Google full text of our books:


Metaphysical Song:
An Essay on Opera
Gary Tomlinson

Paperback | 1999 | $46.00 | £38.95 | ISBN: 9780691004099
192 pp. | 7 3/4 x 10 | 7 halftones 12 music examples
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400866700 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents

Google full text of this book:

In this bold recasting of operatic history, Gary Tomlinson connects opera to shifting visions of metaphysics and selfhood across the last four hundred years. The operatic voice, he maintains, has always acted to open invisible, supersensible realms to the perceptions of its listeners. In doing so, it has articulated changing relations between the self and metaphysics. Tomlinson examines these relations as they have been described by philosophers from Ficino through Descartes, Kant, and Nietzsche, to Adorno, all of whom worked to define the subject's place in both material and metaphysical realms. The author then shows how opera, in its own cultural arena, distinct from philosophy, has repeatedly brought to the stage these changing relations of the subject to the particular metaphysics it presumes.

Covering composers from Jacopo Peri to Wagner, from Lully to Verdi, and from Mozart to Britten, Metaphysical Song details interactions of song, words, drama, and sounds used by creators of opera to fill in the outlines of the subjectivities they envisioned. The book offers deep-seated explanations for opera's enduring fascination in European elite culture and suggests some of the profound difficulties that have unsettled this fascination since the time of Wagner.


"A well-written, wide-ranging, and thought-provoking look at opera. Highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)

"There is much in this book for philosophers and opera lovers to enjoy, to reflect on, and to disagree with."--The Review of Metaphysics


"A fascinating and sensitive study of how philosophers have probed the problem of subjectivity through the passage of the operatic voice. Tomlinson's work is notable for the way it combines a thorough knowledge of the history of music and opera with an understanding of contemporary problems of theory and methodology."--Lydia Goehr, Columbia University

"This extraordinary book offers us an 'alternative story' of the history of opera. . . . [It] will have an important . . . effect on the way we think about opera."--Roger Parker, Oxford University

Table of Contents:

I Voices of the Invisible 3
II Late Renaissance Opera 9
Excursus 1: A Cosmos of Apollinian Harmony 28
III Early Modern Opera 34
Excursus 2: The Borders of Theatrical Space 68
IV Modern Opera 73
Excursus 3: Noumenal Themes 104
Excursus 4: Composing Schopenhauer 107
V Nietzsche: Overcoming Operatic Metaphysics 109
VI Ghosts in the Machine 127
Excursus 5: Mechanical Reproduction of Opera 143
Excursus 6: Film Fantasy, Endgame of Wagnerism 145
VII The Sum of Modernity 147
Notes 157
Index 181

This book has been translated into:

  • Spanish


Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

When this eBook becomes available, we will provide direct links to buy it. Until then,
check pre-order availability at these e-tailer sites by copying and pasting the eISBN

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

 Paperback : $46.00 ISBN: 9780691004099

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

 Paperback  £38.95 ISBN: 9780691004099

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

Prices subject to change without notice

File created: 7/11/2017

Questions and comments to:
Princeton University Press

New Book E-mails
New In Print
PUP Blog
Princeton APPS
Sample Chapters
Princeton Legacy Library
Exam/Desk Copy
Recent Awards
Princeton Shorts
Freshman Reading
PUP Europe
About Us
Contact Us
PUP Home

Bookmark and Share 
Send me emails
about new books in:
More Choices