Opera – The Wagnerian Aftermath – Part 2

Modern Italy discloses a single dominant and vivid figure. In none of his compatriots is there any distinction of speech, of character. In that country the memory of Wagner is less imperious in its control; yet not one of its living music-makers, with the exception that I have made, has that atmosphere and quality of his own which there is no mistaking.

I have referred by implication and reservation to three personalities in the art of the modern lyric-drama who stand out as salient figures from the confused and amorphous background against which they are to be observed: who seem to me to represent the on’ y significant and important manifestations of the creative spirit it which have thus far come to the surface in the post-Wagnerin music-drama. They are, it need scarcely be said, Puccini in Italy, Richard Strauss in Germany, and Debussy in France. Yet these men built upon the foundations is laid by Wagner; they took many leaves from his vast book of instructions, in some cases stopping short of the full reach of his plans as imagined by himself, in other cases carrying his schemes to a point of development are beyond any result of which he dreamed. But they ,have not at-tempted to say the things which they had to say in the way that he would have said them. They have been content with their own eloquence; and it has not betrayed them. No one is writing music for the stage which has the profile, the saliency, the vitality, the personal flavour, which distinguish the productions of these men. So far as it is possible to discern from the present vantage-ground, the future—at least the immediate future— of the lyric stage is theirs. In no other quarters may one observe any manifestations that are not either negligible by reason of their own quality, with or without adulterous admixtures, of the Wagner in brew.