Book Reviews

December 06, 2022

"Incisive and insightful" - Peter Sellars, opera director and Professor of Art as Moral Action at UCLA 

Opera magazine (December 2022 edition): "Novel and ambitious... Banks's knowledgeable and above all thoughtful explorations are wide ranging... Though his discussions are inevitably short (around 200 works are looked at), they are invariably to the point and well argued... and his views are stimulating" - George Hall in OPERA (full review in the December 2022 edition of Opera magazine)

Opera Now magazine (January 2023 edition): "All life is here... Opera: The Autobiography of the Western World is an absorbing book that is best read over several sittings. It is also a useful reference book... (Banks's) sections on Verdi are especially good. The quantity and quality of the images are excellent, and they help to illuminate an intriguing and informative book" - John-Pierre Joyce in Opera Now (full review in the January 2023 edition of Opera Now)

"The ideal gift for anyone who loves opera... Banks' objectives are grand in the tradition of opera itself. A beautiful book, delightful to hold, full of pictures...The goal of Banks' book is to examine how we find ourselves reflected in opera, literature and painting. These arts have been telling our story for centuries. Banks' unlikely ambition is to summarize and paraphrase all of that into western culture's life story: the history of the world.  It is highly original and fascinating in the execution. It was fun reading."  Barczablog (the full review can be found HERE)

"A beautiful book, beautifully put together. The way it is structured is great, it takes a theme and then looks at how operatic treatments of that theme have changed over the years, which then tells us a lot about the times they were written and about history itself" - Damien Kennedy, Music Library Manager at English National Opera (the full transcript of the "in conversation" with ENO on 12 October can be found HERE)

"Amiable and entertaining ...shows how the world as it was became the world that we know now" - Hui L Dewar on Amazon

Banks "sees the operatic repertoire as a living record of the Western world. It is a fascinating approach... It helps that Banks has a nice line in pointed description...  This is not really a book to read in one sitting; it is rather fun to dip into and read Banks' compare and contrast chapters... I have always been fascinated by different eras' approaches to the same story, but this takes it to a new level... the contrasts between different approaches to the same subject become very illuminating."  Planet Hugill (Robert Hugill's full review can be found HERE)

"The canvas Banks is exploring is wide, complex and challenging....It isn’t, however, a difficult book to read for two reasons: all the material is presented in quite small bites under headings and there are good illustrations of paintings, posters, and production shots, many of them in colour." - Susan Elkin in the April/May 2023 edition of Ink Pellet, the arts magazine for teachers. The article can be found here: Read Ink Pellet Articles from April 2023 | Scribd

"History buffs and theatre lovers alike will savour this addition to their bookshelf... This engaging read is sure to bring something new to even the most seasoned of opera lovers". - Royal Opera House Shop website (Dec 2023)

"Your book is a hymn to liberty and beauty, in the best sense of these words" - Galina Krylova, Human Rights Lawyer