I've received advance copies of the Met's CDs and DVDs honoring James Levine. The first item I put on was the 1979 telecast of Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, with Teresa Stratas as Jenny and Astrid Varnay as the widow Begbick. In this production, which was directed by John Dexter, Varnay gave her final run of performances with the company, thirty-eight years after her electrifying stage debut, in Die Walküre. The great soprano talked about Mahagonny in her delightful and perceptive memoir, Fifty-five Years in Five Acts, which appeared in 2000. Much of her account is dominated by her dislike of Dexter, whom she refers to as "Foulmouth." She has much kinder words for Levine, whom she describes as "ultra-professional." One anecdote is very funny. Lotte Lenya was observing the rehearsals, and at one point she began berating Levine for conducting "O moon of Alabama" at too slow a tempo. Varnay relates: "Jimmy looked nonchalantly up at the stage and quietly said, 'Those hookers are very tired.'"