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Join us for a discussion of the book Molto Agitato by Johanna Fiedler.
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.
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.