Reading vol. 3 of Stravinsky's Selected Correspondence, I was surprised, very nearly stunned, to come across a positive mention of Benjamin Britten's grand Elizabethan opera Gloriana. In a 1953 letter to the good people at Boosey & Hawkes, Stravinsky calls the score "very interesting." This is rather like an ordinary person calling it "unbelievably awesome." For the most part, Stravinsky had only vicious things to say about Britten, although his oft-quoted putdown of the War Requiem — "Nothing fails like success" — may have been nothing more than a spasm of professional jealousy in the wake of that work's runaway success. In any case, Gloriana is a glittering and haunting piece. I'm hoping to see it at Opera Theatre of St. Louis in June.
The letters with Poulenc end on a heartbreaking note. "If I no longer send you my music," Poulenc writes in 1962, "this is because I simply do not think it would interest you." He died a few months later.