Molto Agitato

Molto Agitato

The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera

Book - 2001
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Behind the gold curtains of the Metropolitan Opera House, amidst the elaborate sets, bejeweled costumes, and labyrinth of administrative offices, the Met has traditionally operated in great secrecy. Until now. Johanna Fiedler, who was the Met's general press representative for fifteen years, draws upon her insider's knowledge and rivetingly reveals for the first time the company's Byzantine inner workings and the personal, social, economic, and artistic struggles that have always characterized the Met. Molto Agitato is a tale with an appropriately operatic cast of characters_haughty blue bloods, ambitious social climbers, determined administrators, stubborn board members, temperamental artists_all maneuvering to use their power and influence to make the Met conform to their own agendas. Fiedler brings to life the early days of the Met, with the imperious Toscanini arriving from Italy and Caruso filling the house; the post-WW II years, when the unions gained strength and plagued the company with strikes; and the ever present passions of tenors and sopranos, clashing offstage as well as on. But most revelatory are Fiedler's portrayals of James Levine and Joseph Volpe and their practically parallel ascendancies_Levine rising from prodigy to artistic director, Volpe advancing from stagehand to general manager_and their once strained relationship that was compounded by Volpe's much publicized firing of the soprano Kathleen Battle. With its swift-flowing narrative, Molto Agitato is a wonderfully entertaining and thoroughly engaging account not only of one of the world's most respected and richest music institutions but also of power, politics, ambition, and egos.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, c2001
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385481878
038548187X
Characteristics: xiii, 393 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm

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WVMLStaffPicks Dec 23, 2014

A delightfully told history of the Met, since its inception in 1883 with the Vanderbilts to the present day under Joseph Volpe and music director James Levine. The author, who was publicist for the opera house for fifteen years, has meticulously researched the early history and scandals, and is well qualified to relate later mishaps, a murder, and much more about performances, stage sets and directors. Opera buff or no this is an enjoyable read.

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