It has often been the case that the destruction wrought by wars, especially the Second World War, has been treated unevenly by composers. Theodor Adorno’s often quoted remark, from his essay Prisms, that “to write poetry after Auschwitz would be barbaric” – if widely misinterpreted – is limited by its scope and in a somewhat profound way composers have looked on the events of World War II in the same way.
Although this concert was devoted to a single composer, Ravel, I was initially a little surprised by how it had been programmed. Thematically, all the works had the essence of Spain running through them – but chronologically they didn’t logically follow on from each other.
Renaissance patronage was a phenomenon at once cultural, social, political and economic. Wealthy women played an important part in court culture and in religious and secular life. In particular, music, musical performances and publications offered a female ruler or aristocrat an important means of ‘self-fashioning’. Moreover, such women could exercise significant influence on the shaping of vernacular taste.
Leonel Power, Bittering, Roy Henry [‘Henry Roi’?], John Pyamour, John Plummer, John Trouluffe, Walter Lambe: such names are not likely to be well-known to audiences but alongside the more familiar John Dunstaple, they were members of the generation of Englishmen during the Middle Ages whose compositions were greatly admired by their fellow musicians on the continent.
“Diacono himself does not know what musical talent he possesses” – Mascagni
Manitoba Opera capped its season on a high note with its latest production
of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, sung in the key of
goofiness that has inspired even a certain “pesky wabbit,”
a.k.a. Bugs Bunny’s The Rabbit of Seville.
From Leonardo vs. Michelangelo to Picasso vs. Matisse; from Mozart vs. Salieri to Reich v. Glass: whether it’s Maria Callas vs. Renata Tebaldi or Herbert von Karajan vs. Wilhelm Furtw‰ngler, the history of culture is also a history of rivalries nurtured and reputations derided – more often by coteries and aficionados than by the artists themselves.
“Billy always attracted me, of course, the radiant young figure; I felt there was going to be quite an opportunity for writing nice dark music for Claggart; but I must admit that Vere, who has what seems to me the main moral problem of the whole work, round [him] the drama was going to centre.”
It is hard to imagine a more beautifully sung Cio-Cio-San than Elena Stikhina’s.