Cher Public

Mavra, don’t ask!

And then she was all like, “Nuh-uh! Igor was so not gay,” and I was all like… [New York Times]

  • This is a happy day for me -- an article by ZW I enjoyed from start to finish. The TLS is my favorite periodical, but their coverage of music (and politics) is consistently below the standard set elsewhere in the paper. Craft’s “inaccuracies” have been a known issue for decades. Nice, too, to see the meticulous Tamara Levitz quoted so extensively.

    There are nude photographs of Stravinsky out there -- he was not a prude -- but the ones I have seen are more “auch kleine Dinge” than “boogie nights”.

    • Krunoslav

      If true/provable, Craft’s allegation push Ravel out of the piously-recited “no known sexual relations” category, usually cited by those who would prefer me not to have sexual relations with other men.

      • Well, Craft isn’t the person you’d want to rely on for the naming of names. Ravel was quite secretive about his personal life -- one needn’t be a homophobe to believe that a lot of information on this subject is simply lost to history.

        • Often admonished

          Igor asked to be buried very near Diaghilev. We can speculate about the reason.

          • Sure, anyone can speculate. My speculation, mostly uninformed by really precise knowledge of the details of Stravinsky’s burial, is that Soviet Russia was not an option for the devout Stravinsky. But into late age he continued to feel some of the pangs of the exile. Who better to exemplify the transplanted “soul” of Russia than Diaghilev? If Stravinsky couldn’t be buried in Russia, perhaps burial near Diaghilev was the next best thing. (Also, Stravinsky liked Venice, so that narrowed down the choice of burial-mates.)

          • oedipe

            Stravinsky liked Venice, so that narrowed down the choice of burial-mates.

            Not to mention the extreme scarcity of burial space on San Michele!

  • Amnerees

    Christopher Isherwood was close friends with Stravinsky and his wife during Stravinsky’s last years, and his accounts of his meetings with the composer in his enclyopedic diaries reveal that Stravinsky was very affectionate with his friends, even a bit kissypoo. He certainly was with Balanchine, who was anything but gay. Maybe it’s just an old-fashioned Russian thing (and a nice one). Isherwood was remarkaby discrete about his celebrity friends.(He mentions a long lunch at his house with Tony Perkins and clearly implies that Perkins was having problems with being gay, but he is VERY careful about how he states this.) The problem with relying on Isherwood’s diaries for any information about anyone he knew is that he was remarkably self-absorbed. It’s all about him. However, a scholar with extensive knowledge of Stravinsky’s life might find some revelatory information on the equally self-absorbed composer.

  • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

    Maybe for his next book Mr. Croft will investigate the possibility that Igor gave Benjamin Britten syphilis?

  • armerjacquino

    That photoshop is hilarious. Maybe another candidate for Netrebkisation?

    • antikitschychick

      now that you bring her up:

      Here’s an idea: rather than give us heavily photoshopped pictures, how about they (DG) let her do her own cover art? It would be nice to get to see how she sees herself rather than how a bunch of marketing execs and suits do. Also, I must admit that the level of artistic talent she has is really quite noteworthy. What other prominent divas do we know of that can act, sing and draw?? Inquiring minds want to know :-P

      • benrenki

        What other prominent divas do we know of that can act, sing and draw??

        Simon Keenlyside (with the appropriate vowel substitution).

  • Camille

    Aside from what Joan Acocella has to say about the the Ballets Russes being “a furnace of gossip” and the fact that there were indeed many witnesses of the era who later wrote their memories, what I am now wondering is what Richard Taruskin may have to say in this matter…?

    For that matter, what about the “affair” he had with Gabrielle Chanel, the movie of which came out about three or four years ago, and which I kept missing?

    Mr. Craft is 89 years old now and has had ample time for the “right time” to come about to reveal this latest news and it is therefore really hard to take a lot of which he writes as the gospel he intends it, even while it does make for entertaining reading. There is a letter to the editor of The New York Review of Books in which he strongly contests the review of the then new biography of Stravinsky written by Stephen Walsh. To give you an idea, first the review by Michael Kimmelman and then Robert Craft’s response:


    All of which is neither here nor there, pursuant to the current topic of Stravinsky’s sexual liaisons, but it does give off the aroma that ONLY Robert Craft has seen the tablets from Mount Sinai, and no other!

    Also, there is the problem of translation and of time and place: the manner in which human beings corresponded with and to one another in those times we now consider flowery and effete and the letter which included being “in the arms of that horrible fiend Diaghilev” is probably translated from French, non?

    In conclusion, there is a ballet already written on this topic, entitled Who Cares?.

    NOT, to be sure, by Père Igor, but sure lots of fun, as was his funny little opera Mavra, which I had the happy occasion of seeing, last December, in a student production at Hunter College.

    Too bad Charles Rosen is no longer with is, but Taruskin is, and it is now m. croche’s responsibility to get him to offer up his pronouncement.

    • Camille

      Oops, italics attack.

    • If one were a Kremlinologist, one might speculate that Taruskin’s absence from ZW’s piece suggests that he himself plans to write on the subject. That’s just a guess. Or maybe he is just sick and tired of dealing with Craft.

      • Camille

        We are depending on you, croche.
        You’re Our Man in the Kremlin, as it were!

    • Camille

      And, last thought: if Robert Craft were to be more forthcoming on his own personal story vis-à-vis the Stravinsky menage of which he became a part within a breathtakingly short period of their initial meeting, well then, maybe I could put a bit more credence to his utterances.

      And if, in Proustian Paris, an outsider decides to have a career enhancing affair of the same sex, what is so remarakable about that? Other than we may now look at The Rite of Spring from yet another level of understanding? Or maybe how we may or may not come to understand it has nothing to do with anyone’s sexual proxlivities and inclinations at all?

    • ianw2

      I found the movie pretty dull. Nice to look at however. Basically two quite nasty pieces of work having an affair.

      • Camille

        Unsurprising, that!
        Thanks for saving me the time and effort.

  • ianw2

    I love how in the article Levitz doesn’t bother hiding her contempt for Craft.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    “International opera superstar Joyce DiDonato (profiled here on Bilerico; see #4) announced today that she is dedicating her performance tonight in Rossini’s La donna del lago to the memory of gay New Mexico teen bullying victim Carlos Vigil and his family.”