The BBC news website has added fuel to the controversy whipped up by Slipped Disc over oil billionaire Gordon Getty’s $2 million gift to Welsh National Opera. The money was given on the understanding that WNO would stage an opera that Getty had composed. David Pountney, the WNO director, argues that he agreed to stage the Getty opera out of enthusiasm for its merits.
I have a high regard for Pountney’s enthusiasms. Pountney produced Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger at Bregenz and at English National Opera, where it was almost uniformly misunderstood by the London critics. I was one of a minority that acclaimed the work as minor masterpiece.
I have obviously not seen the new Getty opera because no-one has yet staged it. I can judge Getty as a composer only on the basis of his past work, which is wishy-washy to a fault. It may be that the former oil mogul had help with Usher House from hidden hands, in which case the score might sound better than expected. We can but wait and see. But I will not be rushing to Wales to see it.