Volpe, Joseph 1940(?)-
Volpe, Joseph 1940(?)-
Born c. 1940, in Brooklyn, NY; son of a school teacher and a clothing manufacturer; divorced twice; married Jean Anderson Volpe (a former ballet dancer); children: eight.
Home—New York, NY.
Worked as an auto mechanic and carpenter on Broadway; Metropolitan Opera, New York, NY, apprentice carpenter, 1964-66, master carpenter, 1966-78, technical director, 1978-81, assistant manager, 1981-90, general manager, 1990-2006; Giuliani Partners, New York, NY, senior vice president, 2006—. Guest lecturer at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, and New York University's Stern School of Business.
(With Charles Michener) The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Joseph Volpe was the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for sixteen years. Following high school, he worked as an auto mechanic, and then as a theatrical carpenter on Broadway. In 1964, he was hired as an apprentice carpenter at the Metropolitan Opera, where he steadily rose through the ranks to become master carpenter, technical director, and assistant manager. In 1990, Volpe became general manager, the first to have been promoted from within the company. In the sixteen years he held the position, Volpe became known for his tough demeanor and blunt way of dealing with people, as well as for a thrifty nature that some believed put saving money before production values. He was also accused of showing blatant favoritism toward the singers he preferred and refusing to schedule others he believed to be demanding or exhibiting diva-like behavior. Volpe's book, The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera, which he wrote with Charles Michener, recounts stories from his tenure at the Met and his hard-won success. Anthony Tommasini, in a review for the New York Times, remarked: "Volpe's rise is a classic American success story, proof that grit, common sense, a willingness to knock heads and a demystifying attitude toward the fine arts can win out." A contributor for Town & Country called the book "a fascinating portrait of a surefooted, sometimes abrasive but mostly politically savvy CEO," while a reviewer for Publishers Weekly dubbed it a "brash, captivating memoir."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Volpe, Joseph, and Charles Michener, The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2006, review of The Toughest Show on Earth, p. 340.
Opera News, June, 2006, F. Paul Driscoll, review of The Toughest Show on Earth, p. 73.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006, review of The Toughest Show on Earth, p. 73.
Town & Country, June, 2006, "Man behind the Met," p. 124.
Wilson Quarterly, summer, 2006, Albert Innaurato, "Final Bow," review of The Toughest Show on Earth, p. 95.
New York Times Online,http://www.nytimes.com/ (June 25, 2006), Anthony Tommasini, "Nights at the Opera."*