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Cinderella & Company: Backstage at the Opera with Cecilia Bartoli

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A knowing, witty, and deliciously wicked inside look at opera today -- the feuds and deals, maestros and managers, divine voices, and outsized egos.Propelled by her lifelong passion for opera, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Manuela Hoelterhoff takes us on a two-year trip on the circuit with Cecilia Bartoli, the irresistible young mezzo whose popularity has set records i A knowing, witty, and deliciously wicked inside look at opera today -- the feuds and deals, maestros and managers, divine voices, and outsized egos.Propelled by her lifelong passion for opera, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Manuela Hoelterhoff takes us on a two-year trip on the circuit with Cecilia Bartoli, the irresistible young mezzo whose popularity has set records in music circles around the world. We see Bartoli among her family, her colleagues, her rivals; how she happened; what it is to be a diva; where the money comes from; and what the price can be for success. And, traveling from the Metropolitan to the backstages of the legendary opera houses of Europe, we meet everyone in Bartoli's world -- the Wagnerite obsessed with her cyberspace fan mail; the charismatic tenor with a complex love life; Luciano Pavarotti, aiming for the high Cs in his twilight years -- even as Hoelterhoff lets fly (brilliantly informed) gossip and opinions along the way. Dazzling entertainment, and an education in what makes the world of grand opera run -- and run amok.


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A knowing, witty, and deliciously wicked inside look at opera today -- the feuds and deals, maestros and managers, divine voices, and outsized egos.Propelled by her lifelong passion for opera, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Manuela Hoelterhoff takes us on a two-year trip on the circuit with Cecilia Bartoli, the irresistible young mezzo whose popularity has set records i A knowing, witty, and deliciously wicked inside look at opera today -- the feuds and deals, maestros and managers, divine voices, and outsized egos.Propelled by her lifelong passion for opera, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Manuela Hoelterhoff takes us on a two-year trip on the circuit with Cecilia Bartoli, the irresistible young mezzo whose popularity has set records in music circles around the world. We see Bartoli among her family, her colleagues, her rivals; how she happened; what it is to be a diva; where the money comes from; and what the price can be for success. And, traveling from the Metropolitan to the backstages of the legendary opera houses of Europe, we meet everyone in Bartoli's world -- the Wagnerite obsessed with her cyberspace fan mail; the charismatic tenor with a complex love life; Luciano Pavarotti, aiming for the high Cs in his twilight years -- even as Hoelterhoff lets fly (brilliantly informed) gossip and opinions along the way. Dazzling entertainment, and an education in what makes the world of grand opera run -- and run amok.

30 review for Cinderella & Company: Backstage at the Opera with Cecilia Bartoli

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Three and a half stars. Gossipy but well written account of the world of opera. I never knew that people could get criticized for doing too much charity work. I'm sure it was a challenge to write a book about an artist who is very reserved emotionally and keeps her private life private. The author hints that Bartoli suffered from depression, which would not have been surprising considering the difficulties her family had at the time the book was being written. This book was especially fun for me b Three and a half stars. Gossipy but well written account of the world of opera. I never knew that people could get criticized for doing too much charity work. I'm sure it was a challenge to write a book about an artist who is very reserved emotionally and keeps her private life private. The author hints that Bartoli suffered from depression, which would not have been surprising considering the difficulties her family had at the time the book was being written. This book was especially fun for me because I saw Bartoli's debut at the New England Conservatory many years ago when I was a gum-chewing ignoramus. I have since given up gum. I can't understand Hoelterhoff's fury at unions . . . perhaps it's because she worked for the Wall Street Journal? I'm giving my copy to a friend whose husband has worked with Bartoli a couple of times. He says she's delightful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    Cecilia Bartoli is on the cover and in the subtitle, but this is not as much a Bartoli biography as a snapshot of mid- to late-90s opera in and around her career: Her 1995 tour following her chart-topping collection of 18th-century Italian songs If You Love Me (1992) were two of the things that got me into opera at the time, so it is great to add the personal dimensions of her family life, frugality, and desire for fame in her native Italy. Also swirling around her are other divas, the economics Cecilia Bartoli is on the cover and in the subtitle, but this is not as much a Bartoli biography as a snapshot of mid- to late-90s opera in and around her career: Her 1995 tour following her chart-topping collection of 18th-century Italian songs If You Love Me (1992) were two of the things that got me into opera at the time, so it is great to add the personal dimensions of her family life, frugality, and desire for fame in her native Italy. Also swirling around her are other divas, the economics of operatic recordings past the age of their halo effect for labels, Pavarotti past his high C prime, Music Director of The Met James Levine as part of the unreasonableness of that venerable institution, and Columbia Artists Management Inc. CAMI. CAMI is the international leader in the management and touring activities of opera singers. I am proud that my local Michigan Opera Theatre under the leadership of David DiChiera has funded and staged new American works, generally one every season it seems. However, even I must admit these have so far always been more memorable to me for plot and scenery than melody. The author here also wonders if this genre will ever find a way to extent the bel canto canon. (Personally, I believe all music is destined to become curated and fossilized, only exhibited with a largely purist presentation. It just take centuries. The Let It Be musical and RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles are the symptoms of that disorder.) As for the current state of new operatic works, the author says "For most people, a modern opera has all the appeal of a large pill that must be swallowed on the orders of an unseen sadist. That's the legacy of fifty years of music that often sounds like water drips and surgery without anesthesia. Championed by a critical elite, nurtured by subsidies and tenured professorships... People just don't want to hear it anymore."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tina Guard

    I got this book used; it was flown to Germany from the US. The book was in great shape and it had post-its from the time its previous owner had read it 23 years ago! This added some nice historical touch - though the book didn't lack it on its own. One should not expect the biography of Bartoli nor a book about her alone; but it is a nice piece of journalism on the opera world of 1995-1997 and before that with some insights into Bartoli's life. I got this book used; it was flown to Germany from the US. The book was in great shape and it had post-its from the time its previous owner had read it 23 years ago! This added some nice historical touch - though the book didn't lack it on its own. One should not expect the biography of Bartoli nor a book about her alone; but it is a nice piece of journalism on the opera world of 1995-1997 and before that with some insights into Bartoli's life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Loosely follows Bartoli performances, but mostly focuses on agents and people in the business of opera houses. Gossipy and funny, and wow, do those singers miss a lot of performances, the big babies.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Another book given to me by my voice teacher. Since I'm not really an opera buff, I didn't expect to like this book all that much, but was pleasantly surprised when I did. It's focus is on the divas, money makers, and all the large personalities that make up the opera world. It's very well written with lots of gossipy wit and insight. Unlike big stars in film and TV, opera stars have no problem letting everyone know how difficult they are to work with. It's almost a badge of honor to be demandin Another book given to me by my voice teacher. Since I'm not really an opera buff, I didn't expect to like this book all that much, but was pleasantly surprised when I did. It's focus is on the divas, money makers, and all the large personalities that make up the opera world. It's very well written with lots of gossipy wit and insight. Unlike big stars in film and TV, opera stars have no problem letting everyone know how difficult they are to work with. It's almost a badge of honor to be demanding. This makes for delicious read. While the book does reference a lot of operas and singers, you don't have to be an expert to enjoy reading it. It is definitely a must for any opera fan.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Grace

    I wish I had not read this. Cecilia Bartoli's chocolatey rich soprano voice is so beautiful, distinctive, and otherworldly, but now when I hear her sing I am assaulted by the image of a large, sloppy, childish woman in sweatpants, an ordinary and vulgar person who happened to win the voicebox lottery. Perhaps Bartoli is a more complex as an artist and as an individual than she is portrayed to be in this book, perhaps not -- but if she really is this dull then no one should have written a book ab I wish I had not read this. Cecilia Bartoli's chocolatey rich soprano voice is so beautiful, distinctive, and otherworldly, but now when I hear her sing I am assaulted by the image of a large, sloppy, childish woman in sweatpants, an ordinary and vulgar person who happened to win the voicebox lottery. Perhaps Bartoli is a more complex as an artist and as an individual than she is portrayed to be in this book, perhaps not -- but if she really is this dull then no one should have written a book about her in the first place.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    I read this twice in quick succession because it was so totally bitchy and hilarious. It's one for opera fans. You've got to know your Gheorghius from your Flemings and your Eaglens from your Voigts to really appreciate it. I read this twice in quick succession because it was so totally bitchy and hilarious. It's one for opera fans. You've got to know your Gheorghius from your Flemings and your Eaglens from your Voigts to really appreciate it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Bartoli's flexible mezzo did not prohibit her from the achieving the fame usually only accorded to the soprano. Written with wit, this is an informative tour of Bartoliat work, as seen in various venues and backstages in the world of opera. Bartoli's flexible mezzo did not prohibit her from the achieving the fame usually only accorded to the soprano. Written with wit, this is an informative tour of Bartoliat work, as seen in various venues and backstages in the world of opera.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anna Trombetta

    Interesting look into the world of big international stars. Had hoped that it would provide more insight into how she got started and how she views the world she's in- more commentary from others around her. Interesting look into the world of big international stars. Had hoped that it would provide more insight into how she got started and how she views the world she's in- more commentary from others around her.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Johns

    Interesting look at the busy life of the world's #1 mezzo soprano. Interesting look at the busy life of the world's #1 mezzo soprano.

  11. 5 out of 5

    QOH

    More a 2.5. I love Bartoli's goofy earnestness as much as her voice, but this frenetic, disorganized book (about much more than "Cinderella") made her dull. The gossip is good, though. More a 2.5. I love Bartoli's goofy earnestness as much as her voice, but this frenetic, disorganized book (about much more than "Cinderella") made her dull. The gossip is good, though.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Magid

    This is a silly, frothy yet enjoyable fly-on-the wall look at the high camp world of opera, into which I am trying to break. Wish me luck...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Backstage at the Opera truly summarizes the book, with funny sly digs at nearly everyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter Johansson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Donald

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Levich

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ksenia Berestovskaya

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gail

  20. 4 out of 5

    Patricia L. Mossel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ria

  22. 4 out of 5

    JW

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  25. 4 out of 5

    D

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Hankerson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

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