Work Ethic, Italian Style?
Jude Wanniski
March 20, 1997


Letters Editor
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10281

Dear Editor:
I must protest your "Where's the Maid?" editorial of March 18, in which you insist that Cecilia Bartoli would not sing in the Met's Saturday broadcast presentation of Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" because she does not possess the American work ethic. Your low and demeaning slur: "Does 'the show must go on' not translate into Italian?" gives new validity to the term 'politically correct.' What possesses the editors of the Journal to crack the whip over Ms. Bartoli, openly accusing her of malingering, when her entire career bespeaks professional integrity? When half the American-born cast calls in sick, including the conductor James Levine, why is it that you have to devote a half column of type to comparing this wonderful young woman to an American lout such as Dennis Rodman? You should be ashamed of yourselves.

What is happening to your once great editorial page? Are your editors and writers so accustomed to examining their laurels each morning, when they arrive at their Wall Street desks, that they believe their pontifications require no legwork? At least at the New York Times, an effort was made to inquire into the rationales for Ms. Bartoli's absence from the stage. The mezzo-soprano said her back hurt and she felt nauseous and did not want to appear in a most important broadcast performance with the possibility that something indelicate might occur. The management of the Met found a suitable replacement. If they had told her the show would have to be canceled because no replacement was available, we would then have learned if the show would have gone on. The motivation of your editorial writer, I suspect, was malicious. The lady deserves an apology.

Sincerely, as ever,

Jude Wanniski
Patron of the Metropolitan Opera