The other day when I was writing about the SSO tour scrapbook I kept something back.
This particular clipping with its conductor caricature wasn’t simply interesting in itself, but held the serendipitous solution to a little mystery that’s been bugging me for years. A decade actually.
When I was working at Symphony Australia, the librarian unearthed an oddity in a set of parts. It was unsigned and unlabelled, and since none of my older-and-wiser colleagues were able to identify it, I kept a scan in case of, well… the wholly unanticipated possibility that one day I’d be able to work it out.
The front is ordinary enough – a loose horn part for an aria from Rigoletto.
Side two got interesting…
The scrapbook clipping suggests it’s very likely if not completely certain that this “Questa o quella” caricature was by the multi-talented Napier Dunn (1938–2005) – he ended up trading orchestras for newspaper cartooning in his native South Africa. He also made music cartoons in a slightly Hoffnung-esque mode.
But who’s the conductor? And the tenor?
This is still uncertain, although the identity of the artist helps narrow things down. Dunn played in the SSO for 14 months during a period that included late 1967 – let’s make a window of 1966 to 1968. According to the historical records, the SSO doesn’t appear to have performed this aria during that time. But before that Dunn played with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and here, at least, there is a possible performance from 1965. That would make the conductor Rudolf Pekárek and the tenor “Sidney Paterson” (or “Sidney Patterson” perhaps).
Of course, it’s possible that this particular aria wasn’t on the program at all, and that the music was simply on the stand as part of a set. That makes the historical performance records less helpful and would require going through an imaginatively assembled list of possibilities, beginning with other arias from Rigoletto – not something I have time to do.
Meanwhile, feel free to chip in with other possible artists active in Australia during the late 1960s.