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T HE British West Indies, in. the person of Mr. D?uglas Forrest, 95, East Street, Kmgston, JamalCa, wm the H.M.V. or Columbia Album for our competition announced in the February number with the ideal gramophone cast of Verdi's opera La Traviata. The cast as established by popular vote was as follows :
TH E BARON
Giuseppe de Luca
. .. Alexander Kipnis
THE CHORUS OF LA SCALA, MILAN THE ORCHESTRA OF LA SCALA, MILAN CONDUCTOH Arturo Toscanini Out of the twelve Mr. Forrest managed to select ten, his only difference from the majority being that he cast Lucrezia Bori for Annina and Miguel Fleta for Gaston .
After Rosa Ponselle for Violetta, Galli-Curci secured the largest number of votes, and Lucrezia Bori a third. The only other tenor to make any sort of show with GigJi for' the part of Alfredo was Tito Schipa. De Luca's popularity [or Germont was equally unmistakable, only Stracciari and Inghilleri securing more than a vote or two. The largest number of entries came from Malta, where people have had as good an opportunit.y as anywhere of getting to know Italian opera at first-hand. I am not aware whether the repertory is as extensive now as i t used to be, and perhaps one of our Malta correspondents will enlighten us on t.his point. I should l ike to know how many operas of Donizetti's hold the stage there, and if Bellini is often played.
Reading through the competition papers of La Traviata set m e thinking of that opera in relation to the music of Stravinsky and of what I was saying last month about the efTect of removing all taboos on art. The removal of such taboos on art is largely due to the greater social fre edom achieved by the advance of modern thought. vVe should be careful, however, to di s t inguish between the genuine tolerance which comes from extended knowledge and the cultivat.ion of the gentler side of humanity and, what so much of our modern tolerance is, mere laziness or indifference. Take the theme of Trar.;iata, which is the self-sacrifice of a courtesan in order to promote the happiness of her lover's family life. This theme with variations is the same as Trilby, as The S econd Mrs. Tanqueray and perhaps a hundred other novels and dramas of the 19th century. The difficulty of reconciling the claims of love with the various other claims that can be made upon man or woman is obviously a fertile field for art. Equally, the more deeply respected the marriage bond, the greater the opportunity fOI' the artist. to invent new tunes for the eternal triangle. When society begins to eriticize the conventions i t has established at an earlier stage of i ts development, and when from such criticism i t proceeds to adopt the point of view that other people's love affairs are their own business , the bottom is so completely knocked out of the story-teller's world that he must search for a new formula. In the world of to-day a story like La Dame Aux Camelias appears ridiculous, and consequently the music which perfectly suited i ts emotion appears equally ridiculous. Violetta by her manner of life has cut herself off from the society of respectable women , or let us say of outwardly respectable women. She ha s left the monde and entered the demi-monde. Nowadays the demi-monde no longel' exists, and the life of a woman l ike Violetta is indist inguishable from the life led by many young women who never run the slightest risk of being cast out of Society on account of the late hours they keep in the company of men or of their habit of drinking champagne in night clubs. To begin with, there is hardly anv Society left from which they could be cut off, and if there w~re any Society left, i t would feel, provided the young woman were not t iresome, that her morals were her own affair. The levelling down of all social distinction s which we admire as democratic progress is accompanied by an equally definite levelling down of all moral distinctions. There is still a faint prejudice against walking th e streets for a livelihood, but i t is the same kind of prejudice which exists against the profession of the pavement-artist or t.he street-musician. It is not a moral prejudice so much as a feeling of contempt sweetened by pity, not for those who have failed to be good , hut for those who have failed to make good .