Metropolitan Opera GM Joseph Volpe (who once fired a stagehand on Christmas Eve) was famously domineering and notoriously demanding. (A profile in The New York Times once discussed his screaming fits, described his staff as cowed and noted that even his closest allies found him difficult.) The words most frequently used to describe him? "Tough" and "decisive"...

Perhaps remarkably, someone once called Volpe a charmer. More remarkably still, Volpe complained. Why? Well, he explained, he didn't want anyone to ruin his reputation.

[Volpe made headlines around the world for summarily firing the renowned soprano (and notorious prima donna) Kathleen Battle in 1994 for her failure to attend rehearsals (for Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment) and other "unprofessional actions". (When the cast of the Donizetti opera heard she had been fired, they applauded.)]

[An unlikely impressario, Volpe, before joining the Met as an apprentice stagehand in 1964, opened and ran his own auto repair shop and helped to manufacture baseball pitching machines.]

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