<< -- 4 -- Bill Newman MAESTRO
Wilfrid Mellers in Music in a New Found Land writes 'Though
the pieces live, at all, because they are "good theatre", they
are theatrical in both the positive sense (given the premises, the dramatic
argument is logical and gripping) and also in the negative sense (the premises
are contrived). The music, almost consistently, is part of the contrivance.
It "effectively" brings Puccini brought up to date, while depriving
him of the lyrical panache and harmonic punch that justified his theatricality
...' (Polite amusement from Menotti.)
Olin Downes, however, states '... Whether Mr Menotti is utilizing ideas
of his own, or idioms which he has absorbed from Puccini, Ravel, Rimsky-Korsakov
and other composers, we have here the quality of opera. It is dramatic music,
emphatic in actions as well as feeling, and in essence song, which is what
opera must be. No other American composer has shown the inborn talent that
Mr Menotti, Italian by descent, unquestionably possesses for the lyric theatre.'
Who is more correct?
'Now, first of all there are two things that are not true in what
Mr Downes says. I am not an American composer, I am an Italian! I was an
American for one day, because when they gave me the Kennedy honours - whatever
they call it - which is only for Americans, I had to write to the White
House to say I could not receive it. So Reagan wrote me to say he still
wanted me to receive it, and would I accept to be American for one day -
you know, just to receive my prize! Second thing: I don't think my
music has much to do with Puccini.' Harmonically, in the orchestra,
it's totally different. 'Harmonic, yes, but it has more to
do with Schubert in the simplicity of the melodies, Rimsky-Korsakov and
Mussorgsky in dramatic qualities. Those three.'
Copyright © 29 August 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
MENOTTI AT SPOLETO
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