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The King and I: The Uncensored Tale of Luciano Pavarotti's Rise to Fame by His Manager, Friend and Sometime Adversary Hardcover – October 19, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (October 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385509723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385509725
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this outspoken and entertaining book, the authors chronicle Breslin's 36 years as publicist and manager for tenor Pavarotti, from the early days when the singer was, Breslin says, "a very beautiful, simple, lovely guy," to the final years of his career, when Breslin found him "a very determined, aggressive, and somewhat unhappy superstar." In Breslin's frank telling, Pavarotti emerges as a charming but utterly impossible man with an outsized ego, a need to dominate, a total disregard for other people (from secretaries and coaches to world-renowned conductors) and a passion for food, women, horses and money. Breslin is blunt about Pavarotti's many quirks and foibles, such as his superstitions, his inability to read music and his frequent failure to learn the words of his opera parts in time for performances. Accounts of the singer's missteps in recent years, such as the embarrassing final Metropolitan Opera appearances, are especially unflattering. Tenor and manager parted by mutual agreement, but Breslin doesn't take the separation lightly. Pavarotti seems unaffected by the acrimony; the book concludes with an interview he gave Midgette, a classical music reviewer for the New York Times, in which he expresses appreciation for his longtime manager and friend.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

At his career peak, Pavarotti was called the king of the high Cs. But Breslin, his manager for 36 years, called him Mr. Brain; he knew everything, you see. With his clear, projecting voice, Pavarotti rose to fame with a strategy of impressive solo concertizing that eventually propelled him to the operatic stage. His first loves, however, were food and the society of family and friends. Generous, he also had a lazy streak that later stunted the development of his repertoire. He had trouble memorizing words, and he never read music. He moved minimally onstage, preferring to emote through singing, not action; his foray into movies, Yes, Giorgio, was a near disaster. Breslin's forte was his stubbornness at getting everything his client wanted--and he is driven by money. Sprinkled with many stories of other clients and Pavarotti's costars, the book is more about the manager-client relationship, including the coddling and the epithets, than about Pavarotti per se. Nevertheless, its stories of a star's rise and fall are told from the heart. Alan Hirsch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Bravo Herbert Breslin for an enjoyable read; I could not put the book down.
Jan Comsky
This book is mostly a list of complaints that Breslin had in reference to working for Pavarotti.
Agustine
It seems like a very honest book with many insites into the world of Pavarotti.
Kindle Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The opera's not over `til the manager sings. At least that's the case in Herbert Breslin's no holds barred dishy tale of his 36 years as manager, friend, and yes, foe of the famed Luciano Pavarotti, arguably the most well known name in contemporary opera. It's all here - the temper, the tackiness, the brilliance.

Of their years together Breslin writes, "Sometimes he was a great, great client. Sometimes he acted like he ruled the world around him and everyone in it, including me. Sometimes he was a close and generous friend. Sometimes he was a real pain in the ....." All of those descriptions are fleshed out with witty, wrathful, and appreciative accounts of their days together.

"The King & I" is one of those bios in which one learns as much about the "I" as we do about "The King." As it turns out, that's pretty good reading, too. Breslin begins when he was 33-years-old working as a speech writer for Chrysler in Detroit. That, he calls misery. After all. He's a New Yorker, and he loves opera. Determined to become a part of the opera world, he began by working for John Crosby who had just founded the Santa Fe Opera. His salary? $0.00.

All he had was determination and a huge hunk of chutzpah. Little did he know that some day he would manage the most famous names in the world of classical music - Renata Tebaldi, Alicia de Larrocha, Marilyn Horne, Placido Domingo, and, of course, Luciano Pavarotti.

Initially, according to the author, Pavarotti was amenable, eager to please. Yet, there must of been some inkling of his later demeanor in the fact that never once in all their years together did Pavarotti ever go to Breslin's office - Breslin always came to him.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Agustine on February 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is mostly a list of complaints that Breslin had in reference to working for Pavarotti. He didn't complain about the money he made though in exploiting this mans talent. Pavarotti was human like the rest of us and of course had his faults. Others have described him as warm, loving and generous. This may be illustrated by the chapter that Pavarotti wrote at the end of this book. He was most generous to Breslin in his comments and never mentioned anything unflattering about his former manager. Maybe this illustrates the attitudes of the two men better than anything Breslin mentions in the book. Finally, Pavarotti will be defined most by his incomparable voice and great talent. He was truly the greatest tenor. Vinceroooooooo! Vinceroooooooooo! Mr. Pavarotti, you won!! You won!!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By hardtruth on February 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I read this before his death, and even then it seemed like a low blow. The author is so busy touting his own importance and taking credit for everything, that he consciously and unconsciously makes Pavarotti the fool(not that he wasn't in some ways). A more accurate title would have been, ME and the king.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Giovanni Abrate on March 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reading this book, I was impressed by Pavarotti's patience with Mr Breslin. It is clear that the man was driven by money and, notwithstanding his repeated claims of affection towards Pavarotti, his book shows little evidence of any true "friendship". So Pavarotti was not perfect! Big surprise! He was a typical tenor and behaved like one and he was the greatest. He ranks up there with Caruso and Gigli; he gave everything for his fans and his fans loved him, warts and all. I finished the book feeling a renewed sense of affection for Pavarotti and a gutsy dislike for Mr. Breslin.
A work inspired by bitterness and best avoided.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Abert TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Who are managers?
Exacting and domineering beings that unscrupulously rip off their artists.
This exists in multitude in the entertainment as well as artistic sector, but Breslin's book savours much more of the former taste and style than the latter, unfortunately.
Lucky unable to learn an operatic part easily? Who tells you learning operatic parts are pieces of cake?
To learn about the art-commercial relationship, this book is a good reference.
Otherwise, for real musical fans, this book can be safely disregarded as it does not manage to present any useful view of what is opera, nor any meaningful account of how is opera produced, where did opera productions went wrong, and why operatic productions transited from its heyday to its present downfall. This is more particularly so since the days of the Breslin-Pav. collaboration occupies an era that was so very crucial to the modern day development of Western opera.
One cannot help but think, after reading it, that the modern day downfall of opera actually owed much to Breslin's collaboration with his 'King'.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By SALOON SINGER on October 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This would be a five-star review if it were not for a couple of revelations about the tenor which are the result of mean-spiritedness masquerading as honest intimacy. By contrast, Pavorotti's dignified response at the end of the book causes me to wonder if he read it thoroughly. Otherwise, the author is on solid ground in relating the basis for their mutually beneficial relationship and in his comparisons to Domingo who was also a client for a time.
Breslin presents Pavarotti as having the sweetest sounding voice with a
brightness of tone and an ability to phrase that were unmatched by anyone else in his time. Not surprisingly, his repetoire was full of Italian bel canto - the better to show off his attributes.
By comparison, Domingo had a much larger repetoire and facility in more languages and was simply much more ambitious. He was limited by not having a high C and in general lacked Pavarotti's brightness in the upper register. The one was a essentially an instinctive lyric tenor and the other was an intellectual, dramatic one.
What is most important is understanding that Breslin and Pavarotti could have such success because he could appeal to a much broader audience than Domingo due to the immediately assessible greatness of his voice. They could overlook his serious limitations as an actor.
By contrast, a casual listener would have difficulty understanding that Domingo worked harder and did more to reveal the many dramatic tenor roles as a premier actor. Domingo would wonder why don't they rise to their feet? Pavarotti would say, I will make them rise to their feet!
I found parellels in popular entertainment. Pavarotti's unique gift and lack of discipline remind me of Brando.
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