The evergreen fascino of Enoch Arden

The evergreen fascino of Enoch Arden Stefano Greco and Tommaso Ragno at S.Cecilia ,Rome
Enoch Arden in Rome still weaves its magic ……..
An entire evening dedicated to Enoch Arden on the occasion of the presentation of a series of paintings by Paolo Giorgi inspired by that great poem of Alfred Lord Tennyson.
A poem that in 1864 sold 70000 copies in only four months and inspired Richard Strauss to compose perhaps the greatest of all Melologos in 1897.
With the voice of Tommaso Ragno and the piano of Stefano Greco we were treated to a performance in the free italian translation of that great man of culture Prof Bruno Cagli.
A standing ovation from one President to another for the rare presence these days of Bruno Cagli,President of Santa Cecilia for 22 years bringing it to world attention taking it into its magnificent new halls designed by Renzo Piano with a historic Orchestra re born under Sir Antonio Pappano.
Michele dall’Ongaro will have his work cut out to follow in such illustrious footsteps.
But as ex director of the Italian Television’s prime culture channel: Rai 5 and a notable composer in his own right he has all the cards possible to bring the greatest performances to a discerning public.
And tonight as Master of Ceremonies he was able to introduce us in his inimitable way to the world of the Melologo.
Passing the microphone to Prof Cesare Scarton,author of the only Italian book on this genre of music theatre.
He was given just ten minutes to give a brief history of this now almost obsolete form of dramatic declamation.
A brilliant and fortunately with the Presidents stop watch ticking away,brief,resume’ of which from Rousseau in 1712 to Schonberg in 1951 has included such composers as Mozart,Schubert,Schumann,Liszt,Wagner,Grieg and of course Richard Strauss.
So seemingly all the cards in order for an enjoyably instructive evening amongst friends.
It is at this point that I was reminded of the story that Paul Tortelier loved to recount about Georges Enescu.
Enescu had asked some friends to listen to one of his violin students in concert and this is what they recounted:
The man playing the piano ,Enescu (renowned mentor of Yehudi Menuhin) should have been playing the violin .
The page turner Alfred Cortot should have been playing the piano
and the prize student should have considered himself lucky to turn pages.
In Torteliers inimitable way of story telling it was unforgettable.
It passed through my mind tonight as we had some beautiful modern paintings that depicted a mermaid type waif in front of a sinking Concordia and seemingly nothing to do with the world of Tennyson’s Enoch;
A magnificent reciter hidden behind two music stands with a radio microphone attached to him which made it rather difficult to declame dramatically as was intended ;
a truly remarkable pianist in front of a magnificent Fabrini Steinway with its voice muted by it being almost totally closed.
An unfair match indeed was to be played out.
But then the magic of Enoch Arden mysteriously filled this rather austerely modern Spazio Risonanze and all the seeming incongruities were forgotten and forgiven in a performance that held the audience riveted from the first waves on the piano to the death of Enoch forty minutes later.
We even looked at those pictures with the eyes of a painter who had been so inspired by this recount that he had overheard one day on the radio

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