5000 Nights at the Opera, Sir Rudolf Bing

5000 nights at the opera

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One Response to “5000 Nights at the Opera, Sir Rudolf Bing”

  1. Lucy E. Says:

    This is the autobiography of Sir Rudolf Bing, who served as the director of the Metropolitan Opera for 22 years in the middle of the 20th century, when it was truly in its prime. The book highlights his childhood in Austria, his early rise to success as an administrator of opera houses, and subsequently his flight to England from Nazi Germany (he himself was Jewish). From there, it goes on to describe his artistic endeavors, from founding the Edinburgh Festival to heading one of the top opera companies in the world. His witty and dry humor pokes fun at the drama of an opera house, both onstage and off, and he describes in detail his feuds with some of the most beloved opera singers in history. The book paints a vivid picture of the pressure, successes, and mistakes one experiences when in charge of an iconic cultural centerpiece.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book. His voice is funny, slightly sarcastic and for the most part lighthearted, but his actual writing is not beautiful or even especially well crafted. Perhaps this is partly to do with English not being his native language, but he is not a talented writer. He is, however, a talented storyteller, and his recollections of drama are all comedic in retrospect, though would surely be frustrating to try and work through. This book is very enjoyable for people who love music, particularly opera, as it is the story of a man who, though not himself musically talented, was immersed in and in love with the world of music. It is also a fun read for those with knowledge of the operatic celebrities of Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti and Birgit Nilsson, as his interactions with them are featured in the story. Personally, I enjoyed this book because I am very passionate about opera, and it was fun to get a glimpse of what the most iconic singers and productions were like out of the public eye, as well as hear a side of the art form, the administrative one, that I had never really thought about before.

    Rating: 4 stars

    If you enjoyed reading this book, I would recommend “La Nilsson: My Life in Opera,” by Birgit Nilsson, “Molto Agitato,” by Johanna Fielder, “Call Me Debbie,” by Deborah Voigt and “A History of Opera,” by Carolyn Abbate

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