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Friday, Feb. 13, 2004

OF NOTE

Metropolitan Opera GM to retire

NEW YORK (AP) After more than four decades with the Metropolitan Opera, Joseph Volpe said he would retire as general manager in 2006.

"After being in the Met 40 years and this position 14 and understanding this job is an all-consuming one, it just felt the time had come to consider retirement and other things I'd like to do," Volpe said Monday.

Volpe, 64, joined the Met as a carpenter. He has been general manager since the 1990-1991 season.

During his tenure, he has developed lucrative relationships with wealthy patrons and introduced consumer-friendly services, such as electronic subtitles on the back of the opera's seats in 1995.

Volpe is known for his direct, take-charge approach to managing opera, where egos often run high. Most famously, he fired soprano Kathleen Battle in 1994, accusing her of "unprofessional actions."

In 2002, he publicly chastised Luciano Pavarotti for canceling a performance of "Tosca." From the stage, Volpe informed the audience that he told Pavarotti, "this is a hell of a way to end this beautiful career of yours."

Yet he made peace with Pavarotti, who is scheduled to return to the Met for three performances next month.

The chief difficulties now facing the Met include overcoming two consecutive years of deficits following the Sept. 11, 2001, attack in New York City and finding a sponsor to replace the ChevronTexaco Corp., which is ending its sponsorship of the Met's Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts following the current season.



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