Paul Jackson's third book
about the Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts,
reviewed by ROBERT HUGILL
This is the third of Paul Jackson's books on the Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts. The previous two covered the years 1931 to 1950 and 1951 to 1966. As in the previous books, Jackson combines potted history with a broadcast by broadcast account of the opera performances. Each broadcast is carefully considered, giving us substantial musical criticism, plus the necessary musical and historical background.
The advantage of this scheme is that it effectively gives us a performing history of the Met. The drawbacks are that the history only considers broadcasts, so non-broadcast performances might get a mention but are not considered in detail.
The other inevitable consequence is that the narrative can become a little repetitive. Granted, quite a lot happens in the volume; it opens with a bang (or a whimper) with Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, and goes on to cover Rudolph Bing's final seasons in charge. But the operas, and cast members, crop up with monotonous regularity. The broadcast list for this period includes six performances of Aida, six of La bohème, seven of Carmen and seven of Madam Butterfly, out of a total of 140. This makes it a book to dip into rather than one to read consistently.
Copyright © 25 February 2008
Robert Hugill, London UK