MOLTO AGITATO: THE MAYHEM BEHIND THE MUSIC AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA by Johanna Fiedler

This is the perfect book for opera lovers or anyone who wants to know more about the greatest opera house in the United States. Fiedler writes clear, no-nonsense prose occasionally tinged with dry humor. This style is perfectly suited to her rich, bigger than life material. While the book is not primarily concerned with music, Fiedler knows and loves opera well and her knowledge helps keep the book grounded. At times, I wish she had spent more time on a particular period of the Met’s history. The book sometimes covers decades in a couple of chapters. Still, Fiedler had a lot to deal with and, even when she goes quickly, everything is always handled well. Aside from all the fun gossip, (and there is plenty of it) this book is invaluable for its insights into the difficulties of running an opera house, or any arts institution, in this country. There are also numerous portraits of interesting people associated with the Met over the years. Two of the best are of former General Manager Anthony Bliss and British director John Dexter. Both were absolutely fascinating individuals I would probably never have heard of were it not for this book.  Molto Agitato is an essential addition to any opera bookshelf. 

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