Item 62 - Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

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Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan


  • Feb 1932 (Creation)

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39 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh. - Thinks M.B. [Mona Benson] needs a 'good blowing up' [for wanting to resign as producer of "The Bride of Dionysus" but he does not know 'the right psychological moment' and is afraid of his temper. [Stewart] Deas does not think there is much in her resignation, nor that things are going badly. There is a gap in floor rehearsals this week: thinks Trevelyan should write Mona Benson a 'pretty stiff letter' pointing out that 'a definite resignation leaves everyone in the soup', while a postponement [of the opera] is totally impractical, and that a 'merely temperamental resignation' is no way to behave. Does not feel he can argue with her again, as 'like Queen Anne or James II' she listens patiently, agrees, then 'reaffirms her original position'. The [Edinburgh Opera] Company continue to send Tovey singers for coaching, who are getting on as well as before. Has been to several floor rehearsals in which both he and Deas thought Mona Benson was 'doing admirably' and was liked by everyone; she needs to understand that these panics are not approved of; they cannot as things stand afford to lose 'even her unofficial advice'. Sees that the 'irregularities' of the company are very annoying for her, but his experience of Edinburgh has taught him to expect nothing else. The worst that may happen is that Tovey might have to take on the job of producer himself; thinks he could ensure that Trevelyan's and Mona Benson's ideas were carried out, though could not 'teach gesture or illustrate movement', or think out groupings without expert guidance, but perhaps someone else could be enlisted to work on the movements of the Satyrs and Maenads. Mona Benson is 'perfectly reasonable' with Tovey, and vice versa, but he thinks 'her education has evidently not qualified her to be reasonable with people who have less'. Wants to retain her if he can. Asks to be remembered to [Laurence] Binyon.

A note at the top of the front page instructs Trevelyan to read the postscript first. Sir Hugh Allen has just telephoned from London, offering to send up his producer [Jack] Gordon or call Mona Benson to London to meet him. Tovey told him that things might 'simmer down' with the lack of floor rehearsal, that he would put Trevelyan in touch with Allen, and that due to another project of Allen's, originally enclosed, this proposal is 'by no means as extravagant as it is generous & helpful'. Mona Benson is obviously 'too jumpy' to do without 'some stiffening'; apologises for not sending the enclosed letter from Allen before, and suggests that now they are 'in the soup in any case'' it seems a good idea to get Gordon up with Trevelyan to form an opinion; thinks Gordon will be 'very favourably impressed' with the Company's work both for the immediate and for Allen's RCM [Royal College of Music] project in London.

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