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Subject: Re: "Eugene Onegin" question
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Wed, 17 Jan 2018 10:53:59 -0500
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While you may prefer Tchaikovsky – and many do – that in no way 
dismisses Massenet’s greatness.  Comparing them is, at least to my an 
exercise in futility.  Neither composer had the gifts, temperament or style 
of the other.  It’s not dissimilar to comparing Bach to Mozart and deciding 
one is better than the other – it’s purely a subjective thing.   I’d take Bach
over Mozart every time, but the preference is purely mine, and I’m glad to 
be well acquainted with both.  

“Maid of Orleans” really is (in my estimation) one of Tchaikovsky’s greatest 
operatic scores and it’s sad that, owing mostly to a libretto that’s a bit 
unwieldy, it is so seldom heard.  There are many operas filled with 
magnificent music that suffer from fate of a poor libretto that still get 
revived, and I’m hoping “Maid” eventually makes it into that category.  Just 
the mention of his Sixth Symphony gives me gooseflesh.  

For many Massenet is an acquired taste but he presents us with more 
musical meat and muscle than he’s often given credit for and I groan 
whenever I read how his operas are “too heavily perfumed.”  As a boy 
hearing “Werther” for the first time I declared him “The French Puccini,” 
and I still feel that way.  There are any number of works I’d like to see 
revived, and certain ones, like “Le jongleur de Notre-Dame” have been too 
noticeably missing from the Met or other company’s who specialize 
in “spectacle.”  I am thrilled The Met is finally getting around to 
mounting “Cendrillon” which tends to be a hit wherever she goes.  I still 
hold fond memories of the Frederica von Stade in Henry Bardon’s beautiful 
production for Washington later brought (by Beverly Sills) to the New York 
City Opera for Faith Esham.  The NYCO revival made it into Time Magazine 
as it was the first opera in the U.S. to feature “surtitles” or “supertitles” 
which now are everywhere.

I’m happy to be alive in a time where, no matter how remote we may feel, 
we’re able enjoy everything from Hildegard von Bingen to Harrison 
Birtwistle, all within arms reach. 

p.

* * * * *

Mr. Kane wrote:  

“The time comes, after decades of enjoying music, when one is allowed to 
sit back and draw conclusions. I've heard my share of Massenet operas, 
and was often impressed by a scene here, an aria there:  Beverley Sills 
seductive Manon "live'; Gigli's melting Werther, and the sweeping duet 
from THAIS, with Kirsten and Merrill on disc; Joan Sutherland resuscitating 
a forgotten, unrevivable ESCLARMONDE; but it adds up to very little 
compared with the melodic wealth that poured from Tshaikowsky's pen, no matter what form he was drawn to. This can't be dismissed as an example of musical sweet tooth;  those tunes are meaningful..  Tschaikowsky painted, Massenet did
coloring books.

There was once a fully staged performance of MAID OF ORLEANS at the Met in Lincoln Center, from a visiting company; it was enthralling.  But the truth is this; few operatic or concert experiences have ever given me the deep,
satisfaction of a performance 
matter what form he was drawn to. This can't be dismissed as an example of m
of musical sweet tooth;  those tunes are meaningful..  Tschaikowsky pain
painted, Massenet did
coloring books.

There was once a fully staged performance of MAID OF ORLEANS at the M
Met in Lincoln Center, from a visiting company; it was enthralling.  But the t
truth is this; few operatic or concert experiences have ever given me the d
deep,
satisfaction of a performance - at home or abroad - of the "Pathetique" 
Symphony.  No theatrics, no stage needed, just the purity of music that 
goes as far as music can go.”

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