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

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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)
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David
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 "
...more
Jesse
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
...more
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
James
"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
Peter
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
Dottie
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.
Denise
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.
arnulfo.
opera and gays. gays and opera. thoroughly entertaining even for the non-opera buff. or the non-gays.
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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

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“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
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