Cher Public

Up to speed

“New York is great. Opera is great. They deserve each other. So what can we do to get them together? Who can show us how it’s done? We need to ask the Germans.” [New York Observer]

  • gironabalie

    La Cieca,

    7. Never, never forget that opera is for everybody.

    Call me elitist if you will, but individuals will necessarily have very different tastes and attention spans. This is precisely why there are so many different entertainment options, and artists who cater to different populations.

    Opera is not for everyone.

    • mercadante

      I don’t think the point was that everyone will like it, more that no one should be excluded or made to feel that it couldn’t be for them.

    • 98rsd

      I disagree: if people can sit through something as stultifyingly dull as baseball, opera should be EASY.

      • gironabalie

        98rsd,

        Sure they might like some bits, laugh at some comic opera scene, find some melody beautiful, and all, but they won’t become opera lovers.

        I once, for fun, estimated the conversion rate of my efforts to introduce opera to the graduate student population I teach to, in one of the elite universities in the United States (a really, really, really elite one). Of all the students I expose to opera, what percentage of them actually do become bona fide opera lovers, buy tickets, buy recordings, attend opera, and continue to do so after they graduate from my teaching? I came up with 6%. This, in a population of graduate students in one of the top ten universities in the United States. Not more than 6%, unfortunately.

        • armerjacquino

          So? I went to an ‘elite’ university too and I can’t think of a single friend I made there who is into opera. And I know a lot of people who didn’t go to ‘elite’ universities who love opera to bits.

          Academic achievement is not a qualification criterion for appreciating opera. And if it were, it wouldn’t be any great shame if it did die out.

          • antikitschychick

            Preach armerj.

            Nicely, written and thoughtful piece by JJ as well. I’m surprised West Side Story is still playing at Komische Oper in Berlin. Saw it last summer and enjoyed it, even though the stage was partially blocked from where we were sitting. The soprano who sang Maria was obvs operatically trained and sang and acted beautifully. The Tenor playing Tony otot was not and unfortunately sounded weak and underwhelming in comparison. I went with my cousin and his gf, and after the show we met up with a lovely young lady who worked at the theater, whom my cousin was acquainted with…she got us a nice table in the after show dining lounge there; we ate, had a drink or two and talked about the show, among other things; we all liked the production and choreography and the performance by the soprano. Admittedly, it was a little bizarre hearing the spoken dialogue in German, considering its WSS. I prefer hearing it in English, but it didn’t ruin the performance or anything. I absolutely love that theater and can’t wait to go back and watch more opera performances there.

      • redbear

        Re baseball, I bet you’ve never been to the zenith of baseball experience: a no-hitter!

        • 98rsd

          Redbear--I just looked it up. In 2014, 3% of MLB games were no-hitters. Are you really going to use something that rare as your defense of baseball?

          • redbear

            Another example of how irony simply evaporates after a post.

      • Mario C

        98rsd -- I would sit through “something as stultifyingly dull as baseball” any day over a production of La Sonnambula, Pelleas, or Siegfried for that matter. But that’s just me.

      • Mare Lichter

        Maybe if they could drink beer and eat hotdogs while cursing at visiting singers, baseball fans could get into opera.

        • Henry Holland

          I’m an outlier, obviously, but I’ve been a huge baseball fan since 1967 (go Angels) and an opera fan since 1988. Given my experience with the fans of both, I’d pick hanging out with baseball fans 100 times out of 100.

          • parpignol

            some serious overlap--
            I think I’m remembering a performance of Heppner-Eaglen Tristan in fall 2003, everyone came rushing out into the plaza afterwards to learn the final baseball score of one of the ALCS games, had to wait through Tristan’s death to find out, added additional tension to the denouement; I think this was before we could just get this information instantly on our phones. . .

            • Henry Holland

              Early 1999, I was in Birmingham for the City of Birmingham SO’s performances of Nicholas Maw’s incredible Odyssey and after the concert, I walked across the plaza and watched Manchester United in a Champions League match against Inter. Funny to see a bunch of Aston Villa fans cheering for Inter.

              That 2003 ALCS was amazing, incredible drama to end Game 7.

            • parpignol

              and then came 2004. . .

          • semira mide

            Well, before there were THOSE Angels ( MLB) there were two minor league teams in the LA area. The Angels and the Hollywood Stars. It was always fun to go to their games because even if the playing was bad the enthusiasm was great ( both among players and fans)
            Never quite the same after MLB came to town.

  • phoenix

    The ideas in this article are fine -- but there are other cities in nations other than Berlin in Germany who have had just as great success -- for example, Moscow in Russia has:
    --> The Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre of Moscow:
    http://www.novayaopera.ru/en
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novaya_Opera_Theatre
    --> Helikon-Opera:
    http://helikon.ru/eng_default.php
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helikon_Opera
    --> Pokrovsky Opera -- Moscow Chamber Music Theatre
    http://www.opera-pokrovsky.ru/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_Chamber_Musical_Theatre
    --> Moscow Operetta Theatre:
    http://mosoperetta.ru/
    http://www.moscow.info/theaters/moscow-operetta-theatre.aspx
    --> Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre
    http://www.opera-centre.ru/
    http://www.moscow.info/theaters/galina-vishnevskaya-opera-center.aspx
    -- Yes, opera is for everyone and anyone could probably find a hook to hang their appreciation hat on.
    -- One of the greatest difficulties I have had with trying to get people interested is the difficulty in creating (or trying to recreate) one specific type of performance venue to satisfy all. An operahouse with skyhigh prices can be very forbidding. I have to say I was very lucky to get a job at the SF Opera when I was in my late teens, but in those days they were able to hire non-union personnel as a means to introduce young people looking for work to the art itself.
    -- The Operetta Theatre in Moscow uses Russian pop stars in many of their productions -- why can’t the Met offer up Lady Gaga as the Merry Widow or Chicago produce a zarzuela with Enrique Iglesias & Selena Gomez?
    -- I have a cousin who was a theater major in college, specializing in fencing. He subsequently went to both Broadway & Hollywood, not so much for fencing but more acting. When he was young & living in NYC, he stubbornly refused to do opera. When I asked him why, he replied that he found it restrictive -- his ideal of great theater was non-assigned seating -- the audience free to stroll around the parquet & balconies, ordering drinks & food, playing cards & gambling, doing whatever at will both in and out of the auditorium -- something like what went on at San Carlo di Napoli in Rossini’s time there -- and what I remember at the old Baltimore Opera House in the 1960’s. I told him it worked in Baltimore (where many of his ancestors came from) because those seated in the parterre boxes were permitted to indulge in this kind of social behavior -- it didn’t bother me at all -- the performances seemed quite fine. Now could it be possible to seat a certain portion of the audience that likes to concentrate solely on the performance, i.e. to be glued to one seat for the entire duration and not be disturbed visually or audially by anyone or anything else in the auditorium. And also would it be possible in that same auditorium to tear out the seats (the way they used to do in the theaters in Haight-Ashbury when I was young) and replace them with various types free-styl objects to walk, crawl or lay on -- and also to provide a cafe/casino in another part of the auditorium? Of course the old guard seat-holders would have to be visually/audially protected from any noises.

    • phoenix

      Yeeeeks! I forgot the Bolshoi Opera (my favorite) in Moscow -- guess I assumed everyone knew it was still there, albeit has been renovated like Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin will soon be.

    • Parsifals Plaything

      Phoenix
      Your listing of Moscow’s operas is much appreciated as I have a week in Moscow and a week in St. Petersburg planned for October. I was wondering if you might know of operas besides the Mariinsky in St.Petersburg.
      In fact any advice on opera in Russia would be helpful.

      • phoenix

        Although I have spent time in Finland near the Karelian border, I never crossed that northern border to visit St. Petersburg -- I always went south to Moscow and beyond. I know people from St. Petersburg who are very loyal in their love for their native city, so I admire you going there.
        1. The Mariinsky Theater (original theater)
        2. The nearby Mariinsky II -- construction started 2003 but was hampered by weakness in foundation subsoil (St. Petersburg, like Washington DC, was built on a filled-in swamp), it finally opened in 2013 at a total cost of 500 million Eruos. This theater interests me the most -- the pictures remind me of the operahouse in Oslo. Here you can see legendary extravaganzas like Frau ohne Schatten, Les Troyens, Lohengrin, the Ring cycle in a 2,000 seat theater.
        Website for both -- in the Mariinsky complex: http://www.mariinsky.ru
        3. The Mihailovksy theater website: http://www.mikhailovsky.ru
        4. The St. Petersburg Chamber Opera website: http://www.spbopera.ru/
        5. Opera and Ballet Theater of The St. Petersburg State Conservatory website: http://istud.conservatory.ru/
        6. The Hermitage Museum Theater website historical description: http://petersburgcity.com/theaters/hermitage/
        There are also two fine concert halls that program a wide range of orchestra & vocal works: the Philharmonic (http://www.philharmonia.spb.ru/en/) and the St. Petersburg Capella (http://capella-spb.ru/en/article/show/section/id/14)
        IN MOSCOW: There are some great concert halls: Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Chamber Hall of the Moscow Philharmonic and Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. Information and videos can be accessed on this site: http://meloman.ru/?
        Check the subscription listing for the opera performances already scheduled. Click on Watch and Listen -- Videos -- you will find quite a collection of live performances.

        • Parsifals Plaything

          Phoenix, this is most helpful.
          Thank you for your time.

          • phoenix

            You are very welcome. Please, if you have the time, report back here to us your impressions of what you experience on your trip.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Wonderful article JJ. I loved your profound comment about the Marschallin having removed herself from active life. Scary when that happens.

    If Maedchen Amik, or Annick (Massis) married Yannick… nevermind -- it ain’t gonna happen, but Yannick has a nice newvideo talking about sincerity and the future of music here:
    http://www.musik-heute.de/10380/classicalnext-yannick-nezet-seguins-keynote-speech/

    Unfortunately his optimism that music can be a balsam will fall on deaf ears. The damage to society is too severe.

  • Germans produce a lot more contemporary opera than the MET does. Conservative repertoire choices and conservative theatrical tastes fit hand in glove. Surprised that JJ seems to overlook this so consistently.

  • Feldmarschallin

    http://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/kriminalitaet-mitarbeiter-handeln-in-der-oper-mit-drogen-1.2491009

    On a happier note tomorrow is the Lulu Premiere. Will anyone else be there?

    • Lohengrin

      Droge Musik sollte reichen!!!!!!!!!!
      Music as a drug should be enough!!!!

    • PCally

      Feldmarschallin, please report back. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Petersen since I missed her performances at the met and look forward to her performances next season.

  • redbear

    I am always interested in different repertory. Just now on stage: Krol Roger in London, Roi Arthus in Paris, La Juive in Nice and Betrothal in a Monastery in Toulouse.

  • CwbyLA

    I think cost of opera ticket is one of the biggest obstacles for young audience members. When i was a graduate student in Philaselphia and living on a 20 thousand dollar student stipend, the 8-dollar rush tickets to Philadelphia Orchestra were God sent. In fact it was a cultural phenomena among young audience membes. You would buy these tickets, line up at the auditorium door and 5 minutes before the performance the ushers would seat you to the unsold seats. Friendships both among the students and between the students and ushers formed while waiting in those lines. That 8-dollar ticket gave us an amazing experience and it was affordable. I would see tons of students attending these concerts. I attended tens of them myself during my time in Philadelphia. I would be seated next to older folks who paid much more than me in the auditorium but nobody seemed to mind. They would usually strike up a friendly conversation about what I studied, how many concerts I came to, which composer I liked, etc… My friend found a summer internship in a law firm because of one of these conversations. I hope that student rush ticket program still continues.

    • When I was unemployed and on the dole in London I could still afford to go to the Coliseum. Lots of houses do have cheap seats.

      I note, though it’s hardly OT, that the cost of iPhones doesn’t seem to be an obstance at all.

      • laddie

        I can’t help but point out that paying for phone service is rather a necessity these days (most people I come across have no land line) and with a phone plan, a free phone is always available; I got my i-phone with contract renewal and trade in for about $50.

      • CwbyLA

        If the GM of an opera company isin the mind set that the young generation should trade in their iPhones for opera tickets, he/she is dreaming! That thought process is the very definition of how not to attract the younger generation.

    • Bluebeard

      Well here in NYC, a student ticket to the Met is $37.50 all performances, the equivalent to going to the movies three times. True there are 17.50 standing room, but it’s hard to convince people who wouldn’t ordinarily go to a performance to do standing room in the Family Circle. It’s also a hassle to do it because buying online means another 5-10 in extra fees. Meanwhile, the NY Phil next door has $15 student tickets AND 100 free tickets for young people on Friday nights. To its credit, the NY Phil created a program that is not only appealing for students but also to young people in the city who are probably not depending on parental support the way they may have at university.

      I found something Kosky once said wonderful about German subsidies to the arts: that the subsidies aren’t supposed to necessarily fund opera per se, but to make opera affordable for all Berliners. It’d be a challenge, though perhaps necessary to figure out how to find the requisite funding to do this for New York opera.

      • johns33

        Here is another point about attracting younger audience at the MET-- lets say you are developing an interest and decide to take a date to show them what it is all about -- comes intermission you stare at those outrageous refreshment prices and the message is clear-- you don’t belong here. They should have something on the menu that is “street priced” and affordable so that anyone can partake in the full experience of “going to the opera”

        • antikitschychick

          Completely agree with you John. The student priced tickets are doable, considering that the seats are actually pretty good. But the refreshments and amenities are ridiculously expensive. Last time I went it was my friend’s bday so I wanted to treat her and I spent something like 30 something or 40 dollars on a glass of bubbly and a sandwich. That is ridiculous. Plus, anyone who doesn’t live in NYC has to pay for travel expenses as well, so a trip to the Met, adding up the cost of the tickets, travel and possible refreshments could easily escalate to a hundred dollars which many students cannot afford on a regular basis. Most of my law school classmates would only want to go once a semester or once a year for that reason.
          I’m still going to go more next season because I will be paying less for housing costs next year, but if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t be able to go a lot either.

    • Cicciabella

      I agree that ticket prices are crucial in getting young people to go to the opera. Rush concert tickets for around 15 euros and opera tickets for 20 euros for the under-thirties diversify the audiences in Amsterdam. Note that they are not student tickets, but for all under-thirties. The Dutch National Opera does a good job of publicising its under-thirty programme via social media. Once young people get into the opera house, you need to offer them an interesting theatrical experience. I don’t get the sense that young opera goers care whether a production is experimental Regie or classical theatre: they just want to be wowed, involved, moved or engrossed by what they see. It is, in my opinion, useless for an opera house to try to attract thirty- to fifty-year-olds with young children. For this segment planing an opera visit, arranging and/or paying for baby-sitting is just too much of a hassle and too expensive. Only the die-hards continue to go to the opera while raising young children, and they don’t need to be lured, but young parents who learned to love opera when they were younger will return to it when they are older. An opera house should work to retain older patrons and attract new, young audiences. The puzzle is how to appeal to both groups, which are also heterogeneous within themselves. Another way to attract new audiences is to offer mini mixed-subscriptions with other performing arts institutions, such as mainstream theatre and the ballet. A subscription could include a play, a ballet and an opera, or a play, a symphonic concert and an opera. But maybe the Met does this already. By the way, in Germany, as in all other countries, there are enough patrons who dislike modern Regie productions, and especially the fact that they are subsidised by taxes. Another way to attract new audiences is to offer mini mixed-subscriptions with other performing arts institutions, such as mainstream theatres and ballet companies. A subscription could include a play, a ballet and an opera, or a play, a symphonic concert and an opera: but maybe the Met does this already.

      • Chanterelle

        Some European houses have considered these issues. A few examples off the top of my head: tonight there was a queue of about 30 students waiting to buy last minute discounted tickets to Stuttgart’s ROSENKAVALIER (sold ~15 minutes before curtain). Paris sells last minute tickets to students and seniors for 30€. Frankfurt offers performances with babysitters, and some operas have designated family performances. Pricey Zurich Opera has one subsidized “people’s performance” for most operas, with top price around 75CHF, which is lower than all but their lowest category. Paris Opera and La Monnaie among others offer mixed-form subscriptions. And back on my hobby horse: except for Paris, all of these houses offer free pre-performance talks for ticket holders. And their monthly or bi-monthly magazine is free (though printed programs are not).

        The Met (it’s my home house, don’t jump on me!) still retains an air of exclusivity. It seems counter productive to exclude people when you desperately need to build audiences. Don’t whine about gray heads: they may dominate in most houses, but they (we) are they and they (we) buy tickets. Yes, there were slow-moving patrons and the occasional squeal of a hearing aid tonight, but there were plenty of young people, too.

        • Krunoslav

          “And their monthly or bi-monthly magazine is free (though printed programs are not).”

          Expensive program books filled with quotes from Walter Benjamin and Julia Kristeva aside, the issue of the disappearance of free one-page cast lists from many European houses has mystified me in the last decade or so. What are they thinking? Sometimes there isn’t even a single program tacked up on every floor, as there used to be in socialist lands.

  • Batty Masetto

    An additional factor that Jossi Wieler doesn’t mention, probably because he’s taking it for granted, is that not just German theater artists, but a substantial chunk of the German theatergoing public, have become uneasy with the political implications of “historicist” productions.

    Americans can go to a place like Nuremberg and simply be charmed by the (restored) medieval setting. But in the aftermath of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, I’d hazard the guess that a large percentage of educated Germans today can’t look at it without at least a small internal cringe at how Hitler’s idealization of the city’s original fabric was part and parcel of his ideological agenda, and how hideously Nuremberg (not to mention everyone else) suffered as a result:

    Before:
    http://back-n-time-antiques.com/2german_postcard.jpg

    After:
    http://www.holocaustianity.com/images/nurnsebald2x.jpg

    (The reason you can see the bare ribs of the bombed cathedral is that the building in front, with the stepped façade, is completely gone.)

    “Historical” pageantry was equally a feature of Italian fascism and even Soviet art. So when a European production, especially a German one, avoids historical literalism and grandiose spectacle, there’s more going on than just the search for artistic innovation and an allergy to kitsch, as important as those are. As much as I personally prefer innovative productions, it’s not clear to me how well a broad American public can be persuaded by this approach without the accompanying historical and educational and social substrate.

    Spectacle has always been a big selling point for opera, just as it is for Mad Max films, and in a certain sense Mad Max is where the competition for audiences here lies – not directly, but aesthetically. Broadway today certainly relies heavily on overblown spectacle. That’s why I can’t get too bothered about the Las Vegas “Rigoletto,” for example. Yes, it’s regie lite, but it’s splashy to look at and seems to have been relatively well received among the general public. Opera without easy-to-read spectacle may be a harder sell here.

    • turings

      Great point.

      I think attendance is more about theaters knowing what their audiences want, in terms of productions and musical values. Vienna and Covent Garden, neither of which are very into Regie, have audience attendance rates of 99% and 98% for opera. So does Munich, with its quite different aesthetic and a subsidy of €117 per seat.

      There’s actually an argument in Germany among people who don’t like Regie (and they do exist, as Cicciabella says) that it’s partly the subsidies make it possible, because theaters don’t have to placate their audiences.

    • laddie

      Great little essay Batty; we have discussed this on Parterre before but you make the point crystal clear. Thanks.

      • redbear

        All “growth,” “adventure,” “iconoclastic” in art depends on help from an outside source. It is always in need of a patron, ministry of culture, dedicated brother, wife who works. Van Gogh was not alone. All creative artists ran into a wall at the beginning.
        Trouble is, few in America regard opera as a creative activity. What I do not understand is how ballet in America can set world standards for creativity, how art of American artists set records at every auction, how our writers are inspirations everywhere but our opera is middle of the road at best. Our most creative directors are (Wilson, Sellars) are forced into exile. Our composers (Adams, Glass) are celebrated and produced everywhere but only reluctantly in their home country. If there is a composer frequently produced here it is someone like Heggie. Is he the best we have?

        • The word “ballet” reminds me. At the Bastille the other night (for Le Rois Arthus), an American behind epxlained to his wife: “The Paris opera has a ballet company too. It’s supposed to be quite good”.

  • redbear

    Comparing opera to Mad Max makes me uncomfortable. Mad Max is entertainment, pure and simple. But that is not what opera is. The word “art” comes to mind to describe it, with all the challenging, innovative meaning. Pushing boundaries, attaining the exulted, universal and mysterious is what Mozart, Gluck, Verdi, etc. were trying to do and this is fundamental to the art.
    They were also pushing social boundaries. America is in an existential crisis with the concentration of wealth as was Europe in Mozart’s time. The authorities in Vienna knew exactly how subversive Marriage of Figaro was and banned it but Marie Antoinette was so clueless, she welcomed the performances. Where are opera composers today regarding America’s crisis? Verdi would have certainly addressed it. I guess everyone’s at the local cinema watching the latest Mad Max release.

    • turings

      Haven’t seen it yet, but Mad Max is getting a lot of buzz for being an interesting feminist take on the post-apocalyptic movie.

      The composers you mention may have done all the things you say, but they also did it within genre conventions. Not sure there’s any conflict between ‘fun night out’ and ‘great art’ – or anything wrong with enjoying opera as pure entertainment either, come to that.

      • armerjacquino

        Beautifully put, I agree with every word.

        Plus of course seeing Mad Max doesn’t automatically disqualify anyone from going to an opera or vice versa. There’s more than one night in the year.

      • redbear

        You sound both flippant and remarkably uninformed. “Within genre conventions!!??” Wagner broke all the rules. So did Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Grieg, Honegger, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Gershwin, Brahms, etc. etc. There is a remarkable difference between great art and “a fun night out” and if you conflate the two I can only feel sorry for your lack of basic education and your inflated sense of self-worth.

        • turings

          Heh. I suspect we have different ideas of fun. Horrifyingly, I also like comic book movies, the Eurovision Song Contest, and prefer The Count of Monte Cristo to Ulysses …

          • armerjacquino

            Careful. Don’t want that nasty ‘self-worth’ to trip you up again…

          • redbear

            I’m now off my soapbox and appreciate where you are coming from as a person. It is, I believe, important to understand that opera, like other arts, was fundamentally involved with both expanding the artistic limits and also involved in social issues. Intellectuals at the time had no doubt that Fidelio had government injustice at the heart of the libretto. Verdi was particularly involved and constantly censored. But the message of Mozart and Verdi is valid today. Mozart’s biggest Parisian fan and her husband should have been connected with intellectual currents of the time but were not and had their heads severed from their bodies some months later as a result. In America CEO compensation used to be 20 times average salary. Now it is 300 times while minimum wage remains stuck in neutral. Does anyone wonder why young, bright people are not going to the opera. The absolute detachment of opera from the “real world” in America is simply astounding. Exhibit A is the vapid conversation around here.

            • armerjacquino

              Well, I have a few questions.

              Does anyone wonder why young, bright people are not going to the opera

              Aren’t they?

              The absolute detachment of opera from the “real world” in America is simply astounding

              How does this detachment manifest itself? What is the ‘real world’? Does this situation only apply in America?

              Exhibit A is the vapid conversation around here.

              For example?

            • turings

              Well yes, sort of, redbear. But Verdi also dealt in melodrama and big melodies, and provided fun nights out in the theater. And apparently Mad Max has things to say about feminism and modern America, though it’s set in a post-apocalyptic space. There’s more than one way of addressing ‘the real world’, and nothing wrong with being entertaining.

              Anyway, I don’t believe art has to speak directly to contemporary social concerns to be important. In fact, there’s plenty of didactic dross that does just that.

        • armerjacquino

          ‘You disagree with me therefore are ill-informed and uneducated’.

          Bye bye.

        • Krunoslav

          “You sound both flippant and remarkably uninformed.”

          ” if you conflate the two I can only feel sorry for your lack of basic education and your inflated sense of self-worth.”

          This is a put-on right? We are meant to see the pompous rhetoric of the last clause parodying those who would venture the previous *ex cathedra* statements.

          Um, right?

          • armerjacquino

            I keep staring at ‘lack of basic education’ and wondering what kind of person one would have to be to say that to an articulate stranger.

            • turings

              I dunno – my perpetually nerdy inner teenager was kind of thrilled ;) That’d be the inflated self worth, though.

            • redbear

              If someone is really interested in opera, they would likely read the few paragraphs about the opera in their program. How profoundly revolutionary most opera was for its contemporaries, both socially and artistically, is common knowledge and to describe it as “entertainment” suggests that some never get past the cast list in their program. That is actually OK with me. Often the people sitting next to me are not even sure what opera they are seeing but if these people did not buy tickets, we would all not be there.

            • ianw2

              If someone is really interested in opera, they would likely read the few paragraphs about the opera in their program. How profoundly revolutionary most opera was for its contemporaries, both socially and artistically, is common knowledge and to describe it as “entertainment” suggests that some never get past the cast list in their program. That is actually OK with me.

              Sitting in the house, I could give no fewer liquid shits how revolutionary a work was two hundred years ago (incidentally, Jeremy Denk wrote a superb essay on the banalities of program notes on this very topic).

              I’m far more interested in how I respond to the work in front of me at that moment in time considering the time and financial sacrifices I made to be there.

            • Not to stray too far from the discussion from Ianw’s liquid shits, but for my money, the most whimsical skewering of program note conventions was furnished by Terry Riley for his Banana Humberto.

    • Batty Masetto

      It seems as though redbear has forgotten that opera also has a long, long record of being accused of shallow titillation and hedonism, from the 17th c. diva who kept getting arrested for appearing nude, to 18th c. rationalist critiques of opera seria, to the premiere of Salome, to Kerman’s denunciation of the “shabby little shocker” and beyond. That’s always been a part of opera too.

      Come to think of it, why not try for the Mad Max crowd? (Due obeisance at this point to those Parterrians who are Mad Max fans already.) It wouldn’t make Fidelio any less noble in concept.

      • armerjacquino

        I’d missed this in amongst all the bluster. Absolutely spot on.

  • redbear

    Armerjacquino, I am suggesting that opera is not intellectually relevant today. That is my issue. If you have any thoughts on that, I would appreciate you trying to articulate them. Flogging your opponent would get you tossed out of any junior year debate class.

    • redbear

      I go to the opera in both American and Europe and have, as many others here, noted the average age difference. You haven’t?

    • armerjacquino

      I’m not in a junior year debate class. I asked you some questions because I couldn’t work out what point you were making. If you don’t fancy answering them, there’s not much I can do about it.

      I’ve been to the opera in America and Europe too, and the average age of the audience has depended entirely on the opera concerned. At 39 I was one of the oldest in the TWO BOYS audience.

      • redbear

        Imagine this is an art discussion group and somebody said “Why don’t artists paint vases of flowers anymore? or “I lost interest when Impressionism arrived.” You would very likely get a reaction from someone in the group. Why not here?
        And “average age depends entirely on the opera concerned?” Try a Tosca in Paris and New York with your eyes open and get back to me about average age.
        Thinking of our leader’s reports from Germany, I was just thinking about Europe and America and how they finance opera, another thing to talk about. The Michael Haneke production of Don Giovanni in Paris, revived regularly, has the arrogant, privileged, untouchable, drug-snorting, sex obsessed Don as a billionaire banker with a floor to ceiling windowed NYC sky scraper and stocks on screens behind him. Mozart’s contemporaries saw a description of aristocrats they all knew. The French saw a description of the “aristocrats” they know. The only difference between then and now is that in the opera the Don is consumed by the fires of hell. These same “dons” emerged from 2008, a world financial catastrophe, with a government bailout and, instead of being behind bars, are making more money now than ever. Topic of discussion: why couldn’t Haneke’s excellent and relevant production be staged at the Met? Because they are still “untouchable” and a source of a significant part of the donations to the Met? Maybe the government funding allows intendants the freedom to talk about things like income inequality and other social issues. Income inequality is even being discussed by Republican candidates these days. Social movements important to Mozart and his contemporaries changed Europe. Almost everyone I know is aware of the paralysis of social dialogue in America and concerned by the ultimate danger if it continues. In history, artists frequently were leading the fight (think Mario Cavaradossi). Does opera today have any role?

        • turings

          The premise of the Haneke production, as you describe it, sounds fairly banal. I’m not sure why you think it’s particularly daring, in a French context, to set it among New York bankers – sounds like a convenient Other to me. Come back to me when it’s about rapey French politicians and double standards in French public life. Actually, don’t.

          • redbear

            I won’t. This forum is not obviously the place to discuss any possible relevance of opera to modern life. I apologize for the intrusion and you can return to your normal programming.

            • armerjacquino

              The relevance of opera to modern life is discussed here pretty much daily.

            • Krunoslav

              Why has no one mentioned the need to promulgate-nay, institutionalize--the use of chicken puppets in order to lure in the millennials?

            • Working on it….

        • Henry Holland

          The Michael Haneke production of Don Giovanni in Paris, revived regularly, has the arrogant, privileged, untouchable, drug-snorting, sex obsessed Don

          Yawn, Peter Sellars did that in the late 1980’s in the Spanish Harlem Don Giovanni where Act II opens with the Don and Leporello snorting bumps of cocaine off their hands. There was also the Trump Tower Le Nozze di Figaro (there’s your “NYC skyscraper” set) and Cosi fan tutti set in a diner. I’m sure somewhere in Germany in the last 20 years that Pelleas et Melisande was set in a Malibu beach house too.

          Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

          • redbear

            Exactly. The American opera establishment’s exclusion of one of their most creative directors, leaving him an acclaimed, award-winning European career and a creative influence of a generation of European directors is a classic example of their militant denial of opera’s relevance to our time. He has just been named artistic consultant to the Berlin Philharmonic and his Iolanta/Persephone will be seen in Aix and Lyon (where the average audience age is 40 they say). Saw the Malibu beach house Pelleas in Lyon, btw.

            • redbear

              Oops.. It was actually the Cosi Malibu beach house… Bill Christie conducted.

            • Krunoslav

              You mean the exclusion that found Sellars directing NIXON IN CHINA at the Met, HERCULES at Lyric in Chicago and Toronto and GRISELDA and in Santa Fe, plus several things at he L.A. Phlharmonic? None of this is ancient history.

              Some people, you know, make a fine career of being the ‘sole good American” in Europeans’ eyes.

            • redbear

              Krunoslav, do you know how ridiculous you sound citing three Sellars operas staged in America in a career spanning four decades and only two of them commissioned. Canada has more. Proves my point. About the Chicago staging, soldiers coming home from the war, he made the point that one-third of Chicago’s homeless were veterans. My observation: one out of thirty American school children is homeless and the rate of teenage pregnancy is seven times worse in American than in France. Keep us informed about Robert Wilson’s work in America too and let me know if you need more stats.

            • “My point, and I do have one….”

              I think we may have found a replacement for GCR.

            • Krunoslav

              redbear, you obviously have no idea how ridiculous you sound saying anything. those are just three examples within the last 4 years…

              too boring a blowhard to engage, sorry…

        • ianw2

          A penthouse Don G. How revolutionary. Next you’ll blow my mind with a Verdi chorus in trench coats.

          Although I do agree with your final question- opera houses today are politically inert.

          • redbear

            As most everyone here, you miss the point. I was not discussing regie but opera representing a “master of the universe” banker. This was pointed, targeted social commentary.

            • armerjacquino

              How on earth does he miss the point? The idea of funding contemporary equivalents to DG’s ability to act without fear of consequence is as old as the hills.

              Once again you fall into the pompous trap of assuming that any one who doesn’t share your exact opinion (and indeed ‘most everyone here’) is stupid and ill-informed. To do so while presenting a much examined trope as in some way cutting-edge is, at the very least, risky.

            • redbear

              Amerjaquino. Name one. One staging targeting at important social issues today. Only one I can think of is Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. I’m saying American opera, both new opera and stagings of repertory opera, has avoided social issues with studious intent. Even popular TV series are beginning to address the economic downturn and stress of life in America. Where’s opera?

            • armerjacquino

              Wait, what did I say?

            • “Only one I can think of is Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.”

              Then that speaks poorly for your thinking skills.

              But here, have some crow for breakfast.

            • la vociaccia

              Or David T. Little’s Dog Days (staged at Fort Worth Opera and Los Angeles Opera), Laura Kaminsky’s As One (which JJ reviewed), Huang Ruo’s An American Soldier (presented last season at Washington National Opera and tells the story of Danny Chen, a soldier who committed suicide following racial abuse in the U.S Military).

            • armerjacquino

              And ANNA NICOLE, and TWO BOYS… Plus of course an opera doesn’t need a contemporary setting to address contemporary concerns. With equal marriage such a hot topic, for example, it’s not hard to see the relevance of a piece about Wilde’s imprisonment.

            • Yes, there are dozens of examples to be found. Redbear is not only ignorant of them, he was too lazy to look things up for himself.

            • Indiana Loiterer III

              I’m saying American opera, both new opera and stagings of repertory opera, has avoided social issues with studious intent.

              It isn’t just a case of “social issues”; if it were, we might all just as well depart for Adam Bellow’s Liberty Island (see http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2015/05/friday-round-horn_22.html for the lurid details). Robert Wilson (the other American director redbear likes to praise) doesn’t need social relevance to be contemporary. What so much mainstream American opera has lacked for the past several decades, both the new works and the productions of older works, is a genuinely contemporary sensibility. I’m not sure I can define a genuinely contemporary sensibility in this space, especially since more and more a didactic approach to social issues seems to consume a large portion of it these days, but what I’ve been looking for for years is some sort of operatic counterpart to the better American novelists and filmmakers of our time.

            • “American opera lacks a certain je ne sais quoi

            • Most of this subthread has been spent dealing with very silly generalizations about contemporary American opera.

              But since we’re on the subject of contemporary American opera and its putative lack of political timeliness and “genuinely contemporary sensibility”, I’ll put in a plug for Lisa Bielawa’s TV-serial-opera “Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser”, whose pilot episode can be seen here.

              And I’ll throw in some clips from other operas for discussion.

              Daniel Rothman’s “Cezanne’s Doubt”

              Matthew Welch’s ReAnimator Requiem”

              Tod Machover’s “Death and the Powers”

            • Indiana Loiterer III

              Yes, m. croche, but these generally aren’t the American operas done by established opera companies (Floyd, Heggie, Bolcom & co.) which is what I meant by “mainstream”.

            • So if you like operas such as these, Indiana Loiterer III, if you think they embody a “genuine contemporary sensibility”, then don’t just sit on the sidelines complaining. Support them. Talk them up.

            • la vociaccia

              Well, maybe the composers of the operas m. croche listed would become more ‘mainstream’ if people didn’t summarily dismiss American opera as out of touch…

  • Krunoslav

    How long have you been 39?

    • armerjacquino

      I took a punt and got it wrong. In fact, when I saw TWO BOYS in June 2011 I had just turned 38.

      • Krunoslav

        I meant the question in the Vera Charles spirit.

        • armerjacquino

          If I wore my hair like yours I’d be bald.

        • turings

          “Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now.”

          39 is perhaps even more becoming.

          • redbear

            Quote from Alex Olie of LA Fura dels Baus who staged the Lyon Dutchman last year: “I believe our staging of the show opens the opera up to new audiences. For example here in the theater in Lyon the average age of the audience is 40 which is a fairly young age.”

  • I think the issue that La C is talking about is not really something the Met has any control over. The Komische Opera in Berlin can afford these kinds of highly detailed, well-acted regie productions because:

    1. It’s a smaller house, where these highly detailed productions tend to play better
    2. It mostly utilizes younger, up-and-coming singers with enough gaps in their schedule that they can afford to spend a lot of time rehearsing these detailed, specific, opera-as-theater productions

    The bigger and more international a house becomes, the more the rosters look the same and the more the repertoire also starts to look the same. The big stars simply aren’t willing to spend lots of (unpaid) time rehearsing — they don’t have the gaps in their schedule to do that, and plus there are always offers of one-off concerts here and there. It should be noted that even Bayreuth has had trouble retaining A-list stars for its productions — again, too many demands of time and rehearsal on the singers.

    Different houses might have different favored directors and different aesthetic preferences as well as some house favorites, but if you look at, say, the roster of any season at the BSO you’ll see a lot of the familiar voices and faces popping up … everywhere.

    The issue is that NY right now doesn’t have a smaller, more boutique company to compete with the Met. The NYCO used to fill that niche beautifully — it had younger singers, more diverse repertoire, and more experimental productions. But the NYCO doesn’t exist anymore. And no opera company in NYC has been able to step up to the plate and compete.

    Even if Stefan Herheim were to bring a production (or three) to the Met I don’t think the results will be as magical as they were in these smaller German theaters, simply because he’ll be working with:

    1. Big stars who don’t have the time or care to rehearse all the details he’d want
    2. A huge house where some of his more subtle effects would never project to a 4,000 person house
    3. A huge behemoth of labor unions who will charge OT for extra rehearsals

    • Fluffy-net

      Just a couple of details:

      — The Komische Oper draws singers primarily from a resident ensemble. They are not trolling the unemployment lines
      — Herheim has worked with “big stars” at Salzburg, Bayreuth, Covent Garden, and probably other places I can’t think of right now. His work is not confined to second tier houses and singers.
      — The BSO gets a pretty good mix of top singers and innovative productions requiring ample rehearsal time, I think. Just think of that Forza.

    • antikitschychick

      good points Ivy, but wouldn’t you agree that some changes are still necessary? I mean, can the Met afford to keep putting on new productions, hiring said “big stars” they bank on and pay the orchestra, chorus,stagehands,crafts ppl and admin salaries with an average attendance of 70-something percent? (It was 79 percent in the 12-13 season according to this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/arts/music/met-opera-reports-falling-attendance.html?_r=0 and I suspect it has declined further these past couple of seasons based on all the comments from posters who attend regularly about how ’empty’ the house is at any given, non-opening night performance).

      Also, the NYCO may have ‘filled in that niche’ beautifully as you say in terms of providing a viable artistic alternative to the Met for NY operagoers, but if the Met was truly that dependent on NYCO why didn’t they participate in the campaign to help salvage it, especially if they knew that it’s demise could put the Met’s own financial stability at stake? Perhaps Met personnel thought that the demise of NYCO would actually be beneficial since they’d have no one to compete with, or perhaps they thought they couldn’t really do enough to make a difference…maybe it makes sense to conclude that the Met needs a smaller house like NYCO to compete with in retrospect, but I tend to think the Met’s issues are largely internal to how the Met operates and the types of artists who can perform well in a house that size for a lengthy period of time.

      The fact of the matter is, the number of artists who can perform well at the Met in the standard rep is growing increasingly smaller and a lot of times, because singers are cast for roles years in advance, by the time they finally make it to the Met they’re no longer able to fulfill the demands of the role on the level that we would all expect based on previous performances elsehwhere. Moreover, with the advent of HDs, live streaming, smartphones, etc, ppl can access high-caliber performances from Europe, the Met or almost anywhere for free, so why pay an exorbitant amount of money to hear X singer in X role in a stodgy production when there’s a performance from 2 yrs ago available on Youtube for free with the same or similar cast, better production etc?

      IMHO the star system no longer works because there simply aren’t enough stars anymore and the Met can’t keep depending on the likes of Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann because as great as they are, they won’t be around forever. There needs to be a solid artistic core to what is being presented onstage that isn’t dependent on X divo or diva. The production needs to be able to stand on its own as do the musical values. The Met already has a great orchestra and chorus, but without a great music director at its helm the quality of said orchestra and chorus suffer. Thus, I agree with JJ. Bring on the the detailed productions.

    • Bluebeard

      As far as I’m aware, the problem with attracting premiere singers at Bayreuth right now is not due so much to rehearsal times but to the paycheck, which is nothing compared to what one can make in Salzburg, which runs concurrently. Outside the Ring, singers at Bayreuth tend to sing only one performance a week. With only six performances then through late August, this makes rehearsing for anything new premiering in September very difficult. Why would Nina Stemme sing in the Bayreuth Tristan, if she has the offer to sing more performances at the Met in a new production for its opening night?

      While it might be hard to have Herheim or Kosky on a regular basis, there’s no reason that their productions can’t be hosted with four or five houses. Look at the Chereau collaborations that have reached or will reach the meet. From the House of the Dead is as intricate production as you can get, but it was a coproduction between the Met, Aix, the Wiener Festwochen, La Scala, and the Berlin Staastoper. On the whole, you had most cast members reprising their roles each time. I’d imagine that costs are managed between these multiple companies, as less rehearsal time overall is needed when you have multiple singers reprising roles. I’m sure that’s how Waltraud Meier is being allowed to do Parsifal in Berlin just two weeks before the Met Elektra premiere.

      All these directors being discussed typically do have long rehearsal periods, but the Met does have long new production rehearsals very frequently. Parsifal and Igor both had very long rehearsal processes, involving many different components, and there were certainly details to be appreciated from the nosebleed seats.

      Lately, Salzburg had been presenting only new productions for three years straight, and they’ve taken to doing some early rehearsals for certain productions in the spring. I know the Met starts doing that in August, but, if they need to attract more directors, they might be able to start rehearsals for specific productions that need more time. Who knows?

      • Bluebeard, what I’m saying is that the model for running a smaller, regional theater in Germany is much different than running an international house. And that’s not really just the Met. If you look at what’s playing in Covent Garden right now … A La Boheme with Netrebko and Calleja. If you look at the casts for Vienna, Covent Garden, Zurich, Paris, San Francisco, wherever … you start to see the same overlap of singers, similar productions, similar repertoire.

        And about rehearsal periods, at the Met they vary by production but I do know for example that in the NP of Iolanta/Bluebeard Netrebko only rehearsed for about two weeks.

        Again, I’m not saying that Herheim won’t work at the Met. In fact, I think he has the visual aesthetic and enough of a sense of entertainment to work beautifully at the Met. But the Met is always going to need its mix of repertory warhorse productions, just like any major international opera house has.

        • Bluebeard

          Ok, but it’s crazy to think of the Komische as small. Yes, they’re small-er, but they’re doing over 160 performances a year of a wide variety of material, including 20 opera productions. Yes, they’re using an ensemble cast of singers, but they are, on the whole, of a very high quality, and it’s the best way to cultivate singers in the future. Frankly, I’d be ok if the Met cut fifteen-twenty performances each season and did more interesting material rather than exhausted performances of Hoffmann or Carmen. I’d much rather the Met do large musical pieces like the Gurrelieder or the Verdi Requiem each season with excellent casts (which should be possible, given the minor time requirements needed to present concerts rather than opera), and I’d imagine that 3 concert performances of a major scale work would do better than a Boheme that runs for four performances too many.

          The Iolanta/Bluebeard had no need to do over two weeks of rehearsal, if you ask me. As far as I’m aware however, the rehearsals lasted for well over two weeks, but Netrebko didn’t come in until the last two. Considering how she, Beczala, Markov, and Michael (if not more of the cast) have sung in this production before, it seems appropriate that the Met didn’t need more than two weeks of rehearsals, at least for the Iolanta principals.

          I think I am saying that there is no reason that you can’t have a Herheim, Kosky or Chereau create productions that would become “war horse” productions. These are generally already co-productions with many other top-tier houses, and singers in original runs often carry over in revivals. In a way, I suspect a Kosky or Herheim could be better revived than, say, a Hytner production, if the original director is unable to oversee the revival. The dazzling visuals provide a lot of instructions automatically to the singers. Of course, a Herheim Rosenkavalier would probably lose its lustre after awhile (though sometimes that makes a Rosenkavalier production all the better!), but what warhorse hasn’t? As long as you have a revival director who can commit to the production’s strengths, there’s no reason that even the most challenging production can’t last (at least for a while). It’s how Frau Ohne Schatten was such a hit in 2013, but Don Carlo has been such a cold fish in its revivals. Anyway, I sort of stopped believing in the idea of a warhorse production after the Grandage Don Giovanni, which seemed like a surrendering whimper of a staging that was dead on arrival.

  • redbear

    I asked for examples of productions or new opera that addressed important social issues in America, the concentration of wealth, the despair of the poor, the brutal policing, the ugly incarceration rate, the mistreatment of our veterans, the police state invasion of privacy. You see it on the news every day. No productions were given which addressed these social issues (except the Sellars Hercules, of course). The few marginalized new operas, none in major houses, had contemporary themes, (Anna Nicole is the exception) but none corresponded to what I asked. As I said, even TV has them (Weeds, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black come to mind). Not opera.
    There was an article recently about the dumbing down of popular song lyrics. A study found that in the last 10 years, they went from third-fourth grade level to second-third grade level. In his book, Idiot America, the author sums up: “The rise of idiot America today represents–for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power–the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good.”

    • armerjacquino

      I asked for examples of productions or new opera that addressed important social issues in America, the concentration of wealth, the despair of the poor, the brutal policing, the ugly incarceration rate, the mistreatment of our veterans, the police state invasion of privacy

      You’re now retroactively defining which social issues you were asking for. All you said was (quote) “Name one. One staging targeting at important social issues today.” and “American opera, both new opera and stagings of repertory opera, has avoided social issues”.

      You were given operas about unemployment and societal breakdown (DOG DAYS), transphobic violence (AS ONE), racial abuse (AN AMERICAN SOLDIER), poverty and the cult of celebrity (ANNA NICOLE), identity and the internet (TWO BOYS), and more. Now you’re saying ‘but but but those weren’t the social issues I meant!’. You’re also trying to claim that the Met (TWO BOYS), LA (DOG DAYS) and WNO (AN AMERICAN SOLDIER) aren’t ‘major houses’. Those goalposts must be getting awfully heavy.

      • redbear

        A few days ago the leading French evening news had a feature on the police officer who stood on the hood of a car and pumped 15 rounds into the probably dead body of a fleeing unarmed black couple. The windshield photo and other photos were shown. This would be incomprehensible for Europe. The number of bullets in the body were probably more than several European countries fired in a year. In 1980 the rate of infant mortality was about the same in the US and Germany. Today US babies die at twice the rate. Now I know that dead babies hold less interest than Anna Nicole’s wrestling match with poverty but this death rate was identified by a paper by the University of Chicago, USC and MIT as “driven by inequality.” This means new and dramatically increased poverty for the underclasses. Now I know you are doing fine, armerjacquino, and all your friends think Two Boys is real social commentary but you should understand that there are others who have a different sense of morality and justice.

        • If you’d like there to be an opera about police misconduct, perhaps you should write one yourself.

          Folks who whinge on the subject “Why isn’t there an opera about X?” really are quite useless.

          • redbear

            Why don’t you read what you are referencing. You assume everyone here is as dumb as you? The police were chasing three teenagers who were running. No, they did not shoot. The teenagers climbed a very high fence with clear warning signs into a EDF electric power station. The police were accused of endangering their lives by not immediately calling EDF and having the electricity cut off to the region it served while the area was searched. That was there supposed crime. They testified that they looked over the fence for the kids in the power station (twice) and concluded that they had left. If you equate this with the systematic killing of unarmed black people, you are pathetically sick.

            • redbear

              Two of the three kids were electrocuted, the third was seriously injured.

            • redbear

              An hour after the police were there.

            • First, drop the ad hominems. This is not a playground.

              Second, you are perfectly well aware that the referenced incident was the proximate cause for a couple weeks of rioting among immigrant communities across France, who were complaining about a long history of maltreatment by the police.

            • This is as off topic as I can imagine. If you want to do a free-form rant, then start your own blog, because I’m not going to let you do it here. This is your last warning.

            • redbear

              Got it chief. Opera is in no way connected with the real world. Those are the rules on this blog.

            • manou

              “Passer pour un idiot aux yeux d’un imbécile est une volupté de fin gourmet.”

            • Fine, redbear, take week on moderation to reflect on how an American has discriminated against you.

        • armerjacquino

          You know the square root of fuck all about how I’m doing, or what my friends are like, or my views on social injustice, or what I do about them. Please don’t pretend otherwise.

          Making assumptions of political complacency because someone disagrees with you about opera really is the most arrogant trick you’ve pulled yet. It must be a wonderful world in your head, where nobody else is educated and you’re the only person who cares about poverty or injustice.

          • redbear

            How can I tell except what I can understand by what you write here. BTW the new opera in Washington was not in the opera house but the Terrasse theater (which seats 513), and the LA one was not in the Dorothy Chandler. Two Boys was in the main house because the NYC management does not have a small hall available. They should, of course. It was you who held out the operas I mentioned as examples of what you consider politically or socially relevant. I actually have to admit that the record in Europe is also slim but not approaching zero like we see in America. America is in crisis, “On nearly all indicators of mortality, survival and life expectancy, the United States ranks at or near the bottom among high-income countries.” This is not me speaking but the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. And a hungry guy in a dog suit showing up in a future world isn’t my idea of incisive social commentary.

            • armerjacquino

              You’re right, you can’t tell. And yet that didn’t stop you saying that you knew.

              I’m going to leave you to your ranting now. You asked for social issues. We gave you poverty and the compromises of routes out of it,, child safety online, transphobia, LGBT rights, racism and more. You sneered at them.

            • la vociaccia

              And a hungry guy in a dog suit showing up in a future world isn’t my idea of incisive social commentary.

              You sound like tons of fun

            • What you’re looking for is more operas that mindlessly attack the United States of America. Good luck with that.

            • A suitable opera about brave resistance to the American Imperialist Dogs. (In case time stamp doesn’t work, Americans appear at 75m38s)

            • ianw2

              Even if someone did write you an opera about the US’ shocking infant mortality rate, I have a funny feeling that unless you had full artistic control it wouldn’t meet your ideological purity test.

            • Krunoslav

              And where is the opera about the Everglades being overrun by Burmese pythons??? They are destroying the native species included copperheads and, um, cadenheads.

        • 98rsd

          It’s a shame you can’t care--or better yet, do something to help remedy the situations you care about--without sounding so smug and superior.

    • laddie

      You forgot to mention our problematic immigration policy and then you forgot to mention Santa Fe’s somewhat interesting production depicting Carmen as a coyote smuggling Mexicans into the U.S.A.

  • Albertine

    re: le Roi Arthus ,NWP-Paris, I read your review (we left at the interval) with great interest and I mostly agree with your comments, having seen the ptoduction on May 22nd; thank you for a great review, I hope the culturebox transmission might enlighten me further.

    • Albertine

      Sorry for the typing error: NPW-Paris ,of course

    • Thank you for the kind words. Of course, we didn’t leave at the interval!

  • Albertine

    Come to that (we left etc) great title for a blogspot, too!

    • I owe it to a friend. I was just about to leave a Pelléas at the Salle Favart when he said “You should call your blog We Left At The Interval” -- so I did.

      • It would have been better if he’d said “You should call your blog 000 We Left At The Interval” -- I’d have been at the top of all the lists…