1 page. Quarto. On onionskin paper. Dated Hollywood, California, November 16, 1965. In English.
An important letter, in which Stravinsky discusses Ingmar Bergman's apparent refusal of an offer to direct a performance of his opera, The Rake's Progress. Stravinsky desperately asks Liebermann if he could persuade anyone else to do it.
"Naturally, I am deeply offended at Bergman's attitude but what is more important is that I am very concerned to save the performance of it that you had planned. Is there no chance that you could pursuade[!] [Walter] Felsenstein to do it... Even Helen Weigel-Bergman's staging was heavily Brechtian... Laurence Olivier... could do it."
Creased at folds; file holes to left margin; two small pieces of tape to upper margin of verso.
Together with a fine photograph of the composer in profile holding a cigarette, 170 x 188 mm.
The Rake's Progress, to a libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman after William Hogarth's series of paintings (1732-33), premiered in Venice at the Teatro La Fenice on September 11, 1951. "Despite some early disappointment with its retrospective manner" (Stravinsky had cited Mozart's late operas as sources of inspiration and style)... the Rake has become a stout repertory item, with more productions... than any other opera written after the death of Puccini." Richard Taruskin in Grove Music Online.
Notable productions include Fritz Reiner's with the Metropolitan Opera in 1953 and Ingmar Bergman's at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm in 1961, of which Stravinsky was especially fond. It is not clear whether the production discussed in the present letter ever came to fruition. Stravinsky's suggested replacements for Bergman (Walter Felsenstein, Helen Weigel - the second wife of Bertolt Brecht - and Sir Laurence Olivier) are certainly intriguing, and deserving of further research.
Swiss composer and opera manager Rolf Liebermann (1910-1999) was director of the Hamburg Staatsoper (from 1959-1973 and 1985-1988), which he made into one of the centers of modern music theater. During his tenure there, he commissioned 24 new operas, including Penderecki's The Devils and Henze's Der Prinz von Homberg. Item #23222
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