Sopranos, Mezzos, Tenors, Bassos, and Other Friends

Schuyler Chapin, Author, James Daniel Radiches, Photographer
Schuyler Chapin, Author, James Daniel Radiches, Photographer Crown Publishers $64.3 (266p) ISBN 978-0-517-58864-2
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A gent, Chapin abides by his word not to burden opera devotees with ``treacly apographs or pompous coffee-table essays.'' Still, neither can it be said that his book is notable for its high-cultural dignity, given his reminiscences of a terrified Birgit Nilsson wetting her pants on stage in a 1972 Met production of Siegfried as the prop mechanics failed. Along with recreating the Sturm und Drang of his tenure as general manager of the Metropolitan Opera House (1972-1975), Chapin, who is now Cultural Commissioner of New York City, provides revealing sidelights on the characters of the 30 music artists he profiles. Heldentenor Jon Vickers is given to verbal fireworks in his passion to ``do things right''; soprano Teresa Stratas, ``a slip of a woman,'' elicits Chapin's ``frustration and exasperation'' but also his love and awe; basso Martti Talvela, at 6'7,'' is a ``gentle giant.'' Chapin has booked a dream cast for this production. Among the singers profiled are Richard Tucker, Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, James Morris and Luciano Pavarotti. His ``other friends'' include Stephen Sondheim, Andre Previn, Isaac Stern and James Levine. (Oct.)
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