2011.10.18 Tales from the Stave, BBC Radio 4 programme
Tales from the Stave
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.