It was great to hear nice things being said about the Cultural Olympiad on Radio 4 a few minutes ago. But I was quite taken aback by a comment from Michael Berkeley. While broadly supportive of the whole initiative, Berkeley felt that it hadn't been started soon enough, his example being that two and a half years wasn't anywhere near long enough to commission a full length opera from a young British composer.
Really? I'm just back from seeing Bellini's wonderful La Sonnambula, for which the time from Bellini starting to write the music and the première was 63 days (give or take a few). Now it's fair to say that La Sonnambula isn't the most sophisticated piece of orchestration ever written, but it is a vocal masterpiece and one that has endured very nicely. And Bellini didn't have the benefit of nice tools like Sibelius to get the music into a printable score within moments of completion.
Maybe I'm out to lunch here, and I'd love to hear from any opera composers who have opinions on this, but methinks the Michael doth protest too much...
4th November 2011