REQUIEM FOR A YELLOW BRICK BREWERY: A History of the Metropolitan Opera by John Briggs

REQUIEM FOR A YELLOW BRICK BREWERY: A History of the Metropolitan Opera

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Mr. Briggs belts out the noble history of the recently destroyed Metropolitan Opera House like a diva on double time but it's an amusing performance. He recounts the early straggles in financing and inaugurating the reign of the edifice, including the agonies of architect Josiah Cady whose original design, intended for a neat rectangular block on Vanderbilt Avenue, had to be pinched and squeezed for accommodation to fit a wildly irregular site on Broadway. He wings through the vagaries of the new-rich box holders and the elder ""Knickerbocker aristocracy"" who drifted' where the power--and action--was; he discusses the trials of successful and unsuccessful managers. However, opera fans are incurable star watchers, and the bulk of this 'tribute concerns the stage and offstage personalities of the great, in stories old and new--mainly the loved and Venerable. Patti singing the longest ""Lesson Scene"" from The Barber on record, including ""Home Sweet Home""; Caruso dubbing a bass aria for a fallen comrade in La Boheme; the Nordica-Melba feud, and it was Slezak who missed the last Swan in Lohengrin, not Melchior. There may be those who will grumble at Britts' treatment of the Flagstad political controversy, his assessment of the voice of Grace Moore as ""glorious"" and that of Pinza as ""powerful but not beautiful."" However, with familiar photographs (from Caruso banging his drum to the Chaplinesque tableau of Toscanini, Gatti-Casazza and Farrar) this is, for Family Circle and Milton Cross alumni, divertimenti con spirito.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1969
Publisher: Little, Brown