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Mounting a series of opera performances depends on monies available, with choice of singers based on everyone's abilities. In The Saint particularly, the impact on stage is governed by the length and breath of orchestral sound from the pit. 'That is why Menotti is very concerned about tempi and balance. He and I are very good friends and we get on with each other extremely well. If he falls out with a conductor, he has a hard time. Luckily that hasn't happened!'

But the music doesn't deserve its neglect, especially in England. 'No! Although there is good and bad music by every composer. I will tell you a story about The Consul. When we had recorded it, a Director from one of our London Opera Companies asked me for a copy, as it was a piece he liked very much. I was working there at the time, and after the production had finished I was invited to go and discuss our next project. There was the CD case open on his desk, and he told me that he couldn't stop playing it. He loved it! Of course I couldn't perform it here. Why not? You know, there is a terrible snobbery about Menotti's music in London.'

'And living in Scotland, it is a great shame that the Edinburgh Festival cannot honour him in his 90th year. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and we find that quite hard to accept.

I mentioned Birtwistle, Tavener and MacMillan. 'I think that things have opened up. If you say you like Tavener, you can also like Birtwistle without being sneered at as would happen ten years ago.'

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Copyright © 10 January 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, Middlesex, UK







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