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But Jackson's prose is highly readable, so this is no dry reference book. And he is candid about the advantages and disadvantages of the various singers over the years. Each opera is given a full considered review; Jackson has obviously listened carefully to each of the 140 broadcasts under consideration, which is quite a feat in itself. The result is a treasure trove for opera lovers, providing a consistent critical viewpoint over the ten years. The drawback, of course, is that such profuse detail can be a little wearing, and there is a danger that many names will be unfamiliar to the modern day reader.

In the ten years considered he covers some 77 different operas (in a total of 140 broadcasts). The only novelties are the aforementioned Barber and Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra, though Flotow's Martha and Offenbach's La Perichole are hardly commonplace. It is interesting to play spot the missing opera; Jenufa is present but Katya Kabanova is absent. Wozzeck is included, but not Lulu. Such comparisons give us a fascinating glimpse into the programming at the Met over the decade.

There are nearly one hundred pictures in the book, mixing posed publicity photographs with live shots of the performances, another aspect which makes the book indispensable. There is a useful appendix detailing each performance considered along with the cast. But I would have liked a little more analysis -- breakdowns by composer and summaries by performer would have been extremely informative.

Jackson's erudition and enthusiasm carry the reader along, but not everyone will find the book engrossing. However, if you have an interest in post-war operatic performance then you should consider this book.

Copyright © 25 February 2008 Robert Hugill, London UK


Start-up at the New Met
The Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts 1966-1976

Paul Jackson

Amadeus Press, 2006
ISBN13 9 781574 671476
ISBN10 1-57467-147-2
xvi+640 pages, hardback

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