Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Fascist Anthem?

This is the most stupid article I have ever seen, in which Puccini's Nessun Dorma from Turandot is called "fascist anthem"! Turandot is one of my favorite operas. When I was in graduate school researching the fate of the last Romanovs, Turandot's grandeur and tragedy was one of the few pieces of music capable of capturing the full scope of the misery of the downfall and death of the Tsar and his family. I listened to it constantly in my grandmother's flat where I was staying, so that Grandma was concerned that the neighbors might be annoyed.

Many years later, when writing Madame Royale, Turandot played over and over again in the background, for the cold, deeply wounded, Chinese princess of the opera was not unlike Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, haunted by the past and unable to move beyond it. Opera is a bit like the Latin Mass; you do not have to understand every single word in order to be swept up into it.

But now I see Turandot labelled as "fascist." How ridiculous. Puccini died in 1924. He was an artist; he was not a political person. When Mussolini first came to power he courted Puccini by making him a senator but there is no strong evidence that Puccini was ever a member of the fascist party. Turandot was his last opera and it is about so many other things than politics. It is about the power of love. It is about self-sacrifice. That is probably why Trump loves it. That is certainly why I love it. People who try to politicize such magnificent music just make themselves seem silly. Share

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