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<<  -- 4 --  Bill Newman    MAESTRO


Menotti's eternal quest for learning goes on. 'There is so much music I still don't know, and even music which I do know where I will always discover something new. You mentioned Puccini, whom I admire. The way he writes recitativos - which is the terminology - that are melodic. But they are not arias, although they have the shape of an aria. He was the only composer to write an opera in La Bohème, because he never succeeded so well in the others. The first note, actually you can sing it, the line and phrase, and he never holds up the story. Even where it stops for the arias, they still form part of the action. Wagner tried it, not always with success, Mussorgsky tried it. But for Puccini, this was a great achievement, as the action is always part of the melodic flow.' I sensed this in 'Goya'. ' I tried! But I will tell you the story about Stravinsky, who went to The Consul. He wanted to see me: "I heard your opéra ... very interesting. But it's not an opera!" Then what is it? "Ah, opéra is Bellini, Donizetti, Mozart. Your opera is too much recitura, and that's not opera". Well, what about Pelléas et Mélisande? "Ah, that's recitativo, and it's" - he uttered an Italian word - "shitty". I was shocked. I didn't believe what he was saying. But what about Boris Godunov? "Ah, that's boring, too"

Gian Carlo Menotti. Photo (c) 2000 Bill Newman

'Then I became very angry: "Maitre, I admire you very much, but you like to shock me as you shock other people, also." I knew he was such a poseur. Then it came time for dinner. "Let's not talk about opera anymore, let's go and eat something". Then he stopped, and said "Wait a minute, Mr Menotti, you may be right! Last night I went to hear an opera - very interesting; it has recitativos, most interesting. It was called er ... er ... La BOHEME". Yes, I knew of it, and had heard it, I said, but for Stravinsky it was as if he had just discovered the most exotic opera in the whole world!'


Copyright © 5 September 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK





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