Joseph Cone, "Seeing Opera Anew: A Cultural and Biological Perspective" (Routledge, 2023)


What people ultimately want from music-drama, audience research suggests, is to be absorbed in a story that engages their feelings, even moves them deeply, and that may lead them to insights about life and, perhaps, themselves. Joseph Cone's Seeing Opera Anew: A Cultural and Biological Perspective (Routledge, 2023) shows how both human biology and culture cause these effects.

Cone, a lifelong opera fan, ardent amateur singer and professional science writer, goes beyond the traditional approaches of musicology, criticism, history and biography. He adopts a "stereo" approach to assimilate cultural perspectives and contemporary evolutionary theories based in human biology. In doing so, he offers fresh insights on why music-dramas can offer such rich, immersive experiences, powerfully affecting our feelings and our understanding of life.

Written to stimulate the student and opera-goer as much as the professional, "Seeing Opera Anew" examines and interprets more than 15 operas in an informal and lively way based on a range of recent scholarship.

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James Kates

James Kates is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has worked as an editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other publications.

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