In Character

In Character

Opera Portraiture

by John F. Martin

Foreword by Amy Tan | Preface by David Gockley


In Character: Opera Portraiture by John F. Martin (November 4, $34.99, Amadeus Press) memorably captures operatic performers away from the audience but fully inhabiting their roles.

For six years, Martin set up a portable studio in the basement of the San Francisco Opera and photographed the players – in costume and full makeup – right before or after they took the stage. The subjects range from nonsinging supernumeraries through chorus members and comprimarii to opera’s greatest stars, including Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Deborah Voigt, Juan Diego Flórez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Their roles run the gamut of opera personalities: heroes and heroines, villains and outcasts, royalty and common folk, Biblical figures and creatures of myth. Facing Martin’s camera, each artist projects the essence of his or her character, however great or small the part.

In Character begins with a foreword by renowned writer Amy Tan, whose oeuvre includes the libretto for the opera The Bonesetter’s Daughter and a preface by David Gockley, general director of the San Francisco Opera, followed by insightful essays on opera experts on the vital role of costumes and the transformation of singers into characters, and an interview with world-renowned soprano Danielle de Niese. The book is organized by the roles portrayed: Heroes and Heroines; Ingénues and Worldly Women; Nobility, Aristocracy, and High Society; Townspeople and Villagers; Artists, Clergy, and Other Professionals; Soldiers, Servants, and Slaves; and Gypsies and Outcasts. Other chapters include Biblical and Exotic Lands, Fantasia, and even a hilarious section of “outtakes.”

The portraits, often done in the style of the Old Masters, art works of art in themselves, even apart from any association with opera. A collection unlike any other, In Character will appeal to opera and theater buffs, costume and fashion aficionados, and anyone who appreciates fine art photography.

November 4, 2014
9” x 12”

284 pages


John F. Martin is a photographer with 25 years of experience and a passion for opera. His publications include a commemorative book on Amy Tan’s opera The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and his work has appeared in periodicals such as Visual Artbeat and blogs such as Elizabeth Avedon, F-Stop Magazine, and Lenscratch. His work is in the SFMOMA Artists Gallery and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. He lives in Graton, Calif.

In Character_Cover_9X12_with index.indd

Brian May’s Red Special

Brian May’s Red Special

The Story of the Home-Made Guitar That Rocked Queen and the World

by Brian May with Simon Bradley


Brian May and his father Harold started to hand-build an electric guitar in 1963. Brian dreamed of a guitar that would outperform any of the existing commercially made electric guitars; his father had the technical knowledge and skills to help make the dream come true. Brian played his guitar on every Queen album and in all of Queen’s live shows around the world.

In Brian May’s Red Special (October 2014, Hal Leonard Books, $30) fans will discover everything they ever wished to know about Brian’s unique instrument. Brian talks about every aspect of the Red Special, from its birth to playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace, from Live Aid to the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics – and beyond. All of this is accompanied with original diagrams, sketches and notes dating from the building of the guitar, as well as a great selection of photographs including Brian on stage with his guitar, close-ups and x-rays.

“My dad and I decided to make an electric guitar. I designed an instrument from scratch, with the intention that it would have a capability beyond anything that was out there, more tunable, with a greater range of pitches and sounds, with a better tremolo, and with a capability of feeding back through the air in a ‘good’ way’.”

Featuring rare and previously unreleased photographs of Brian and his father, Queen, and the Red Special, including photographs of the guitar fully dismantled, Brian May’s Red Special is the story of a truly unique instrument, told by the man who has been playing it for more than half a century.

October 14, 2014
8.5″ x 11”

144 pages


Brian May is best known as the lead guitarist of the supergroup Queen. In addition, he has a PhD in Astrophysics and is an expert in 3D photography. He co-wrote Bang! The Complete History of the Universe with Chris Lintott and Patrick Moore, A Village Lost and Found with Elena Vidal, and Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures In Hell with Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming. He lives in London.

Simon Bradley has been a professional guitar journalist since 1966 and is currently a multimedia editor at Guitarist magazine. He has also written for Total Guitar, What Guitar?, Guitar Techniques, SFX, T3, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Future Music, Computer Music, Rhythm, and many websites. He lives in London.


The Art of Gothic

The Art of Gothic

Music + Fashion + Alt Culture

by Natasha Sharf


The gothic look – head-to-toe black attire and extreme makeup – has been a popular one since the 1980s, with each generation reinterpreting this dark aesthetic as its own. From the staccato postpunk of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the dark rock of the Sisters of Mercy through to the industrial metal of Marilyn Manson and the funereal emotional pop of My Chemical Romance, gothic culture has strong roots in music and continues to adapt and survive.

But gothic art is about more than just album covers and ephemera; it’s about fashion, book jackets, cinematography, and fine art. Its influence frequently seeps into mainstream culture too. Nowadays, “goth” comes in many shapes, sizes, and even colors, as it encompasses a myriad of subgenres, including cyber, death rock, gothic metal, gothic Lolita, and emo goths. Although each is different, followers are identified by their striking, often theatrical look, music with a hint of melancholy, and the ability to find beauty in morbidity, sometimes even in the macabre.

The Art of Gothic (November 2014, Backbeat Books, $35) by Natasha Scharf is the first heavily illustrated tome to explore the aesthetics of this fascinating style in great detail. Previous books on goth have given a bold overview of the music and culture associated with the genre, but this book goes deeper and hones in on the album art, intricate fashions, fantasy illustrations, and more.

November 4, 2014
224 pages

9¾” x 11″
color illustrations and photographs throughout


Natasha Scharf is a music and alt-culture journalist. She founded and edited Meltdown in 1999, which became the UK’s best-selling magazine for goths. She now writes for the UK magazines Metal Hammer and Prog. She is also the author of the book Worldwide Gothic. In addition, Scharf styles gothic photo shoots from jewelry and clothing brands and is recognized worldwide as an expert in the goth aesthetic. Scharf lives in London.


Robert Plant: The Voice that Sailed the Zeppelin

Robert Plant

The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin

by Dave Thompson


A fresh look at the man whose primal howl made Led Zeppelin soar and who forged his own path after the flight was over.

With the title of his latest album, lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, Robert Plant illustrates the dichotomy of a life lived both within the glare of the fiercest spotlight and as far from it as he could get. This dichotomy also lies at the heart of Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin (October 2014, Backbeat Books, $26.99), Dave Thompson’s engrossing study of a truly remarkable career

Thompson follows the iconic singer on two parallel track: one through his heights of fame with rock colossus Led Zeppelin, and another through his second life as a multimillion-selling solo artist., and his more idiosyncratic pursuits. Thompson details Plant’s early years as an unknown in Birmingham, England, with fresh depth and insight. He likewise tells the Zeppelin story from new and unexpected angles, focusing on Plant’s contributions to the band’s success and on the toll of that success on him as a performer and an individual.

Two years after drummer John Bonham died in 1980 and Zeppelin broke up, Plant went solo, in time becoming the only former band member to maintain an unbroken career to this day. His single-mindedness in meeting this challenge might well be his greatest personal attribute, enabling him to push forward without regard for his past or any related expectations. Thompson shows how it is Plant’s determination alone that ensured Zeppelin reunions would not become a routine part of the classic rock furniture, as he created a body of work that in so many ways artistically rivals what he recorded with the band.

Woven throughout Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin are excerpts from Thompson’s conversations with Plant’s friends and associates, including Jeff Beck, Deborah Bonham, and Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. The book also draws upon Plant’s own music and that which surrounded him since childhood, and it delves into the mythological fascinations that have helped shape Plant’s work.

Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin is the story of the consummate rock star who is as far from that archetype as it is possible to be.

October 21, 2014
6″ x 9″
280 pages

Two 8-page photo inserts

Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


DAVETHOMPSONDave Thompson is the author of more than 100 books on television, music, and pop culture, including Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, and Hearts of Darkness, both published by Backbeat Books and Sherlock Holmes FAQ and Doctor Who FAQ, published by Applause Books. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Goldmine, MOJO, Melody Maker, and other outlets. He lives in Newark, Del.



The Room: The Definitive Guide

The Room

The Definitive Guide

by Ryan Finnigan


Entertainment Weekly called it “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” National Public Radio said it is “a cult hit so bad, it’s good.” And The Independent of London observed, “It may be sublimely rubbish, but The Room makes audiences happy.”

The Room is the biggest pop culture phenomenon of the 21st century, having become one of the most popular theatrical releases of all time, since its arrival in 2003, and The Room: The Definitive Guide by Ryan Finnigan (November 2014, Applause Books, $24.99) is the key that unlocks Tommy Wiseau’s beguiling masterpiece of so-bad-it’s-good filmmaking.

Written with both the newcomer and the repeat (and repeat and repeat) viewer in mind, The Room: The Definitive Guide explains to all how, as Finnigan puts it in his introduction, “a film that should never have been remembered became something of longevity and influence.”

Part One looks at the act of viewing The Room, interacting with and sharing the film with others, and certain viewing customs. Part Two parses the details of the film itself, focusing on key scenes and their motivations. Along the way, interviews with cast recall the making of the film and cult following that has grown around it since. Finally, Part Three attempts to understand Tommy Wiseau, with an analysis of his further work, and also looks at the international bestseller The Room inspired, The Disaster Artist by cast member Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.

Designed and illustrated by cult film artist Mute, The Room: The Definitive Guide is as eye-catching and distinctive as the film that inspired it.

So get your tuxedo on, grab your football, have your spoons at the ready, and prepare to shout, “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” for the first or 1,000th time, as we enter The Room.

November 4, 2014
Paperback Original
200 pages
 x 10
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books is an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

RRyan_Finniganyan Finnigan is a writer on film specializing in cult films. He is the editor of [SIC] Blog (, a website covering independent, alternative, and cult titles. In addition, he is one half of the cult film night duo, “The Five and Dime Picture Show,” and is the joint programmer and host of their event screenings. He lives in Sheffield, England.


The Composer’s Landscape

The Composer’s Landscape

The Pianist as Explorer

Interpreting the Scores of Eight Masters

by Carol Montparker


Derived from her popular series of lecture-recitals presented by over the past several years, The Composer’s Landscape: The Pianist as Explorer – Interpreting the Scores of Eight Masters by Carol Montparker (September 2014, Amadeus Press, $29.99) features eight insightful essays on the piano repertoire, through a pianist’s eyes..

Each chapter in The Composer’s Landscape focuses on a single composer: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, and Mendelssohn. Montparker uses “landscape” as a metaphor for the score, whether it be a well-tended garden of Mozart or the thorny thickets on a Schumann page: the topographical peaks and valleys, the circuitous melodic lines, the thoroughfares where all the voices convene, and so on. The discussions include thoughtful suggestions for navigating these “landscapes,” which differ so greatly from one composer to the next, taking note of the essential technical and interpretive elements, as well as the challenges for the “explorer pianist.”

As an actively performing pianist, lecturer, teacher, music journalist, and author of six other books on music, Montparker has the experience and understanding to guide readers through these issues while elucidating the finer points. Woven into her text are excerpts from her interviews with world-renowned pianists, from Alfred Brendel to André Watts, conducted during her many years as senior editor of Clavier magazine.

Illustrated with images from original autograph manuscripts and a CD of Montparker performing selections by the featured composers, The Composer’s Landscape will inform and charm pianists and music lovers alike

September 19, 2014
Paperback Original with CD
288 pages
 x 9
Amadeus Press is an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation

About the Author:

CarolMontparker2Carol Montparker, an acclaimed author and pianist, is a Steinway Artist and an active recitalist and lecturer. Among her other books are The Blue Piano and Other Stories, A Pianist’s Landscape, and Polly and the Piano, all from Amadeus Press. Montparker’s career in music journalism includes 15 years as senior editor of Clavier magazine and pieces in the New York Times, Newsday, and many other publications. She lives in Huntington, N.Y.



Sondheim & Lloyd-Webber and The Wordsmiths

Sondheim & Lloyd-Webber and The Wordsmiths

by Stephen Citron


Applause Books, America’s foremost publisher of theater and cinema books, has released two books by Stephen Citron in its Great Songwriters Series: The Wordsmiths: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd and Alan Jay Lerner and Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical (September 2014, Applause Books, $24.99)

Incomparable and unique in their ability to write both libretti and lyrics, Oscar Hammerstein and Alan Jay Lerner brought the musical theater to an artistic peak that remains unsurpassed. From Show Boat, Oklahoma!, and The Sound of Music to Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, and Camelot, they wrote the book and lyrics for one glittering gem after another.

Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished manuscripts, lyrics, letters, and interviews, Stephen Citron’s dual biography, Wordsmiths, brings to life the strikingly different worlds of Hammerstein and Lerner – two remarkable artists who revolutionized musical theater. Citron’s narrative brims with fascinating stories about these two master wordsmiths, sweeping readers along Hammerstein’s roller-coaster career with its mixture of hits and flops – contrasted sharply with Lerner’s endless rewrites, eight marriages, and debilitating drug habits.

In Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber, Citron takes on two leading contributors to the lyric stage. By exploring the works of these two giants of musical theater and those of their contemporaries, Citron also simultaneously guides readers along the winding path of musical theater.

Beginning with Sondheim’s lyrics-only works West Side Story, Gypsy, and Do I Hear A Waltz? through his scores for A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park, and Into the Woods, among other classic musicals, Citron presents major milestones of musical theater, exploring the influence of the artist’s youthful training and private life upon his creative output. Lloyd-Webber’s musical contributions – from his early works The Likes of Us and Joseph to his smash hits Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera, among others – are also thoroughly analyzed.

Wordsmiths and Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber feature chronologies that reveal the artists’ lives within the scope of world events, copious quotations from their works, and extensive bibliographies. Both are essential editions to the library of any fan of musical theater.

The Wordsmiths: 9781480386488
Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: 9781480386495
September 23, 2014
 x 9
464 pages

Applause Theatre & Cinema Books is an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:                                                                                                                                       

Stephen Citron (1924-2013) was one of the world’s best-known musical theater historians, as well as a composer, pianist, lyricist, and lecturer. His book Songwriting is the standard reference on the subject. He also wrote acclaimed biographies, including in-depth musical analysis in such works as Noel and Cole: The Sophisticates (also available in this series from Applause Books) andJerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune.