13 December 2004

Hunding's Book Club

Anne M. vs. Pav.

The New York Times finally printed a review of the Herbert Breslin/Anne Midgette exposé The King and I, detailing our dear Luciano Pavarotti's oozing gluttony, sloth, and other deadlies that apply, but held off till the 8th paragraph to acknowledge that co-author Midgette is among their publication's classical music critics. Rival Washington Post, on the other hand, in their review from months ago, didn't mince words in questioning Midgette's integrity, launching a low blow right in the lead:

The King and I is a vulgar, mean-spirited book that casts little credit on either the author, Herbert Breslin, or the subject, the world-renowned opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti. It also makes one wonder why co-author Anne Midgette, a respected music critic for the New York Times, would lend herself to such a project.
It makes you wonder, indeed, whether Midgette was wise to risk her "reputation" as "venerable" NYT music "critic" for such a spleeny collection of anecdotes. Midgette obtaining a Pav interview for their book's final chapter (where Pav declares "Herbert was my wife in the opera" ) is particularly nasty:
... a final chapter, presented as the work of Pavarotti himself. One suspects that the tenor was invited to add his two cents worth without first being given the chance to read the rest of the book.
This is Anne's first music-related book, and it's already Kitty Kelley delish, and if I were a secretive maestro or a loony intendant or Lois Kirschenbaum or her kind, I'd beware the Midgette pen. But long-story-short, I will not acquire the book till it dips below $3 (used) on Amazon, so I'm relying on sensational tidbits culled from the web to warm these deep winter nights. This one from Pittsburgh is particularly bitchy:
(Breslin) tells us that soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was "a great beauty ... onstage. ...Offstage, she looked more like a ... cleaning woman." He calls Joan Sutherland "pretty dopey," Kiri Te Kanawa "boring," Katia Ricciarelli "vacant."