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:
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Arturo Toscanini looms large over opera and classical music. Fred Plotkin writes of the exacting maestro on his 150th birth anniversary.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Composer and conductor Anton Coppola, uncle of film director Francis, turns one hundred years old today. Fred Plotkin visited Coppola in his Manhattan apartment recently.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Deborah Kelleher, the director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, shares some of her picks for outstanding new Irish singers with Opravore's Fred Plotkin.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
'Before Night Falls' is the autobiography of Cuban dissident writer Reinaldo Arenas. It was first adapted as a film and then as an opera in 2010, which sees a run this week in Miami.
Wednesday, March 08, 2017
Plenty of epic drama in Washington, D.C., writes Fred Plotkin, who attended performances that riveted audiences at Washington National Opera and Washington Concert Opera.
Friday, March 03, 2017
Fred Plotkin interviews the multi-lingual tenor Paul Appleby before his New York recital on March 5 featuring “On this Island,” a song cycle by Benjamin Britten.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Fred Plotkin discusses how singers struggle to maintain vocal health and shares advice from Dr. Anthony F. Jahn, the Met Opera's volunteer medical director.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
"For opera to be compelling on our stages, we should not care about thinking big or thinking small," writes Fred Plotkin. "We must think creatively."
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin breaks down the Metropolitan Opera's new season announcement.
Friday, February 10, 2017
Fred Plotkin remembers the career of and his experiences with Leontyne Price and her singular voice on her 90th birthday.
Monday, February 06, 2017
It's the time of year when opera companies start to announce their new seasons. And there are plenty of new operas to experience in the next year, writes Fred Plotkin.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Pop singer George Michael passed away on Christmas Day. Fred Plotkin admired Michael's singing and the emotional connections with his audiences during performances.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Fred Plotkin shares that master classes are a great way to learn about the art of singing.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Fred Plotkin remembers his conversations with Roberta Peters and how the private lives of singers serve to fuel their public performances in surprising ways.
Friday, January 13, 2017
Fred Plotkin reflects on the warmth of both weather and character, and of compassion and sacrifice and how these forces of human nature play out in Puccini’s "La Bohème."
Thursday, January 05, 2017
Look for illumination and understanding in art and music during these times of great challenge and you will find it, writes Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin.
Sunday, January 01, 2017
In early 2017, New York and cities reachable by train or bus offer splendid and diverse options for lovers of the human voice. Here are Fred Plotkin's picks.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Blogger Fred Plotkin writes about the dangerous levels of noise that we experience every day and how we should protect our hearing.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Dominique Meyer, general director of the Vienna State Opera since 2010, was informed that his contract would not be renewed in 2020.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Blogger Fred Plotkin honors and acknowledges many of the outstanding and memorable achievements in opera in 2016.