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Fred Plotkin

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).

Blogs:

Fred Plotkin appears in the following:

The Show Must Go On

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Sometimes one must brave uncertainty and forge ahead. Fred Plotkin shares some examples of performers that have done so under difficult circumstances.
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Comments [6]

The Ultimate Holiday Music Guide For New Yorkers

Friday, November 25, 2016

The holidays in New York are enriched every year with a whole host of concert performances, including a mess of Messiahs and other great music experiences.
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Comments [3]

Gratitude, Just When We Need it Most

Monday, November 21, 2016

Acknowledging those people and things who contribute to the greater good makes us feel better and, yes, truly grateful, writes Fred Plotkin, especially for what is expressed in music.
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Comments [9]

Why It's More Difficult Than Ever to Become an Opera Singer

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fred Plotkin on the many things opera singers must now do to launch, grow and sustain their careers outside knowledge, artistry and health.
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Comments [7]

The Art of Listening

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Most of us hear but not all of us listen," says Operavore's Fred Plotkin. Find out how the skill of active listening can transform your experience with music and much more.
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Comments [2]

The Glorious Diversity of African-American Music

Friday, November 04, 2016

Blogger Fred Plotkin takes a tour of the "stupendous" "Musical Crossroads" exhibit at the The National Museum of African American History and Culture with the exhibit curator.
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Comments [1]

What Can Happen When an Opera Performance is Cancelled

Monday, October 31, 2016

Human ashes in the orchestra pit this weekend caused the Met to halt one performance and cancelled another. Fred Plotkin explains what goes on during a performance cancellation.
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Comments [25]

Keeping Up With Conductor Gianandrea Noseda

Friday, October 28, 2016

Conductor Gianandrea Noseda and the London Symphony Orchestra return to David Geffen Hall this weekend with the Verdi Requiem. Fred Plotkin journals about the maestro's busy fall. 
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Comments [2]

Before Verdi There Was Rossini

Monday, October 24, 2016

While in Italy to celebrate Verdi, Fred Plotkin muses on the man who came before him, Rossini.
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Comments [5]

Singular Voices: Charles Aznavour

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fred Plotkin continues his series called Singular Voices sharing his thoughts after a recent New York performance by French multi-lingual singer Charles Aznavour. 
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Comments [3]

Remembering Broadcaster Peter Allen

Friday, October 14, 2016

In this personal memorial, Fred Plotkin shares his experiences with and appreciation for the WQXR and Met Opera radio broadcaster over the course of many years.
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Comments [1]

Venice: The First Capital of Opera

Monday, October 10, 2016

The importance of Venice to opera cannot be understated. Fred Plotkin visits the city and shares his thoughts on the city's place in operatic history.
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Comments [10]

In the Footsteps of Wagner: Writing 'Parsifal' in Italy

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Fred Plotkin retraces the paths of Wagner as he was writing Parsifal leading him Villa Rufolo where the composer found his inspiration for the operas second half.
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Comments [4]

50 Years at the New Metropolitan Opera House

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Met just celebrated its 50th season opener this week. Fred Plotkin shares his thoughts after attending performances for those fifty seasons.
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Comments [3]

Remembering the Old Metropolitan Opera House

Monday, September 26, 2016

The last Monday in September is, customarily, the opening night of the season at the Metropolitan Opera house.
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Comments [9]

How Critics Can Help Us Love Opera Even More

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fred Plotkin discusses the changing roles of opera and art critics over the years and how they can enhance the experience of going to performances or listening.
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Comments [5]

The Operatic Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, September 15, 2016

WPSU
Fred Plotkin travels to Ketchum, Idaho, where Ernest Hemingway lived and is buried, and considers which of the great author's works would translate well in opera.
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Comments [11]

Remembering Opera Singer Johan Botha

Friday, September 09, 2016

Fred Plotkin remembers Johan Botha, a favorite heldentenor of many, who died on Sept. 8 in Vienna at the age of 51.
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Comments [6]

Fall Preview: Voices of Autumn

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

This fall, the New York area is brimming with enticements for people who love to hear the human voice in opera and recital. Fred Plotkin highlights what to look for.
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Comments [3]

The Presidential Candidates’ Silence About the Arts

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

As we get closer to the 2016 presidential election, Fred Plotkin investigates the candidates' stance — or lack thereof — on funding for the arts. 
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Comments [18]