La Cieca has to say she is just plain appalled at the turn of events in the Opera Barga / Motezuma fracas. Not that she’s any particular fan of Vivaldi opera, but the behavior of the officials at the Berlin Sing-Akademie (who claim copyright ownership of this 270-year-old opera) strikes her as unartistic and just plain nasty. The Sing-Akademie basically stumbled over a manuscript containing something over half the opera. They then published the Motezuma torso online, which under German law apparently grants them a 25-year copyright.
Well, the law is the law, even when the law is an ass, and I suppose that given the 21stt century’s Gollumesque attitude toward intellectual property, there’s no way the piece is going to revert to where it intuitively would seem to belong, i.e., the public domain.
But here’s my problem. The Sing-Akademie have already demonstrated that they have no problem with allowing performances — after all, they authorized the premiere of Motezuma in Rotterdam last month. Their beef is that Opera Barga (and the Duesseldorfâ€™s Altstadtherbst Festival) won’t pony up 10,000 Euros in royalties. So, alas, it all comes down to money — and, more to the point, who can afford better lawyers. Actually performing a rediscoverd work, it seems, counts for nothing: ownership of the thought is all.