The book, titled The Toughest Show on Earth: My Rise and Reign at the Metropolitan Opera, will be released by Knopf on May 2.
According to the publisher, Volpe writes with "stunning candor" about "the general managers he worked under, including Rudolf Bing and Anthony Bliss; his own embattled rise to the top; the maneuverings of the blue-chip board; his bad-cop, good-cop collaboration with the conductor James Levine; and his masterful approach to making a family of such highly charged artist-stars as Luciano Pavarotti, Plšcido Domingo, Teresa Stratas, and Ren_e Fleming, and such visionary directors as Franco Zeffirelli, Robert Wilson, and Julie Taymor."
Three weeks ago, the book was part of the headline-making story of Erika Sunnegardh, the former waitress who made her Met debut in a nationally broadcast performance of Fidelio. According to press reports, Sunnegardh is prominently mentioned in the book, with Volpe writing, "Not since Rosa Ponselle's debut in 1918, opposite Caruso in La forza del destino, has the Met given an unknown singer such an opportunity."
Volpe, the Met's 16th general manager, has served in the post since 1990; only Rudolf Bing and Giulio Gatti-Casazza have had longer tenures. He is also the first person to rise to the top job from within the organization, having served as apprentice carpenter, master carpenter, technical director, and assistant manager for operations over a 42-year career.
He is known as a demanding and powerful executive who has dealt unflinchingly with the world's most prominent singers. Perhaps his most talked-about episode came in 1994, when he fired the famously difficult soprano Kathleen Battle, citing her "unprofessional actions."
Peter Gelb, most recently the president of Sony Classical, will replace him on August 1.