In his refreshingly candid new book, Leading Tones (Amadeus Press), the leading US conductor has a go at inaccurate reporting on the the New York Times.
After an unhappy La Traviata at the Met in March 2010, Anthony Tommasini, the Times chief music critic, irritated the conductor by reporting: ‘The problem was that the conductor Leonard Slatkin, appearing at the Met for the first time in 12 years, showed up at rehearsals not fully knowing the score. You did not have to believe the reports that spread on opera chat lines to know this. Mr Slatkin conceded as much on his personal Web site, leonardslatkin.com.’
Slatkin says he conceded nothing of the sort. He now responds: ‘Opera chat lines? Tommasini had admittedly relied on anonymous bloggers for some of his information, not the best idea. Both he and the blogger got the facts wrong. I knew the score intimately and could have conducted it from memory. And nowhere on my blog did I say, or mean to imply, that I did not know the score.’
Unfortunately Slatkin’s current website does not go back as far as 2010. Slatkin alleges collusion between certain writers on the Times and a colourful opera blogger. He may not be far wrong.
Read the book. There are several more correctives to received media wisdom.