Author Topic: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die  (Read 4459 times)

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Offline springrite

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Re: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2019, 10:16:51 AM »
From Land of Smiles to The Pearl Fisher, Aida and Eugene Onegin, every opera performance in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities in China are always sold out and the opera-goers go wild with enthusiasm. I heard it is similar in Japan and Korea.
Classical music now is bigger in the east than in the US at least. It will stay alive here for a while longer.
Maybe, just maybe, the fact that the people here haven't been exposed to it for decades is a factor. I can imagine many of the enthusiastic audience are being exposed to opera for the first time.
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Offline jwinter

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Re: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2019, 10:42:47 AM »
I was countering what I perceived as another example of a common fallacy, that one's deeply personal responses have any validity beyond one's own person. That is, my personal responses are not valid for anyone but myself. If my personal responses are based on experience rather than hearsay or popular opinion, the experience might be said to have some weight, but you were referring to a situation in which hearsay and popular opinion have ruled for far too long.

In that situation, how easy is it to have such a thing as "actual exposure to the art"? One brings one's biasses and prejudices into the experience, and those biasses and prejudices affect how the experience will go. I was extremely lucky in growing up almost completely isolated from anyone else who liked "classical music," so I could experience the things themselves with very little overlay from outside. There were program notes on the backs of the lps I acquired, of course, but I learned very early that those notes corresponded very little with what I was hearing, and I gave up reading them almost entirely. When I first started listening to music of the twentieth century, I knew nothing of the standard canards about it that litter discussion boards on line. They were there, lurking in the program notes I had learned to eschew and in the opinions of other classical fans. I came to know of them almost instantly after my first exposure to twentieth century music, but even almost instantly was too late. I was well and truly hooked and have remained so for almost forty years--forty very lovely and delightful years listening to very lovely and delightful music, sullied only by the incessant carpings of (some of) those around me who were convinced that the musics I found so easy to like were unlistenable in the extreme, were the cause of audiences abandoning concert halls, were the literal death of good music--and by the persistent perception that my simply liking this "horrible crap" was a personal insult to (and even a personal attack of) those who disliked it.

Heigh ho.

The music remains, however, and it's still loads of fun.

https://vimeo.com/202616984

Thanks for this.  I admit I was being a bit contrarian... obviously my hope was that dropping an Op-Ed from a leading newspaper that essentially states "Classical Music is dead and kinda sucks, discuss" onto a classical music discussion board would promote some fiery and interesting discussion -- happy to see it worked :)

You make some very good points about the difficulties in separating one's honest reaction to a piece of art from all of the received opinion and impressions that inevitably color one's perspective.  I struggle with that myself -- if a certain modern work leaves me cold, how much of that reaction is just my personal taste or preference (one can't love everything), and how much of that is driven by the discomfort of the music not meeting my preconceived notions of what music ought to sound like. 

I don't want to overstate my own biases -- I do love some music that technically goes into the 20th century -- I greatly admire Prokofiev and Mahler, and enjoy quite a bit of Shostokovich (just getting into his string quartets) and Stravinsky.  I like some of the Ligeti I've heard, though I don't claim to understand it.  But I've tried Berg and Schoenberg with no success.  It's a journey.

What I struggle with in this article is this...  I agree that the public representation of classical music and opera through performances and recordings needs to evolve.  We do need to shift the balance of attention back towards music composed in the last hundred years; and it seems obvious that if we don't do this, we risk the music becoming an antiquarian activity rather than a vibrant art form.  But at the same time... for me, if I'm honest, given a choice between tickets to see a new 21st century opera or Don Giovanni, I'm picking Mozart.  My choice might be different if I lived in a big city like New York and had the money and opportunity to see a live performance every weekend, but I don't.  It's a relatively rare and special occasion for me, and so I would go with the comfort of the known quantity. 


I realize that this makes me part of the problem, but at the same time I don't think I'm at all unusual... if anything I'm far more knowledgeable (dim though I am) and think more deeply about music than the average person, simply due to spending some of my time at a forum like this.  If I'm this way, how much stronger are the barriers against modern music in the wider population? 


So how does the trend get reversed?   Can promoting more modern music help all of it to thrive in the modern marketplace?  If so, how?  Or are we stuck listening to dead Austrian guys in powdered wigs* forever?



* Please don't hit me, Gurn!  :)
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline Cato

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Re: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die
« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2019, 11:16:16 AM »
Well, according to your own experience, Zimmermann, Stravinsky and Carter give those teenager girls a hard run for their money...  :laugh:

 ;)    A hard run?  Welll...   There is a definite difference in the enthusiasm level.   8)

From Land of Smiles to The Pearl Fisher, Aida and Eugene Onegin, every opera performance in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities in China are always sold out and the opera-goers go wild with enthusiasm. I heard it is similar in Japan and Korea.
Classical music now is bigger in the east than in the US at least. It will stay alive here for a while longer.
Maybe, just maybe, the fact that the people here haven't been exposed to it for decades is a factor. I can imagine many of the enthusiastic audience are being exposed to opera for the first time.

Excellent to know this, Springrite!  Were such operas banned under Mao Tse-Tung?

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2019, 11:18:08 PM »
I realize that this makes me part of the problem

You're not part of any problem, because there is no problem. You like what you like and spend your own time and money accordingly. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with that. Actually, that's what we all do. End of story.
I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts. --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Ken B

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Re: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die
« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2019, 03:58:16 PM »
I don't think of myself as an opera person really but some of my favorite music is in underperformed operas. We had a thread of favorite operas with oodles of good things that could be performed. I agree with whoever said above that companies might find the audience for a wider repertoire bigger than they think.

The article is a farrago of non sequiturs.
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for life.

Offline betterthanfine

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Re: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2019, 01:35:03 PM »
You're not part of any problem, because there is no problem. You like what you like and spend your own time and money accordingly. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with that. Actually, that's what we all do. End of story.
True, but what you like depends for a big part on what you are exposed to. I was in Poland recently with some colleagues who are all in the music industry, and we got a tour through a major new concert hall in Wroclaw. Our guide, a manager for the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, explained to us that they have quite a large new music audience in the city. She attributed this to the fact that Poland has spawned a few of the biggest names in modern music: Penderecki, Lutoslawski and Gorecki. So yes, you like what you like, but it sure depends on what you're used to hearing.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Washington Post Op-Ed: To save opera, we have to let it die
« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2019, 02:14:04 AM »
True, but what you like depends for a big part on what you are exposed to. I was in Poland recently with some colleagues who are all in the music industry, and we got a tour through a major new concert hall in Wroclaw. Our guide, a manager for the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, explained to us that they have quite a large new music audience in the city. She attributed this to the fact that Poland has spawned a few of the biggest names in modern music: Penderecki, Lutoslawski and Gorecki. So yes, you like what you like, but it sure depends on what you're used to hearing.

Good point. What I meant, though, was that there's nothing problematic about one's finding one's own comfort zone and mainly sticking to it (preferably, but not necessarily, after being exposed to a wide array of genres, styles and periods). After all, music is a time and money consumming pastime, and they are both in short supply, aren't they?
I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts. --- Rachmaninoff