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February 8, 2005 by AK

Riccardo Muti‘s opinions:

“Even in Italy, when people want to end an evening in a very happy, brilliant way, they all sing the brindisi [drinking song] of La Traviata, with the glasses in the hand and laughing and smiling; but they forget the most important element – that that brindisi is a brindisi of death. It is not full of joy; it is a premonition of what will happen. It is tragico; this woman is desperate and she tries through that brindisi to ignore the illness, the pain. That is the way it should be done. It’s not full of sun; it’s full of tears…”

Yes indeed; this very song was one of the first numbers Soviet television used to transmit after the twelfth strike of the clock on New Year night — champaign in footed tumblers, confetti and all.

When he conducted Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, he was ticked off by a critic for programming such a boring piece. “Some of the greatest pages of music ever written,” says Muti. “A boring piece! For me, this was like a knife in my heart.”

Indeed, a critic who dares to call The Seven Last Words nothing but “a boring piece” deserves to have his driver’s license revoked for life, there being, regrettably, no critic’s licenses out there.

Link credits: A.C. Douglas.


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