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:

In Opera, Artistry Matters More Than Size

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."
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Comments [5]

An Analysis of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2017-2018 Season

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Operavore blogger Fred Plotkin breaks down the Metropolitan Opera's new season announcement.
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Comments [24]

Singular Voices: Leontyne Price

Friday, February 10, 2017

Fred Plotkin remembers the career of and his experiences with Leontyne Price and her singular voice on her 90th birthday.
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Comments [7]

Opera More Than Ever: Unusual Works to Discover in 2017-2018

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.
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Comments [8]

Singular Voices: George Michael

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.
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Comments [24]

Learning Words and Music from the Masters

Friday, January 27, 2017

Fred Plotkin shares that master classes are a great way to learn about the art of singing.
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Opera Stars in Public and in Private

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.
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Finding Warmth at the Opera and In Life

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."
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Comments [4]

Musical Reasons to Be Optimistic

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.
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Winter Wonders in Opera and Vocal Music for the New Year

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.
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Silent Nights, Noisy Nights

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.
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Comments [9]

A Changing of the Guard at the Vienna State Opera

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. 
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The Fourth Annual Excellence in Opera (aka The Freddie) Awards

Monday, December 19, 2016

Blogger Fred Plotkin honors and acknowledges many of the outstanding and memorable achievements in opera in 2016.
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Italian Lessons in Bologna with Gigliola Frazzoni

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fred Plotkin remembers his teacher, mentor and friend, Gigliola Frazzoni, the Italian opera singer who taught him about opera and Italian in Bologna.
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Comments [7]

The Russian Soul of Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Monday, December 12, 2016

Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky has withdrawn from all scheduled future opera performances to dedicate himself to treatment for a brain tumor. Fred Plotkin explores his artistry.
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French Lessons in Chicago with 'Les Troyens' and 'Don Quichotte'

Monday, December 05, 2016

Fred Plotkin visits Chicago and attends impressive performances of "Les Troyens" and "Don Quichotte" at Lyric Opera of Chicago. 
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Comments [9]

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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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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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 [10]