Why does Kubrick quote Rossini's THE THIEVING MAGPIE in ACO?

[One answer is because of its cinematic value; the role it plays in the 
film in setting a mood and/or commenting on the action. But here's 
another possibility, supplied by none other than Leonard Bernstein. The 
following excerpt is found in the transcription of Bernstein's famous 
1973 Norton Lectures on Poetry [Harvard Univ. Press: 1976], pp. 384-9.

(Bernstein's lectures are available on videotape, and are highly 
recommended. The numbers in brackets following some sentences refer to 
musical illustrations given by Bernstein.)

Bernstein is discussing how poetic and musical concepts can reflect each 
other in a higher-level metaphorical circle. Bernstein isn't discussing 
Kubrick, but composer Igor Stravinsky.]

           *           *          *          *          *

Wagner tried to create his metaphor [in TRISTAN AND ISOLDE], and 
succeeded, by introducing into that supreme circle particular semantic 
components from his poetry and his music, components that matched 
perfectly. The love-death idea in Isolde's words correspond almost 
magically with the equivalent idea in the music. When she says 
"Ertrinken, versinken", she does literally seem to be drowning, her 
voice is submerged in the sea of orchestral texture that surges around 
her. . . .

We . . . know what we mean by wellmatched components, and what can 
result when they unite. But what happens when ill-matched components 
meet in that circle [62]? What happens is Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky 
with all his musical incongruities: the modern with the primitive; 
tonality with wrong notes in it; one chord fighting another, rhythm 
against rhythm; the contradictions of asymmetry, of street vernacular 
dressed up in white tie and tails; classic forms filled with 
contemporary stylism, and classic styles in contemporary forms -- name a 
mismating: Stravinsky's written it. His works are an encyclopedia of 
misalliances. And what do these mismatched components produce? 
Indirection, obliquity, the indispensable mask of our century -- the 
objectified emotional statement delivered at a distance, from around the 
corner, and perceived, so to speak, second-hand. Second-hand? 
Stravinsky, that consummate original? Yes, second-hand; because the 
personal statement is made via quotes from the past, by alluding to the 
classics, by a limitless new eclecticism.

This is the essence of Stravinsky's neoclassicism: he is now the great 
eclectic, the Thieving Magpie, "La Gazza Ladra", unashamedly borrowing 
and stealing from every musical museum. And this quasi-plagiaristic 
principle supported his compositional style over three long decades, in 
one way or another. It can be as overt as in PULCINELLA, which is all 
based on actual pieces by Pergolesi, transformed by Stravinsky's 
personal modernisms. Or in LE BAISER DE LA FEE, where the same 
machinations are wrought upon Tchaikovsky's music. . . . Think of 
Stravinsky's two symphonies, the violin and piano concertos, all those 
Balanchine ballets: there's some composer from the past lurking in every 
page, leering at us through the dissonance of Stravinsky's own twentieth 
century language.

What's going on here, some kind of joke? Exactly: some kind of joke. 
Joke, imagine, right up there in our supreme magic circle, where those 
mismatched components are busily copulating. Remember: what's funny is 
what's incongruous; remember Groucho. And what's funny can bite deep: 
remember e.e. cummings. . . . There are all kinds of jokes: the humor 
continuum ranges all the way from slapstick burlesque through sardonic 
wit, through elegant satire, to black comedy and chilling dramatic 
irony. And it's all to be found in Stravinsky. In the most serious 
sense, humor, in one form or another, is the lifeblood of his 
neoclassicism. And I'm not talking about Elephant Polkas; I'm talking 
about his greatest works. Look: here is a joke and I assure you it's 
nothing to laugh at [63]. This is how Stravinsky begins his SYMPHONY OF 
PSALMS . . . In this opening movement he is setting Psalm No. 101, in 
Latin: "Exaudi orationem roeare, Domine" -- hear my prayer, O Lord, give 
ear to my supplication. Can you imagine how a Romantic composer might 
have set those words? Humble, supplicatory, introspective. Hushed, 
awestruck. Well-matched components. But not Stravinsky. He attacks: a 
brusque, startling pistol-shot of a chord, followed by some kind of 
Bachian finger exercise [64]. How mismatched can you get? It's the very 
antithesis of the Schubert-Wagner approach. It's loud, extrovert, 
commanding. And that's incongruous, a sublime dramatic joke. It's a 
prayer with teeth in it, a prayer made of steel; it violates our 
expectations, shatters us with its irony.  . . . It's exactly what we 
find happening in Eliot: in THE WASTE LAND, for instance, there is a 
similar mighty irony when he invokes the image of Shakespeare's mad 
Ophelia, quoting her last words before she goes to drown. But he does it 
this way:

     Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight. Ta ta. 
     Goonight. Goonight.                                      

and only then:

     Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night. 

Chilling. Shattering. Neoclassic. And thus Stravinsky [65]. Yes, there 
is that imploring Phrygian incantation in the vocal part; but underneath 
the orchestral accompaniment is steel and chromium. . . .

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