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Subject: Menotti: The Consul . . . and other works (was Re: Turandot)
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Sat, 11 Nov 2017 13:01:12 -0500

text/plain (65 lines)

semiramide1945  wrote:  

"You know haven't we done this Turandot thing to death. Maybe time for another subject?'

Here's a bold idea:  How about contributing something to the list other than a complaint?  

Okay, I'll start:

The Menotti (a dirty word it seems these days) opera "The Consul" has recently been 
produced on both sides of The Atlantic.  Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theatre 
sharing a joint production starring Patricia Racette that's received mostly great reviews 
(Racette's Magda Sorel walking away with high praise), while The Guildhall School in 
London's production production finds nice notices for its cast while taking every opportunity 
to damn Menotti's score as garbage.

The Guardian's Andrew Clements mincing no words wrote:  

"A talented team do their best to breathe life into Menotti’s clumsy opera with its B-movie 
score . . . The Guildhall School’s revival of The Consul was therefore a rare chance to 
discover – almost 70 years after it was composed – what this music offers. The answer . . . 
is not very much at all . . . with its clunky dramaturgy, flagrant rip-offs of Puccini, Strauss, 
Britten and Richard Rodgers, and B-movie orchestral effects There wasn’t much that 
conductor Timothy Redmond could do with the portentous orchestral writing . . . everyone 
did a valiant job, and now deserves to get back to singing some decent opera."

Meanwhile, the American production was getting notices such as this:

"The Consul is not a perfect piece, with the dramatic action, bleak scenario and fantasy 
sequences often failing to cohere. Yet the score is one of Menotti’s finest achievements; the 
music always serves the dramatic narrative and reaches thrilling heights with Magda’s 
soaring Act 2 aria 'To this we’ve come' . . ."

I know, Signore Menotti doesn't have a great many fans on this list, but I find, time-and-
again, his music - not just his operas, but ballet scores, songs, orchestral and chamber 
music, while not Mahler or Strauss, still never fail to move me.  

I remember discovering his 1951 3 movement orchestral work "Apocalypse" and falling 
quite in love with it, particularly the second movement "La citta celeste" which, has a lovely 
Bach-like chorale prelude-like feeling to it.  Here is that movement :

His Piano Concerto (from 1945) is my favorite of all of his non operatic works.  For those 
who like me who love reading scores, this incomparable recording by Earl Wilde shows it 
(the orchestral parts in piano reduction) in "real time."  This always makes me smile, and 
that's always a good thing!

I'll behave now. . . 


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