I put this onto my Kindle because I follow Christopher on Twitter; this stemmed from when he appeared in Il Postino at Los Angeles Opera.I continued following him because of his intelligent insight into the life of an opera singer.
Like any branch of entertainment (and sport) we tend to think of the Big Star Names and the Glamorous Lifestyles that we imagine that they lead. But the Big Names would be nothing without the legion of supporting performers travelling and alternating between big roles in small houses and smaller roles in big houses.
The title is derived from his frequent performances as Flute in Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream - one of the acting troupe, The Mechanicals, who perform the play within the play. And as the peripatetic singers move from opera house to opera house, they often find themselves working closely with people they've never met - or, let's be honest, even heard of - before.
In some ways, I think this is an "insider's" book. I have read reviews and praise from singers and other opera professionals who identify strongly with the situations depicted. As an opera fan with no experience of working in the theatre it lifts the veil of the mysterious arts required to put on an opera. There's a risk in knowing what happens behind the scenes, the possibility of destroying the magic. But I am by nature curious, and I think that knowing a little more about the creative process can lend a greater appreciation to what happens on stage.
A well written book, in that I moved swiftly through it. There was some disconnection in that different chapters, referring to different occasions, were not in strict chronological order, but it was well signed and never confusing. It is published via Lulu, self-publishing, as an increasing number of writers do nowadays. I can absolutely set your mind at rest. This is a quality book, and I didn't notice any sub-editing howlers, which can often occur, even in books supposedly professionally edited and published by established book companies.
I can't claim to have laughed out loud, but it was an interesting insight into the (often) drudgery of working in opera, the difficulties in being away from home, the problems in cancelling for personal reasons when there's no replacement, and the difficulties in financing travel and accommodation for several weeks' rehearsal, when payment is strictly for performance - and contingent on not falling ill on the night. To be honest, I think you have to be interested in opera, or theatre-craft to appreciate this book, but I would definitely recommend it to anybody who wants to understand more about the practicalities of putting on a show. And if you have illusions that all opera singers live the lives of pampered pop stars, prepare for them to be shattered!