Opera: Sermons and Satan

The library shelves, opera lovers like to think, are stuffed with forgotten masterpieces. They need only to be kissed into life by princely producers, displayed on the operatic stage, and their somnolent glimmer will instantly flame into theatrical brilliance. Alas, when such pieces are actually performed, they often seem rather dusty. Admirers argue weakly and the public packs the first performances. Then everybody goes home, resolved to save money for future investment in another round of Traviatas and Bohèmes.

Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele may be an exception. Toscanini admired it. Great bassos love...

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