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 (


Fred Plotkin appears in the following:

Waltzing Through Ball Season in Vienna

Friday, February 05, 2016

Fred Plotkin attends the Opera Ball held in Vienna this year and describes how checking off this "bucket list" item was a dream come true.
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Comments [2]

Finding Peace in Salzburg

Monday, February 01, 2016

Ten years after his first report from Mozart Woche, Fred Plotkin explains what has and hasn't changed in the city at what can be described as a Mozart bonanza fest.
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Comments [3]

The Enigmas of Turandot

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin explains the many layers of enigmas within Turandot, including those in the plot and those in the characters.
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Comments [25]

Plácido Domingo: An Appreciation of a Man of Many Parts

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Operavore's Fred Plotkin pays tribute to Plácido Domingo who at present has performed 145 different operatic parts in over 3700 performances.
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Comments [8]

To Bis or Not to Bis: Should Encores Be Permitted During Operas?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

To 'Bis' or not to 'Bis', that is the question that Fred Plotkin asks in this blog post for Operavore.
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Comments [33]

Taking a Stand on Music Stands

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin tackles the thorny question of music stand use during high-profile recitals.
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Comments [25]

The Indian Subcontinent in European Opera

Friday, January 08, 2016

Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin's looks at European operas that are set in South Asia in this follow up column on the influences of East on West and West on East.
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West Meets East: Opera and Classical Music in South Asia

Monday, January 04, 2016

In musically rich south Asia, Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin asks where one can find western opera and what other traditions serve the opera curious.
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Comments [5]

Leonie Rysanek, 20 Years After Her Met Farewell

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Twenty years after Leonie Rysanek gave her final performance at the Met, Fred Plotkin remembers the artist he misses most.
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And to All a Good Night: Great Singers, Great Christmas Music

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fred Plotkin unearths some of his favorite (and unfamiliar) holiday musical selections by some of his favorite singers.
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Comments [10]

The Third Annual Excellence in Opera (a. k. a. Freddie) Awards

Friday, December 18, 2015

Blogger Fred Plotkin honors and acknowledges many of the outstanding and memorable achievements in opera in 2015.
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A Good Year for New Operas

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin comes to the realization that, in the United States, it was a really good year for new opera.
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Wexford Festival Opera: Journey into the Unknown

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The central mission of the Wexford festival since its 1951 founding, writes Operavore's Fred Plotkin, has been to unearth works that have not been heard since their creation.
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Comments [5]

Knoxville: Fall of 2015

Friday, December 04, 2015

Inspired by a casting call controversy at the Knoxville Opera, Fred Plotkin looks at the role visuals play in how we listen.
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Comments [10]

Music, Paris and Belief in Reason

Monday, November 30, 2015

Blogger Fred Plotkin shares his thoughts on France, its music and the philosophy of Paris that inspires the world over.
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Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell: Poetry in Need of Music

Monday, November 23, 2015

Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin discusses the new play "Dear Elizabeth," about love letters between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell and makes a proposal.
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The Operatic Class of 1965, Fifty Years On

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin writes about the 2015 Metropolitan Opera Guild's annual luncheon honoring artists that made their debut at the Met in 1965.
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Comments [6]

Opera Goes to War

Friday, November 13, 2015

From Verdi to Wagner to Prokofiev, opera and musical presentations involving war are abundant writes Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin.
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Comments [12]

Remembering The Met's Richard Horowitz

Monday, November 09, 2015

Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin remembers the longest-serving employee in the history of the Met, tympanist Richard Horowitz. 
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Comments [8]

When Dreams and Dreamers Inhabit Opera

Monday, November 02, 2015

Fresh from a trip to Ireland's Wexford Festival Opera, Blogger Fred Plotkin writes about the influence of dreams in opera.
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Comments [6]