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                         The Santa Fe Opera
                        
     An American Pioneer


    Previous production reviews of Menotti's The Last Savage

    2010-11-18

    A few critical highlights from past productions:

    The Washington Post (June, 1981)
    "A witty satire on today's civilization and society is at the core of Menotti's story and music. It is hard to see how this production would be anything but a smash hit. The text, largely in rhyming couplets, takes aim on the pomposities of what is called "culture" by the snobbish elements in the arts, but does it with wit and grand humor. More important, the music is some of the most sophisticated and ingenious in the entire Menotti repertoire. It's arrangement of display areas of all kinds and their intermingling with ensembles from duets to septets often reminds listeners of The Magic Flute, a parallel that is heightened by the setting.

    Nowhere else has Menotti explored the wide range of choral and orchestral writing that is heard in much of The Last Savage. A stunning fugue is skillfully worked into the score with such ingenuity that it would never disturb those who might think a fugue an intellectual hazard–shades of Wagner and Verdi! The last-act septet is of surpassing beauty, reminiscent of the septet in Berlioz's Trojans." 

    The Houston Post (May, 1981)
    "...a vindication of everything composer Menotti has stood for in his career. The score is a compendium of 19th century Italian operatic styles, from the Mozartean grace of Domenico Cimarosa at the beginning of the century to the Puccinian lyricism of Francesco Cilea at the end of the century. These traditions are all so superbly homogenized that one might think Menotti had tossed opera scores by half a dozen different 19th century Italian composers into a blender when he wrote the piece.

    His special talent is that of writing vocal melody that lies beautifully on the singers' vocal cords and the listener's ears. The Last Savage is also the work of a master orchestrator and a dramatist who knows just how to wink away an excess of maudlin-sentiment with a touch of light satire."

    Honolulu Star Bulletin (February, 1973)
    "The audience left at the conclusion of the work, happy, smiling, and humming the melodies. That's what opera is all about, that's what is should be. Menotti is the Donizetti of today–a master of bubbly, supremely melodious music that the audience perks up on first hearing and which keeps running around in one's head, becoming more obsessive with repeated exposure to it. Savage is packed solid with wonderful, memorable music. But Menotti has even more than the mantle of Donizetti and of other composers of both bel canto and opera buffs. There is a dash of Moliere, Fellini and Hitchcock in him as well. Besides great music, Savage also has engrossing theater, humor, biting social satire, suspense and a public, yet intimate introspection."

    The Philadelphia Enquirer  (June, 1981)
    "This opera is one of Menotti's most clever. Composed for the Paris Opera, it was staged instead at the Opera Comique, for this work holds a wavy mirror up to all of life and all of music."

    The Hartsville Messenger (June 1981)
    "If the creation of the Spoleto Festival itself is a triumph for founder Gian Carlo Menotti, then it comes without a doubt that his opera The Last Savage is an artistic treasure for all time. The brilliant work is unified in a triangle of love, a romantic tale with as many highs, lows and midpoints of emotional confusion as one human imagination could fantastically experience."  

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