Cher Public

Sticks and stones

Here’s a story in which practically nobody in authority comes off well. Daniel Harding conducts a concert at La Scala that includes a selection from Tristan und Isolde, about which the Corriere della Sera‘s venerable critic Paolo Isotta snipes “Harding’s conducting was so soft it made you think he wanted to back the unfounded theory that Wagner was homosexual.” So then La Scala’s GM Stéphane Lissner kicks Isotta off the press list for the company: he can still review Scala events but will have to pay for his own ticket. [The Telegraph]

  • Harding’s concert was one of the extremely small number of EXCELLENT concerts that the La Scala orchestra has offered over these years. Although his current Falstaff is rather dull and cannot compare to the quality acheived in Pagliacci/Cavalleria, Harding still is the one with whom the capricious Scala orchestra plays best. He knows how to manipulate the technical shortcomings of the orchestra.
    As for Lissner, I guess that unfortunately it was not this vulgar reference to a “homosexual Wagner” in particular, but rather the general fact that Isotta permitted himself to heavily criticize anything and anyone, which conditionned Lissner’s tastless and quasi-dictatorial decision. He isn’t really fond of dissenting voices…

    • itrinkkeinwein

      @Giuditta: there is nothing “vulgar” about the idea of a gay Wagner, any more than there is something “soft (morbido)” about being gay.

      Isotta’s gratuitous spin makes no sense in relation either to Harding’s (soft) Wagner or to music in general. Does he conjure an “eterosessuale Schubert” when listening to “An Sylvia”?

      Rightly barred by Lissner, he must be processing his homophobia, prodded perhaps by Italy’s current election focus on gay rights. Not long ago he found the love triangle of Bizet’s “Les pêcheurs de perles” to be “in chiave omosessuale”:

      A review of Milan press privileges is overdue. Why should Opera Chic and other bloggers have to buy their own tickets when “legitimate” critics write so stupidly?

      • The reference is vulgar insofar as it is homophobic AND gratuitous. That’s what I meant.

        • itrinkkeinwein

          Va bene. Bersani for prime minister?

          • Frankly, I had to google up that name, because, not being Italian (in contrast to the majority of my colleague bloggers) I can’t care less about Italian politics. And I don’t see the relevance of the question for this topic either.

          • oedipe

            I agree:

            Not being Russian, I don’t give a damn what happens in Russia. Not being Chinese, I don’t give a sh*t what happens in China. Not being British, I don’t give a rat’s ass what happens in Britain; soon it will be out of the EU, anyway; and let’s not even mention the Commonwealth… And let’s face it, why should I give a f*ck what happens in America: prejudice, ignorance, violence, poverty, etc., it’s no skin off MY teeth!

          • Well, that still doesn’t change anything about my lack of competence in matters of Italian politics.I’m deeply sorry.

          • redbear

            Not to worry. At the Bondy Tosca, the Met audiences and critics missed the obvious Scarpia reference to Berlusconi despite the large map labeled “ITALY” above his head and the plethora of whores.

    • Camille

      Egregia ed augusta Sig.ra Pasta!

      Thanks for reminding me of Il Corriere della Grisi. It has been too long now that I have visited your site.

      Could you possibly divulge any of your methods for getting first Donizetti and then caro Vinnie, to write such spectacular roles as Anna Bolena and Norma for you? How did you inspire them? Was the hospitality at your Lago di Como villa so extraordinary that it gave their writing that extra ounce of inspiration to surpass themselves? Is it true your daughter Cleta was engaged to Vinnie at one point? Is it true about Malibran and Vinnie’s purported entanglement? Is it true that Vinnie felt Beatrice di Tenda ‘non indegna delle sue sorelle’????????!

      These are the issues I’d wish you to expound upon. Leave that silly critic be.

      Your admiring fan—

      P.S. please restrain la Grisi from seeing the play “Golden Age” as I feel she would find her characterisation therein very unflattering.

      • Rusalka

        Brava, Camille!

  • Will

    Maybe he thinks because his name translates as Isolde he has proprietary rights to legislate how the music should be played.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      • Ilka Saro

        Yes, La Regina Isotta does come to mind.

  • jatm2063

    And is all of Wagner supposed to be played in a deafeningly loud fasion? I think not. Some of the most exquisitely beautiful moments (and the most emotionally moving) are the quiet moments. Stupid critic.

    Oedipe: The phrase is “no skin off my ASS.” Not that I am being nitpicky! I like people who tell it the way it is. :-)

  • operaassport

    I think Harding is a terrible conductor. Truly superficial. But what the hell does that quote about soft, Wagner, and homosexuality mean? It’s a bizarre and offensive comment. That critic should be sacked.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      He’s not completely terrible, the farther they keep him from operas -- the better.

    • itrinkkeinwein

      It’s a bizarre and offensive thought:

      Gay = Soft

      Imagine if the critic in the most prominent position in America had made this statement in 2013, and then been defended publicly by his editor.

      This is Italy today.

      • operaassport

        For me, gay = hard :)

  • cosmodimontevergine

    As has been noted Paolo Isotta is a friend of Riccardo Muti’s and since the latter’s break with La Scala Isotta rarely misses an opportunity to be nasty.

    • PushedUpMezzo

      Isotta being the Italian form of Isolde, I suppose he has got to have a bit of a fiery temperament. Well done La Scala. The international coverage will be very helpful too.