Headshot of La Cieca

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Constellation

Here, for the first time in 40 years, the CBS telecast of the April 21-22 gala honoring the retirement of Sir Rudolf Bing.

221 comments

  • WindyCityOperaman says:

    Speaking of Roberta, look what I found!

    She also touted Maxwell House and American Express in her time. BTW, how has she been feeling lately?

    I want to commend OperaTeen on learning about singers of the past. Years ago I knew a young man who was well-versed in post-WWII Italian divae and was knowledgeable about all the singers who debuted at the Lyric in the 1950s. By the same token an accompanist friend of mine had a pupil who didn’t know who Joan Sutherland was. Wow!

    • MontyNostry says:

      That comment about ignorance of Joanie reminds me of an article I read about the (serious) Australian-born composer Brett Dean. As far as I remember, he was writing his first opera, Bliss, premiered in 2010. He wanted to write a trio and needed some pointers on how best to do it, so someone suggested he take a listen to a forgettable little number from Rosenkavalier. Apparently he had never heard it.

      • wesherd says:

        Be that as it may (he WAS seen in a performance of Rosenkavalier in Berlin late in 2012), the trio in Bliss ended up being one of the highlights.
        And, as we know, Hab’ mir’s gelobt also inspired Britten to pen some of his most inspired music (the ladies quartet from Peter Grimes).
        AND, being THAT as it may, how should a contemporary composer busy with his own composition and promotion find time to investigate the (for many of us) standard operatic repertoire anyway?.
        All the best music has already been written (although Mr. Dean’s latest oeuvre about the last days of Socrates was very impressive), and I’m very happy to busy myself with what we already have.

        • m. croche says:

          All the best music has already been written

          How many people, over the centuries, have said exactly this? Some people even said this before Der Rosenkavalier had been written!

          • wesherd says:

            WE are not living before the time of Rosenkavalier!

          • MontyNostry says:

            I just think the Rosenkavalier Trio is a great piece of music (I’m not saying everything in the entire opera is great) that every musically literate person -- particularly a professional musician who is undertaking to **write** an opera -- should know, even if not intimately. It’s a bit like saying you don’t know the Moonlight Sonata.

          • m. croche says:

            I think you missed my point. Le me try again. People have been predicting the end of the world for a couple thousand years. Hasn’t happened yet.

            People have been saying “the best music has already been written” for hundreds of years as well. Older generations routinely look askance at the work of younger composers. So when I hear someone say “the best music has already been written”, I don’t feel like I’ve learned something about the actual state of music today. Instead, I’ve only learned something about the mindset of the person who writes that phrase.

      • ianw2 says:

        Before he become a full time composer he played viola in that little scratch band the Berlin Phil. I’m reasonably certain he’d come across some Strauss in his time, even if it wasn’t the Opera Greatest Hits. There isn’t a set curriculum for writing an opera (why stop at that trio? can one truly write a love duet without ample study of Pur ti miro?)

        • MontyNostry says:

          ianw2 -- I knew that Dean had been in the Berlin Phil. Even more reason for being surprised at his ignorance of the Trio (I can’t remember if Poppea came up in the article too).

          • ianw2 says:

            A lot of composers write viola music without spending time with the Hindemith sonatas (or harp pieces without settling down with some of the interminable Salzedo). I don’t really think the idea that a composer ‘ought’ to know certain repertoire before they attempt to join it is a strong one.

            As it turns out, a lot do, but even then if you compared their lists they’d probably be vastly different in content. To paint Dean as musically ignorant because he supposedly didn’t, off the top of his head, identify the Rosenkavalier trio seems a pretty cheap shot.

          • MontyNostry says:

            Anyway, I wasn’t saying there was a curriculum for writing opera, it’s just that it astonished me that he should never have heard one of opera’s greatest hits -- and a piece that always used to be a staple of the more cultured interviewees’ lists on middlebrow mainstay Desert Island Discs.
            And admitting to it in an interview!
            (I will refrain from coming out with any dodgy viola jokes, though.)

  • wesherd says:

    By the way Monty, Brett Dean is writing a Hamlet for Glyndebourne.

    • MontyNostry says:

      Do you think he’s ever listened to anything by Ambroise Thomas, then?

      • ianw2 says:

        Why on earth would anyone want to do that?

        • Belfagor says:

          Ambroise Thomas didn’t write Hamlet, he wrote Omelette…least that’s what it sounded like the only time I ever heard it sung (at ROH with Keenlyside and a fresher voiced Dessay)……and remember what Chabrier said

          ‘There are three types of music: Good music, bad music, and Amboise Thomas’s music’.

          Brett Dean will face competition from Franco Faccio (libretto by Boito no less), Thomas, and Humphrey Searle

        • ianw2 says:

          I owe an apology! For some reason I read ‘Hamlet’ as ‘Hansel und Gretel’ (no, I have absolutely no idea how either).

          So that does make Thomas a slightly more logical choice, if only for a What Not To Do With Hamlet. But Thomas’ Hamlet has about as much relationship to the play as Giulio has to Pliny the Elder, and there’s nothing in the music that other composers didn’t do so much better. I’m still convinced that the only reason Thomas did Hamlet was because he wanted to do Ophelia’s mad scene (admittedly, a lip-smackingly good temptation for many a composer) and had to figure out what to put around it.

          Brave move by Dean, I have to say. Bloody difficult play to set to music. Just for starters, what to do with ‘To be or not to be’?