Menotti, The Last Savage, N. Gedda, R. Peters, T. Stratas, Metropolitan Opera, T. Schippers (live recording, 1964)
Brian Holt, Rumble in the Jungle (Out West Arts, July 28)
James M. Keller, Santa Fe Opera salvages 'Savage' (Santa Fe New Mexican, July 24)
Barry Singer, Salvaging the Savaged (Opera News, May 2011)
The idea of encountering the un-encountered, a tribe that has not had contact with other humans, is still seductive, enough to be able to fool people. The Romantic notion of the "noble savage" comes in for more satirical treatment here by Menotti, as Kitty, the daughter of millionaire parents, is duped into believing that an Indian man, planted in her path after being paid a large sum of money to act like a savage, is the actual last savage she has been hoping to find. Along the way, modern notions of art and civilization, including contemporary forms of art and music, are ridiculed as being incomprehensible to this simple man. At the heart of the work, and in many ways of the scathing criticism of it, is Menotti's avoidance of atonal musical ideas in his score. It may be an overlarge set of ideas on which to hang a comic opera. Maybe not, though: the late critical giant Alan Rich fondly remembered himself as "the man who liked Gian Carlo Menotti's The Last Savage," a judgment seized on by some "to establish my perversion." He defended his review by saying that "its musical faults were apparent, but that the work was thoroughly enjoyable in its own simple-minded way."