The famous Italian composer Leoncovallo loved to listen to what people said about his operas. One evening, when his “Pagliacci” was on, he was sitting next to a girl who clapped with enthusiasm. Between claps she looked angrily at the gentleman sitting next to her who didn’t applaud at all.
When the curtain went down for the interval, she took the first opportunity of telling him what she thought of him. “How can you remain indifferent?” she asked. “Don’t you like it?” “No, it’s awful”, the composer answered. “I’m sorry I came”. “Are you”, she continued. “I am”, he answered. “Then you know nothing about music”, the girl said angrily. “Just listen”, the composer continued. “Stolen themes, all stolen. That last one was from Bizet, the one before from Beethoven. There isn’t a single new idea in the whole opera”. The girl turned her back on him without a further word.
At breakfast the next morning he found the local newspaper on his plate with an article called “Leoncovallo on his Opera “Pagliacci”. The lady reporter who had sat next to him hadn’t missed the opportunity of giving every word of their chance talk, which she described as “an interview”.