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2011.10.18 Tales from the Stave, BBC Radio 4 programme

Tales from the Stave

Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 18 October 2011 at 13:30 GMT

Click here for transcription

Returning for a seventh season, crime writer Frances Fyfield once again leads off her series exploring the tales and tribulations revealed in the hand-written music manuscripts of some of the greatest works of classical music.

The opening programme of the series takes us to Paris where a beautifully crafted wooden box made in London in the mid 19th century houses Mozart’s handwritten score of ‘Don Giovanni’.

The Mozart expert and renowned conductor Jane Glover and arguably the world’s finest living singer of the title role, Simon Keenlyside join Frances at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France as guests of their head of music manuscripts Elisabeth Giuliani.

How the score came to be in Paris after a spell in London, what secrets it reveals of Mozart’s rush to complete it for a premiere in Prague and why one of the boldest lines in his entire operatic output should have been crossed out with a clear intent for it to be put back as soon as the censor’s back was turned, will be revealed.

It’s also a chance to be astonished by the sheer detail of Mozart’s musical invention, his professionalism as he adapts the odd line or the shaping of a phrase to fit the singers he was writing for, and blotches and coffee stains which give a vivid sense of the speed at which he was working.

All that plus the story of Giovanni’s ruthless seductions, hell-raising lifestyle and some of the most celebrated music ever composed for the operatic stage – in Tales from the Stave.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marilyn Meeker October 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

For any of you who have not yet listened to this all-too-brief (only 30 minutes, when it could have easily been 2 hours!) program, it is still available to listen to . . . . What a marvelous program! You could feel Simon’s and Jane Glover’s excitement as they discovered the tiniest details in the manuscript! The story of the manuscript being offered to Vienna, Berlin and London–and all of those libraries TURNING IT DOWN!!! Anyway, please do try to hear this before it disappears! WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL!!!

Jane October 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

What a treat! Looking forward to hearing this next week. It sounds really interesting…I want to go to the Bibliotheque Nationale de France now and see that manuscript for myself.

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