Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Systems Analysis

Dear Dr. Gossett,

Please do not be offended by anything I am about to say. I am a natural systems analyst and try to tell people what is happening. Sometimes they don't want to know.

Your perspective is exactly what it should be. Scholarship must equal truth.

However, anyone knows that displacing Ballo to Boston is absurd and mentally puts it back. Oscar alone means this is not democratic America. Getting rid of the American setting is great. Arguing over the precise text is something you have to do, but for we ordinary people, redoing the supertitles is probably sufficient.

The dominance of the Wagner/Verdi context for opera is passing away, and being replaced by interest in earlier works such as Handel. People haven't stopped loving Verdi and Wagner, but there is an enthusiasm for earlier music that was not there before. Teachers who know how to teach the heavy technique are harder and harder to find, while coloratura in all voice types continues to strengthen. The pervasive presence of old recordings from the period of heavy repertoire makes the work of every young singer impossible. What hope is there that they could rival these old singers?

It is vital to emphasize (and I was most interested to read) the stylistic differences between Verdi and Rossini, and even between early and late Verdi. My feeling is that these differences will become more and more important with the passage of time. I am hoping for a continued revival of Rossini which would require greater knowledge and availability of the ornaments and the proper manner of executing them. Thus my interest in a critical edition aria collection.

The serious operas of Rossini are still virtually unknown. Renata Tebaldi didn't record them. There is wonderful opportunity for a singer to blaze a new trail, one that will sound fresh and exciting. My infatuation with Bartoli was due to the hope that she would do this, but she has chosen a completely different path, performing Handel instead of Rossini. At a magical moment in her career she topped anything I have ever heard in this repertoire.

The music of the past now seems different to us. Rossini isn't just weak Verdi any more, but begins to seem his own person, a person larger than a collection of comic gimmicks. My impression is that a lot of this change is due to you.

The landscape of opera will continue to evolve. My own obsession will continue to be the quality of new operas, a gigantic subject that I'm not sure I'm big enough to handle. But then who is? I'm not particularly thrilled by what other people are writing on this subject, so why not me?

Best wishes.

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