Never call anyone Maestra


It’s a sleazy sex thriller by an Oxford historian, being marketed as the new 50 Shades. It has nothing to do with music, except that the author was once married to an Italian composer.

You really don’t want to address anyone by its title.

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  • It’s getting a bit irritating to read that she is “an Oxford historian”. To my mind, “Oxford historian” suggests somebody who holds an academic position within the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford. Lisa Hilton is a historian who has an Oxford BA in English Language and Literature, which does not seem to me to be quite the same thing. “Oxford-educated historian” would seem to be a more accurate description.

  • Maestra is most definitely not a music book, although Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21 and the Requiem do accompany two crucial moments. The ‘Maestra’ reference is primarily to Artemisia Gentileschi, whose painting ‘Judith slaying Holofernes’ has an important role in the book, and after whom its main character is named.

    Hilton’s more direct music connection is as librettist of Love Hurts, a one-act opera composed by Nicola Moro. It is set in 1814 in the lunatic asylum where the Marquis de Sade was incarcerated, and depicts him and fellow inmates staging the trial of Gilles de Rais, the historic archetype for the Bluebeard legend. It will receive its first performances at the Piccolo Teatro, Milan, on 25 June, and at Symphony Space, New York, on 28 October.

    PS. I should declare an interest, as the music director for these performances.

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