As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.
– Bizet, letter to Edmond Galabert, 1866
Musical ideas sprang to my mind like a flight of butterflies, and all I had to do was to stretch out my hand to catch them.
– Gounod, speaking of his period in Provence, 1863, quoted in J Harding, Gounod (1973)
My humiliating profession of decomposer of music.
Gounod, speaking of the demands for changes to his opera, Mireille, quoted in J Harding, Gounod (1973)
You were the beginning of my life as an artist. I sprang from you, You are the cause and I am the consequence.
– Georges Bizet, letter to Gounod, 1872
Massenet feels it as a Frenchman, with powder and minuets. I shall feel it as an Italian, with desperate passion.
– Puccini, quoted in M Carner, Puccini (1974)
Shostakovich: What do you think of Puccini?
Britten: I think his operas are dreadful.
Shostakovich: No, Ben, you are wrong. He wrote marvellous operas, but dreadful music.
– Quoted in Lord Harewood, The Tongs and the Bones (1981)
Give me a laundry list and I will set it to music.
– Rossini, attributed
The point is… a person feels good listening to Rossini. All you feel like listening to Beethoven is going out and invading Poland. Ode to Joy indeed. The man didn’t even have a sense of humor. I tell you… there is more of the Sublime in the snare-drum part of the La Gazza Ladra than in the whole Ninth Symphony.
– Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)
The artist must yield himself to his own inspiration… I should compose with utter confidence a subject that set my musical blood going, even though it were condemned by all other artists as anti-musical.
– Giuseppe Verdi, letter, 1854
Stupid criticism and still more stupid praise.
– Giuseppe Verdi, speaking of the press notices of Aida
Opera is music drama.
– Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Opera is when a guy gets stabbed and instead of bleeding, he sings.
– Ed Gardner (1905-63)