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Contact: irina.stanescu@ymail.com
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Behind the music. Weekend reading


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Have you ever asked yourselves what's behind what you see on a stage of an operahouse on a certain evening? What's behind those 3 or 4 hours of music? Or, in other words, how is it made? We see the last stage of the process, but I'm sure it's complicated and involves a lot of hard work and emotions. And maybe there's more behind it than we, from our confortable seates in the opera house, could ever imagine. I bought these books out of curiosity. I thought..what can they say more than I already know or read? A lot more.
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They helped me understand better what being an artist or manager of a famous opera house means. And I'll think twice before judging a certain artist according only to what's written in the newspapers.
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So, a few words about each book. They're not difficult reading. actually, they're all very enjoyable because appart from the seriousness of talking about art, there are gossips, jokes, stories of family and careers told by insiders.
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Book #1 - The Inner Voice, The Making of a Voice, written by Renee Fleming (2005). I bought it from Borders, but it's also available on Amazon.com. Did you know that she started as a jazz singer? Or that she studied many, many years in Germany? Well, you'll find out when reading. The two girls, Amelia and Sage, that she raised almost by herself, studies, first contracts, endless auditions, idols, failures, roles.. they're all in there.
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Book #2 - Cindarella&Company, the Backstage at the Opera with Cecilia Bartoli, written by Manuela Hoelterhoff (1999). Bought it from the Met Shop but if you're not in NY, try again on Amazon.com. The author received a Pulitzer Prize for cultural criticism at the Wall Street Journal.
This book has a funnier tone than the prevoius one. She brings La Bartoli in the center but depicts the entire world around her. I bet you didn't know that Cecilia was so afraid of flight when she was young that she only travelled by boat (yes, also between Europe and US), by train in private coaches or by car. Or that she loves to drive. And speaking of driving, the end of the book is .. unexpected :). Or that at 20 she was brave enough to say NO to Karajan and proved she was right. Or that she used to cancel quite a lot when she was younger...These and many more stories, not always happy ones, in the book. By the way, Angela&Roberto's names appear several times as their roads crossed with Bartoli's often at the Met and elsewhere.
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Book #3 - Molto agitato - The Mayhem behind the music at the Metropolitan Opera, by Johanna Fiedler (2001). Again, bought from Borders. Try Amazon.com.This is the story of the Met, from Bing&Bliss to present times. Conductors, artists, moving to Lincoln Center, the crises the Met had to face and the ways out of them, the debuts of all famous names in the world of opera (Angela and Roberto included, in several chapters). And because this year James Levine celebrates 40 years at the Met, here's how he started:
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" [...] Bing (aka Rudolf Bing, the Austrian opera impresario that was the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera between 1950 and 1972) quietly made a decision that would prove to have far greater impact on the company. On November 12, 1970, he had signed an almost unknown young conductor for the series of Tosca performances during his final season in 1971 - 1972. James Levine had been recommanded to him Kurt Herbert Adler, the intendant of the San Francisco Opera, and on that basis, Bing invited Levine. Levine made his Met debut in 1971".(quote from Chapter 10).
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Just another weekend off topic post. But if you get the books, I hope you'll enjoy the behind-the-scenes look. There might be many other books on the same topic, but I just happened to pick these up from the shelves. If you have any other fav book on opera, let me know, ok?
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