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Baritone doesn't soften things in book about life

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
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'Adventures in the Scream Trade' by Charles Long

A good title is no guarantee of a good book, but Charles Long's “Adventures in the Scream Trade” is an uncommonly candid and opinionated account of his life as a starring operatic baritone.

The Butler native is home in Pittsburgh this week for book signings at two Barnes & Noble stores, one of which just happens to be near his mom's house.

Long's book went through many revisions during the 17 years he worked on it. The title was inspired by William Goldman's “Adventures in the Screen Trade.”

“What a lot of people don't realize, and people still ask me about it, is that opera singers have no mics, no amplification,” he says. “It is astonishing to some people that you're standing in a 3,200- or 4,000-seat house and have to sing over (a full orchestra). You are essentially singing at the top of your volume all night long, except when you tone it down, which is a minority of time. ... Opera is not subtle. It's a big, bold art form, and it requires volume.”

The individuality of Long's thought even extends to his glossary. But then, the book is clear that he's never been a shrinking violet.

“Something in me made me realize very early on that my observations were really the only essential ones,” he says. “I don't know what it came from. My parents were both very strong individuals. Perhaps it was that I became comfortable holding my opinions as long as I had them thought out. But when I have a thought about something, I would write it down. Once I had written it, it was mine. I always had this literary desire to get my thoughts on the page.”

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com

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