Ste,-Why on earth your admirable contributor, "Jotter," should
think his liking for opera indicative of a "vulgar taste" utterly passes the comprehension of a musician, I
say musician advisedly, for I am quite aware that the musically semiliterate per darn i d'aria think to show the height of their taste by sneering at opera, poor mutts, instead of stripping the last poor figleaf off their disgraceful ignorance and stupidity by doing so. The greatest masterpieces of Donizzetti, Bellini, Rossini, Verdi, Gluck, Mozart, Wagner, Puccini, Strauss, Debussy, that is to say the masterworks of all the greatest masters of music of all times, were written for the opera house. And he, "Jotter," is quite right to want to hear applause (provided of course that the performance deserves it) at the end of the arias, concerted numbers, and so on. The classical Italian opera was deliberately designed so as to give the audience opportunity to voice its approval (or not, as the case may have been), hence the formal division into set arias, duets, trios, and so on. Audiences. who, in this country know very little and understand even less about opera, sometimes appear to think that what is correct deportment for the Wagnerian music-drama is equally so for the Italian opera, the classical Italian opera. They are quite wrong. The vast musical fabric woven in one single piece was Wagner's tremendous innovation in operatic practice, and has ineluctably influenced all operatic composition since his time, in Italy, the fountainhead of opera, as everywhere else.
I thoroughly agree with "Jotter" and remember with many a nostalgic "frisson" the immense thrill of those opening, and many other, nights of the season, at which it has been my privilege to be present in such fabulous opera houses as La Scala, the Teatro Reale, San Carlo and the Massimo-theatres so vast and splendid as to make Covent Garden seem like some poor little makeshift corrugated sardine-tin church beside the magnificepce of San Giovanni in Laterno, San Paolo fuori or il Gesis To those who have seen and heard opera in such settings as these, performanres elsewhere always seem somehow so very ersazt, so makebelieve, with something of the flavour of tinned fruit about them. Now tinned fruit can be very, very good, but will anyone dare to say it's like the real live thing? And opera in Italy is the real live thing even when, as often happens. the performers are not of the first order.
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorahji.
Rowbarrow, Corfe Castle, Dorset.