Fifty years ago today, on 3 October 1968, Tullio Serafin died in Rome.
In a long career he conducted singers from Caruso to Pavarotti. He was born near Venice in 1878, but when he was 11 the family moved to Milan where he eventually played viola at La Scala under the baton of Arturo Toscanini, and he was still in his teens when he conducted his first opera, L’elisir d’amore.
The numbers are impressive: 683 performances at the Met and 243 different operas were in his repertory from Bellini to Britten, but ‘discovering’ Maria Callas was one of his most noted accomplishments, and she remained indebted to him through her lifetime. She said,
What [Tullio Serafin] said that impressed me was: “When one wants to find a gesture, when you want to find how to act on stage, all you have to do is listen to the music. The composer has already seen to that.” If you take the trouble to really listen with your soul and with your ears — and I say soul and ears because the mind must work, but not too much also — you will find every gesture there. And it is all true, you know.
Andrea Castello from the Tullio Serafin Archive, Barbara Frittoli who is the Ambassador of the archive, together with the music critic Enrico Stinchelli, will today talk about the great Maestro in the La Scala foyer at 6pm.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.