Saturday, April 26, 2008

Buona serra (sp?)

Last night at the Volksoper Stefan Mikisch performed an introduction to Rossini’s ‘Barber of Seville’. I know and love the piece, and don’t need an introduction, but will do almost anything to hear it.

Mikisch apparently is famous for his introductions to Wagner’s operas in Bayreuth, and people flock to them. Here the opera house was also almost sold out. But I really must take my hearing aid when someone talks from the stage….

Anyway, it was quite interesting. Whereas I had thought that Rossini was behind his times (what with the recitatives and his strong rhythms, kind of baroque wrapped in classical harmonies) Mikisch suggested he was ahead of his time in terms of writing catchy tunes, which people, even on hearing them for the first time, think they know. He even pointed out some similarities between Rossini and Verdi, and Rossini and Wagner in the use of harmonies (is Wagner spinning in his grave?).

When he was talking Mikisch seemed extraordinarily nervous – to such a degree that it set me on edge, too – his legs were going under the piano like the clappers – might have been easier for him to walk the talk.

The piano playing of the transcriptions was quite good, but only quite good. He played mostly the right notes, but did not always bring out the right parts, and it lacked emotion and fun. Far from setting the heather alight. I left at the interval. But at least it set me up for dealing with the Italians in the hotel left after my return, who I said a nice ‘buona serra’ to – and the tune is still in my head at 8 in the morning….