Boys in the Band
  • The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies
In addition to Hotel Theory (Soft Skull, 2007), Wayne Koestenbaum has published five books of nonfiction prose: Andy Warhol, Cleavage, Jackie Under My Skin, The Queens Throat (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist), and Double Talk. He has also published a novel, Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes, and five books of poetry: Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Model Homes, The Milk of Inquiry, Rhapso ...more
More about Wayne Koestenbaum...
Humiliation Andy Warhol My 1980s and Other Essays Hotel Theory Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon

Share This Book

“The beauty and magnitude of a diva's voice resides, so the iconography suggests, in her deformity. Her voice is beautiful because she herself is not-and her ugliness is interpreted as a sign of moral and social deviance. Reading biographies of divas, I can't ignore the repeated references to physical flaws-for example, Benedetta Pisaroni's "features horribly disfigured by small-pox," prompting spectators to shut their eyes "so as to hear without being condemned to see." Audiences speculated that Maria Malibran was not anatomically a woman, but an androgyne or hermaphrodite-an aberrant physique to match her voice's magic power.” 0 likes
“The solitary operatic feast, the banquet for one, onanism through the ear: taking an evening out of my life to listen to Simon Boccanegra, I feel I am locked in the bathroom eating a quart of ice cream, that I have lost all my friends, that I am committing some violently antisocial act, like wearing lipstick to school.” 0 likes
More quotes…