08. February 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Quotes

Bohème is one of the most skillfully orchestrated scores we have. The use of the Glockenspiel or the chimes, not to mention the more conventional instruments, is precisely related to the happenings on stage. Even the big drum—the bane of Italian opera—is here used with restraint. It is rather an oddity that Puccini is not given due credit for being the master of orchestral writing that he is. The simple fact is that toward the end of the 19th century such men as Tchaikovsky and Strauss evolved a formula for orchestration which they used more or less unchanged under all circumstances: doublings in the strings with the horns in the middle, or certain other set relationships. A very good sound, to be sure, but tending to a certain sameness. With Puccini each score presents a different tonal quality and colouration—Bohème is different from Butterfly, as Butterfly is different from Tosca. To be sure, there are family traits, but the texture and detail in each are very much related to the specific kind of subject with which he is dealing.

-Sir Thomas Beecham
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