Update: Trump’s first concert is dumbed down

Update: Trump’s first concert is dumbed down


norman lebrecht

May 17, 2017

On the assumption that Beethoven’s Fifth might be too heavy for the US President, the Filarmonica della Scala has changed next Friday’s programme to scoops of gelato .

Andrew Powell has sent us this rundown:

Puccini – Madama Butterfly: Act III Sunrise
Rossini – Overture to L’italiana in Algeri
Rossini – Overture to Guillaume Tell
Verdi – La traviata: Act I Prelude
Verdi – Overture to La forza del destino

UPDATE: We have received this clarification from the Filarmonica della Scala:

No modifications to the program have been made by Filarmonica della Scala. Even if we have a tour with Dvorák/Bruch – Beethoven program, from the beginning we decided to play in Taormina a full italian program. Italy host the summit and the concert is a “welcome” to all the other country with the most known Italian Opera Masterpieces.


  • Lydia Wahlberg says:

    With any luck he’ll behind bars.

    • Steve P says:

      Hillary first

      • Mikey says:

        If and when they should find anything she’s done that was illegal, sure.
        Meanwhile, Trump has committed multiple illegal acts, and treason.
        He actually DOES belong in jail.
        The only thing Hillary has done is be a woman, and people like you just can’t handle that.

        • Dennis Wheeler says:

          What absurd tripe. As with Obama, who the Left thought should be insulated from criticism on account of being black, the Left also seems to think Hilary should be insulated from criticism for being a woman. Criticize either and you must be a racist of misogynist. That’s the way the Left stifles all debate and criticism.

          The Clinton family, both Hilary and Bill – and especially their foundation slush-fund – have committed a litany of crimes for a quarter century and gotten away with it. That she wasn’t prosecuted recently for the email server scandal and her complicity in the deaths in Bengazi was purely politically motivated on behalf of a compliant Justice Department. And that’s just a couple of her most recent crimes while serving as Secretary of State.

          • NYMike says:

            “That she wasn’t prosecuted recently for the email server scandal and her complicity in the deaths in Bengazi was purely politically motivated on behalf of a compliant Justice Department. And that’s just a couple of her most recent crimes while serving as Secretary of State.”

            And you have proof of these “facts”??

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Her behaviour was unwise and incompetent but not illegal.

        • Steve P says:

          If and when blah blah blah. Billary protected by deep state and MSM. Trump – blithering idiot that he is – has done nothing illegal or treasonous.

          • John says:

            I’ll await while your greater wisdom is shown to prevail (haha)

          • Peter says:

            It’s sick fun, to see the American sheeple go at each other like this. they really think there is a major difference between plutocratic candidate A who is assigned to the left shop window to sell to one group, and candidate B who sells his stuff to another group through the right window.
            Same shop, sales men all vetted by the shop owners, the plutocratic elite.
            But holy buddha are these sheep serious about going at each other which shop window is the real deal.
            Them top plutocrats have designed that totalitarian system very well. The dialectics of manipulating the stupid. Give the stupid something to fight over with themselves, and they will leave you alone.

    • Bruce says:

      He won’t be impeached. The party in power would have to have the will to do it, and they have already made it clear that there is nothing he could do that would motivate them to remove or impeach him.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        There is no reason to assume that the Republicans will control one or both houses after 2018. That said, it will take a lot of luck to see this most incompetent president leave office before 2020.

      • Sue says:

        I think Pence would be a good leader. Pot him into the top job and this will ensure stability.

        • Bruce says:

          My problem with Pence is that he has an agenda that is unfriendly to people like me, and if he becomes president he won’t have to worry about keeping the puppet happy while he manages things behind the scenes.

          On the other hand, he’d probably be less likely to blab security secrets or use military academy commencement ceremonies as a platform to whine about his unfair treatment.

        • Mario Denis says:

          Oh no, not him, that would mean the end of the Gay wedding planning industry….

  • Olassus says:

    Scoops of gelato indeed, but a generous scoop of oltralpino snobbery here too.

    • Muti Mutti says:

      Good Point.
      Saying Forza or Traviata are “scoops of gelato” is condescending and flatly incorrect.

  • Joseph Shelby says:

    Dumbed down, or simply made more ‘Italian’? I admit it is somewhat lightweight Italian (some Respighi would have been a stronger addition than these overtures, but I’d never expect anybody to look to put Berio in front of him).

    That said, it has been observed by us on our side of the pond that Trump simply, literally, has no culture. At all. No music, no poetry, no philosophy, no aesthetics, nothing. Even his idea of going “outdoors” is limited to the golf course – Nature tamed into a child playground that can do no harm, but provides no beauty.

    So it really doesn’t matter what they play. He’ll still be sitting there fidgeting the whole time, waiting for the moment he can whip out his phone and get back on Twitter.

    • Bruce says:

      ^ Or just get on his phone and start tweeting during the concert. I have seen no indication that he has good enough manners to stay off his phone, let alone sit quietly for a whole hour-plus and pretend to enjoy something that bores him. (I say that because it’s not a celebration of him, which is the only thing that seems to hold his interest for more than a few minutes)

  • David Boxwell says:

    The Short Attention Span Symphony Presents: “The Most Beautiful Eyetalian Opera Music, Without the Horrible Singing.”

    SAD! (But in a good way).

  • anon says:

    What happened to Sol Gabetta – did she have any say in this? She did not want to play for Trump, or did they just dump the Dvorak concerto without her input?

  • Folke Nauta says:

    Who the **** wants to play for this so-called president?

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Rossini, I see. Maybe the Trump is trying to seduce and entrap Macron.

    • Bruce says:

      I hope Macron has studied the video of Trump’s handshake with Trudeau, so if they meet he doesn’t get yanked around.

  • Ceasar says:

    what a pitiful program. he’ll probably leave after william tell anyway only to miss the encore of “that’s amore”…

  • TravelingHippo says:

    I really hate when politics enters the music world. Surprise, surprise the leader of our country is a musical idiot. What else is new? Do you really think Obama could tell the difference between Mozart and Brahms? Hey, Nixon was a pretty good pianist. No comment on Bill’s saxophone playing. Can we just discuss music or musical politics, but refrain from falling into senseless talk radio babble?

    • Sam says:

      I totally agree. Slippedisc has totally dumbed down commenting on politics every chance they can. Time to get a new editor and concentrate on God’s music.

    • Bruce says:

      I agree, sort of, but really can’t begrudge NL his increased click count.

      If something doesn’t interest me, I don’t read it.

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      Since art never exists in complete isolation from history, politics, religion, and other aspects of the wider culture, I don’t see why this blog should avoid its forays into the field of politics. If people had been blogging about classical music in earlier decades and centuries I’d have expected them to have covered state intervention in music (and other art forms) in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union or during the Cultural Revolution in China. I’d have expected them to comment on the role of music in the struggles of the various peoples of central and eastern Europe against their oppression under Germany, Austria/Austria-Hungary, and Russia during the 19th and early 20th centuries. I’d also have expected them to comment on acts of protest by Eastern Bloc composers, such as by setting religious texts in defiance of state atheism.

      A lot of people do think that music should be about the music and the music alone. It is not, however, that simple. I love Wagner and, especially, Strauss, and yet I can also understand that for some Jewish people (and perhaps others affected by the Nazi atrocities) it does not feel possible for them to listen to the music of composers so closely connected (fairly or otherwise) with the regime. Valery Gergiev and Valentina Lisitsa have become controversial figures, not because of their musicianship, but because of their politics. For many people a musician is not just a musician, but a person whose actions and beliefs are also significant. When a friend of mine learned that Philip Pickett was now a convicted rapist he said that he wouldn’t ever be able to listen to The Bones of All Men again. Robert King has also been boycotted by some following his convictions for child sexual abuse offences.

      In this instance, music clearly serves a diplomatic purpose. The choice of the venue, the performers, and the programme will all have been carefully considered. Was the original choice of Beethoven supposed to flatter Germany? Was the choice of a concerto composed in the USA by a Czech composer and performed by an Argentine soloist intended to encourage a global perspective and international co-operation? Perhaps one reason for the all-Italian programme is not just that it panders to one man’s allegedly short attention span, but that it gives the Italian hosts an opportunity to showcase some of the finest of its cultural achievements. Given Russia’s suspension from the G8, the inclusion of a Russian work would have conveyed a particularly interesting message (it does not escape me that Sol Gabetta is of partly Russian background). Given Russia’s history of intervention in what is now the Czech Republic, perhaps the inclusion of the Dvořák was intended to strike a note of defiance (though a Finnish or Baltic work would probably have been more effective). Personally, I think that the fact that the G7 summit is being covered on a classical music blog is a worthwhile reminder of the importance of music in the world.

  • Alexander says:

    some of my favs in the programme … as for gelato, I’ve heard there is a small gelato popbar in NYC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyUrZWjX7bY
    after that you,Norman, never say you are not stuck with Trump 😉

  • Alexander Davidson says:

    Has it actually been confirmed anywhere that the change of programme is solely (if at all) for President Trump’s benefit? I have to admit that I’d much rather hear Beethoven 5 and the Dvořák cello concerto, but the new programme is perfectly good music, albeit packaged in an easy listening format.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Maybe my decades old fantasy will come true: there will be a ruckus in the audience, in response to which the orchestra will start playing the William Tell ouverture.

  • Peter says:

    Pinkerton – the stereotypical American immoral coward, suits him. subtle.

  • Helen Wynn says:

    And what wonderful classical music did Obama ever sit through?

  • Nurhan Arman says:

    Verdi’s La traviata Act I Prelude may still be too much for him. He’ll either fall asleep or tweet about his “bigly” portion of tiramisu. He may also wonder why his “great friend” Pavarotti is not singing.

  • Peter says:

    Trump twitters:
    “Italian opera, so weak, no national pride. Hearing symph concert right now in Sicily in Spain with Italian music. Small theater. Only stories that take place in other countries or are about foreigners. Sad!”

  • Alexander Davidson says:

    What happened to the intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana? I guess the Teatro Antico di Taormina doesn’t have an organ, but then nor do most opera houses.

  • musicologyman says:

    The Orange one does not strike me as a.person who has the patience to listen to slow pieces of music: I’m sure he’ll find the first and third sections of the Guillaume Tell overture excruciating, and the prelude to Traviata will be almost unbearable.

  • herrera says:

    Breaking News: Secret White House tape leaked.

    “Trump: Why are Putin and Travolta there?

    Priebus: Puccini and Traviata, Sir. La Traviata is an opera, about a Parisian whore.

    Trump: Ohhh, is there a golden shower scene? Will there be a Pussy Riot?

    Priebus: Different country, Mr. President.”

  • Edgar says:

    Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung” would be most appropriate. But The Witless Manchild would certainly get bored before the Norns’ rope comes apart… The piece should be given on the steps of Capitol Hill. The one in DC, not Rome.