Editorial, October: Verdi vs Wagner vs anniversaries

- 1 October 2013

I couldn’t make it to the recent Verdi vs Wagner debate hosted by Stephen Fry at the Royal Opera House as part of the Ignite Festival. Instead I was at an actual Verdi performance up the road at the Barbican &#8210 the LSO’s season opener, an unstaged Rigoletto under Gianandrea Noseda honed to razor-sharp perfection over ten nights at Aix-en-Provence.

So, is that me pinning my colours to the mast, a Verdian through and through? Not quite. In fact, as Gilda died and the excellent Dimitri Platanias’ Rigoletto gave vent to his despair, I couldn’t help thinking that, as dramatic and affecting as the scene is, it is no Liebestod. That said, I’m glad I don’t have to choose. The on-going debate, thrown into unnatural focus by the coincidence of the composers’ year of birth, has served much more as an opportunity to explore what we appreciate about their works than seriously figuring out who is ‘better’. The reassessing process brought on by a centenary here and a bicentenary there may seem over the top for composers as central to the canon as Verdi and Wagner but looks likely to have genuine and lasting impact for Britten, and hopefully Lutoslawski too (we catch up with the latter’s 100th birthday celebrations in our report in this issue).

We at Classical Music have been going through our own period of re-evaluation as we adjust to our monthly format, and you may have noticed the expanding section of comment, opinion, analysis and debate sandwiched between the news and features sections. We’re very keen to hear everyone’s side of the story so please do write in if you have any thoughts you would like share with others in the industry.

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