3 Pages


This chapter presents a letter written by E. M. Forster to the Times. Auden, Harsent, and Forster were willing to collaborate in a form traditionally characterized by the demeaned role of the librettist. The librettists recognized in their role the potential to exert a distinctly literary influence which has yet to be consistently acknowledged. Moreover, British opera tends to assert its respectability in terms of its literary and intellectual integrity. Opera traditionally demands text that allows for musical expression, rather than text that embodies musical expression. Ironically, it is Auden, the one writer who speaks so emphatically of ceding creative authority to the composer, who poses the greatest threat to the creative independence of that composer. Modern British opera demands by its literary emphasis a revaluation of the aesthetic criteria by which it is commonly assessed. These operas were written in a cultural climate that witnessed the increasing involvement of literary figures in the criticism, creation, and representation of music.