Relayed from The QUEEN'S HALL, LONDON
(Sole Lessees, Messrs. Chappell and Co., Ltd.)
ARTHUR DE GREEF
THE B.B.C. SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
(Principal First Violin, CHARLES WOODHOUSE )
Conducted by SIR HENRY WOOD
THE PEARL FISHERS was an early, but by no means the first, opera by Bizet, who began composing works for the stage at the age of sixteen and, what is more, getting them performed. This opera was put on in Paris in 1863—twelve years before Carmen—and in London under the name of Leila in 1887. The story is one of passion, incendiarism, and sacrifice supposed to take place in pie-historic Ceylon. But the book is much like any other operatic libretto of the period, and Ceylon was chosen only as a peg on which Bizet and the scene-painter could hang their oriental fancy dress.
THE plot of Falla's short opera La Vida Breve
(Life is short) is so slight as to be scarcely more than an incident, yet musically and in length it belongs to the same genre as Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Salud, a Spanish gypsy girl, has been thrown over by her lover. Paco, who is marrying another. She brusts into the courtyard where the wedding guests are dancing and falls dead at her faithless lover's feet.
La Vida Brere was written when Falla was still in Spain. a young man under thirty, and he took the score with him to Paris as an introduction to musical circles there. Yet it was not performed till some eight years after that. It was given first at Nice in 1913, then in Paris, and a year after in Madrid. Our own knowledge of Falla dates from after the war. and we have yet to hear this opera on the London stage.
HE is tormented by no passions,'
Romain Rolland has said of Saint-Saëns, ' and nothing disturbs the lucidity of his mind. At. times his music seems to carry us back to Mendelssohn, to Spontini, to the school of Gluck. Ho brings into the of our present restlessness something of the sweetness and clarity of past periods, something that seems like fragments of a vanished world.'
THIS is the aria sung by lago in the second act of the opera. Cassio, of whom he is making an unwitting tool in his devilish designs, has just left him. and lago's glance follows tho retreating figure with contempt. Left alone, ho comments on life as he sees it. His creed is
Mephistophelean in its melodramatic villainy : man is the sport of a ruthless God, he declares, human .nature is evil, and virtue is mere hypocrisy : from the cradle to the grave mankind is the plaything of a malignant fate, and beyond the grave is oblivion.
The libretto of Othello, by the poet-composer
Boito, is one of the most masterly of all opera books. It is condensed, but nevertheless true, Shakespeare. With sympathetic art Boito contrived to present Verdi with a version of the play itself and not an operatic travesty.