Tuesday, March 18, 2008

All Over the Map

So I just finished reading The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera by Joseph Volpe. A fascinating journey from apprentice carpenter to General Director over forty-odd years was experienced by me as strangely light reading. It is very obviously written in the style of his ghost-author and doesn't sound very authentic at all. What is authentic is his drive, confidence, ego and a very large chip on his shoulder. Pretty much everyone else in the history of the world is more flawed and near-sighted than he is. He does admit to the occasional lack of judgment, but nothing compared to all who have come before him, his colleagues and - no doubt - all who will follow. I'm glad I read it. I admire the man for what he has managed to accomplish (not the least of which is the firm and effective handling of the various powerful unions with which he had to negotiate lo those many years), but he makes a fatal error of criticizing Rudolf Bing's two-volume memoirs of being the chief guy at the Met. Yikes. He also names names and lets them have it for their general lack of ability in a very shameless manner. I wonder if any lawsuits came out of this publication? I don't recommend this book unless you are a major opera fan and curious about the Met in general.

I've just started The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley-Robinson. A fiction, whose premise is: what if 99% of Europe was wiped out by the Black Death.... and the Chinese and Muslim populations swept westward? The history of the world from that time to the present is told. I'm very curious!

No comments: