FRED PLOTKIN is one of America’s foremost experts on opera and has distinguished himself in many fields as a writer, speaker, consultant and as a compelling teacher. He is an expert on everything Italian, the person other so-called Italy experts turn to for definitive information. Fred discovered the concept of "The Renaissance Man" as a small child and has devoted himself to pursuing that ideal as the central role of his life. In a “Public Lives” profile in The New York Times on August 30, 2002, Plotkin was described as "one of those New York word-of-mouth legends, known by the cognoscenti for his renaissance mastery of two seemingly separate disciplines: music and the food of Italy." In the same publication, on May 11, 2006, it was written that "Fred is a New Yorker, but has the soul of an Italian."
He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he had a double major in Italian Renaissance history and theater and opera production (as a student of Gilbert Helmsley). Fred studied at the DAMS conservatory (Italy’s Juilliard) of the University of Bologna and later, as a Fulbright Scholar, at the University of Pavia, which included work at La Scala. Fred has worked in opera since 1972, doing everything but singing. This includes management, production, design, coaching, consulting and broadcasting. He directed opera at La Scala and later was the performance manager of the Metropolitan Opera for five years. He has worked for some of the great opera companies of the world and collaborated with many top stars. He was a site inspector for the National Endowment for the Arts, bringing his managerial expertise to more than 20 US opera companies.
Fred is a popular presence on the intermission features of the Metropolitan Opera international radio broadcasts. He teaches a series at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò of NYU called “Adventures in Italian Opera” which has a big following. Many great singers and conductors have been his guests for those evenings. His seminars at the Metropolitan Opera Guild are always sold out and he has lectured about opera for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, BAM, the Smithsonian, the Morgan Library, the Los Angeles Opera, the Wagner Society of Southern California, the Salzburg Festival and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. He is a popular pre-concert lecturer for the New York Philharmonic and has also spoken for other important orchestras in the USA and Europe. Plotkin leads opera/food trips in Italy, Austria, France and New York. He has recorded audio books and done narration in concert programs, most recently Ogden Nash’s poems inspired by Saint-Saëns’s “Carnival of the Animals.”
His book, Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera is the best-selling standard text in America on the art form. Classical Music 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Classical Music is well-respected in the USA and has had important editions in the UK and China. Fred has written program notes and articles for the Metropolitan, Chicago Lyric, Los Angeles and Cincinnati opera companies, Carnegie Hall, The Atlantic, Playbill, Stagebill, Opera News, Das Opernglas, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Daily Telegraph.
He has a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, where he specialized in broadcasting and arts reporting. He has appeared on many radio programs on RAI, Radio France, BBC, Radio Canada, and NPR. Fred was featured prominently on WNYC’s award-winning “The Ring and I” (a program he named) about those special people who often see every aspect of life filtered through the music and stories of Wagner’s great tetralogy.
Fred has written six renowned books on Italian cuisine (including the classics Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riviera; The Authentic Pasta Book; La Terra Fortunata: The Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia). The fifth edition of his Italy for the Gourmet Traveler was published in June 2010 by Kyle Books. It is the most complete book for visitors to Italy who are interested in that country’s peerless food and wine heritage. He has written and been interviewed about wine and gastronomy in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Gastronomica, Gourmet, Wine Enthusiast, and other leading publications. He has been a finalist for the Julia Child, James Beard and IACP cookbook awards and is a judge for the Beard awards.
Fred Plotkin lives in airplanes, opera houses, Manhattan, and cyberspace (www.fredplotkin.com).
Fred Plotkin appears in the following:
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Fred Plotkin continues his Singular Voices series with an examination of the art and music of pop singer and songwriter Billy Joel.
Tuesday, November 07, 2017
Fred Plotkin tours the opera treasures of the Lombardy region in Italy.
Wednesday, November 01, 2017
Fred Plotkin looks at how Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly” and the musical “Miss Saigon” resonate today.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Fred Plotkin reports from London on the exhibit “Opera: Passion, Power and Politics” now at the Sainsbury Gallery of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Fred Plotkin reports from London on the state of applause at performances and how audiences still differ across the pond.
Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Fred Plotkin takes in the O17 Festival in the City of Brotherly Love and finds excitement.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Fred Plotkin writes of the subjectivity of opera, which like a taste in food, is developed over time after varied experiences.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Fred Plotkin reflects on how theater is adapted for the opera house.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Fred Plotkin reflects on the singular voice of Maria Callas.
Friday, September 08, 2017
Fred Plotkin makes an appeal for more opera in the Miss America pageant and as a winning strategy for contestants.
Tuesday, September 05, 2017
Luciano Pavarotti died on Sept. 6, 2007, and is much missed even though, 10 years on, he still seems to be with us in so many ways.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Fred Plotkin sits down with librettist Mark Campbell about the slew of new operas he has hitting opera houses this year.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Fred Plotkin visits "the other Metropolitan," the museum, and explores the historical relationship between art, opera and courtesans.
Monday, August 21, 2017
Fred Plotkin knows that nothing fits the high drama of a solar eclipse better than opera and musical theater. Here's your ideal soundtrack for this astral event.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Fred Plotkin looks at genre-bending singers and composers that have spanned classical, opera and jazz.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Here is a selection of some of the best Europe has to offer this fall, with an emphasis on off-the-beaten path.
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Fred Plotkin lists important new operas this fall and early winter, plus rarities and special performances worth traveling to.
Monday, August 07, 2017
Fred Plotkin previews the fall season for opera and vocal music in New York.
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Fred Plotkin reflects on the singular voice of José Carreras.
Monday, July 31, 2017
The Royal Opera House featured Jonas Kaufmann as Otello recently. You can watch this well-received performance in HD at select theaters in early August.