Molto Agitato by Johanna Fiedler
The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera

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If the opera world is full of “intrigue, double meanings, and devious dramatics,” then no place exemplifies this more than the world-famous Metropolitan Opera, where politics, ambition, and oversized egos have traditionally taken center stage along with some of the world’s richest music. Drawing on her fifteen years as its press representative, Johanna Fiedler explodes the traditional secrecy that surrounds the Met in this wonderfully entertaining account of its tumuluous history.

Fiedler chronicles the Met’s early days as a home for legends like Toscanini, Mahler, and Caruso, and gives a fascinating account of the middle years when haughty blue-bloods battled stubborn adminstrators for control of a company that would emerge as America’s premiere opera house. She takes us behind the grand gold-curtain stage in more recent years as well, showing how musical superstars like Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and Kathleen Battle have electrified performances and scandalized the public. 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. Weaving together the personal, economic, and artistic struggles that characterize the Met’s long and vibrant history, Molto Agitato is a must-read saga of power, wealth, and, above all, great music.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Johanna Fiedler

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Johanna Fiedler is the daughter of Arthur Fiedler, the long-time conductor of the Boston Pops, and has worked in the field of classical music for many years. She is the author of Arthur Fiedler: Papa, the Pops, and Me. She lives in New York City.
Published September 9, 2003 by Anchor. 448 pages
Genres: History, Business & Economics, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A thoroughgoing, eyeball-rolling institutional history of the Metropolitan Opera that concentrates on the personalities to pretty much the exclusion of the art, from Fiedler (Arthur Fiedler, 1994), for 15 years the press representative of the Met.

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Publishers Weekly

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She is particularly good on its early history—the Met began when the newly wealthy Mrs. Vanderbilt was turned down for a box at the old Academy of Music, then New York's opera house, and decided, in 1883, to start her own—and gives a delicious picture of an era when opera in the city was essentia...

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Book Reporter

In the early days, the Metropolitan Opera was likened to Edith Wharton's "Lost New York," as the boxholders were the affluent superrich.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Beh...

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