Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spare a Thought for the Poor Librettist

How many people listen to the early hit songs of Elton John and think ‘wow, Bernie Taupin had a great way with words’?

How many people watch an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and knowingly admire the poetry of Tim Rice?

And the neglect of the poor librettist is not confined to the modern day. How many Mozart arias and duets can the opera buff sing along to...yet give not a moment’s thought to Lorenzo Da Ponte, who wrote the lyrics to The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte?

Of course, there are numerous other examples of misplaced admiration. The musician gets the praise, but it is often the poet who has stimulated the ideas in the first instance.

So next time you admire a song (of whatever genre), do spare a thought for the neglected poet.

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