The press in the UK has been full of hype about Lorin Maazel's new opera 1984 (it even has its own web site) which is about to premiere at Covent Garden, and fellow music blogger Jessica Duchen has given it some space.
Covent Garden's poster for Maazel's new opera, 1984
I thought it was just me that was confused. Maazel a composer? Maazel an opera composer? Maazel deserving a new production at Covent Garden? Maazel, the guy that 'created' a rather dreadful thing called Ring Without Words which stitched all those bleeding cunks of Wagner together, and got rid of all those pesky voices that spoil the orchestral sounds, then recorded it for Telarc with the Berlin Philharmonic.
Maazel? The modest and humble composer whose web site's url is www.maestromaazel.com?
Then yesterday's Guardian explained it wasn't me. Maazel's opera 1984 is being produced at Covent Garden as a 'vanity' work. Maazel's own production company is picking up £400,000 of the total £900,000 cost. (I presume he also subsidised the Wagner potpourri in the same way?). Click this link for the full Guardian article.
The Guardian quotes a Covent Garden insider as describing the opera as 'crap' (although in fairness it hasn't premiered yet, so no reviews are available, and any comments are totally subjective). But that means half a million pounds of our money may be going into subsidising 'crap'. (The Covent Garden staging was to be a co-production with Tokyo Opera, but interestingly the Japanese pulled out).
If the opera does turn out to be 'crap' the musician with teeth, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is right to worry about the future of serious music.