June 10, 2012

Peter Gelb, the Met, and other random opera questions...

What would it have accomplished for Opera News to discontinue reviewing Metropolitan Opera productions since the big foo-fa really stemmed from an editorial more than any particular review?

Did Peter Gelb allow the reversal of the ban-on-reviewing because this occured to him as well?

Didn't Jan Peerce have the driest, least impressive top of any "legendary" tenor?

How come people who sit in the last three or four rows of the opera house balcony never seem to feel they should clap when everyone else is clapping?  Do they think "Aaah, nobody's looking at me so I can't be bothered"?

Is it really good Mozartian style to go "off the voice" and shout one's lines unpitched to the extent that Bryn Terfel did as Leporello in the final scene of Don Giovanni in a recent Met radio broadcast?

If Virginia Opera had staged Daniel Catan's Florencia En El Amazonas, as Opera Colorado did this past season in Denver, how many people would have attended?  And how much of a financial bath would we have taken?

And how did Opera Colorado convince their Board of Directors to approve such an obscure piece in this age of financial uncertainty?

Isn't it ironic that, while one can't really compare athletes of the past to today's sports stars because professional sports has changed so much, we can compare opera singers of a half-century ago to Fleming, Netrebko et al because opera is opera and performances are recorded for posterity?

Yet, at the same time, isn't the flaw in the observation above that merely comparing recorded performances fails to take into account acting skills, on-stage charisma and the fact that some voices benefit from the TLC of recording engineers masking weaknesses when heard live?

But even so, don't we still love to make the comparisons?

Are you, like me, waiting to see who the next great American baritone will be to continue the tradition of Tibbett, Warren, Merrill and Milnes for the great Verdian roles?

Did I enjoy the Metropolitan Opera channel on the Sirius satellite radio in the most recent rental car I drove?  Do I wish I could afford to have it installed in my own car?  Or, put another way, is water wet?

Speaking of Don Giovanni, is there a reason that all modern-day conductors take the Don's "champagne aria" (Fin ch'an dal vino) at such a fast tempo that the woodwinds are incapable of executing the ornaments in their parts?  Do instrumentalists play any movements of Mozart's concertos as fast as possible? 

On a related subject, was conductor Erich Leinsdorf double-parked or anxious to get to a hot date when he led a live Metropolitan Opera broadcast performance of Die Walkuere on December 6, 1941?  Is there another explanation for the frantic, breakneck pace of his conducting, which robbed the score of virtually all grandeur, sweep and eloquence?

Doesn't it seem as though most new operas are very, very serious? Where's the Rossini of the New Millenium?

Is it okay for those who don't like the music of  Janáček  to refer to his opera The Makropolis Affair as "The Mo' crap-or-less Affair"?  Or how about "The more-or-less crap affair?"

Since I, Glenn Winters, have the highest regard for Janáček, shouldn't you refrain from getting on my case for the above horrific play on words?  Can you find it in your heart to not post a lambasting comment ripping me a new one?

With a gun at your head, could you define "lambasting"?

Do you understand it doesn't mean "moisturizing a lamb roast by basting with its juices"?

Despite the popular image of opera audiences as being "highbrow", isn't it the truth that a significant percentage of them are fairly "lowbrow" in terms of taste and curiosity, interested only in the musical comfort food of the twenty or so most popular warhorse operas and in the sheer sound of the operatic singing voice?  Haven't my eight seasons of teaching and lecturing to thousands of adults each season about opera convinced me that this is so?  Again, isn't water wet?

Does it bother me that my viral blog post about child prodigies continues to rack up hundreds of page-views weekly, yet the past two months' worth of posts have garnered a couple of dozen hits apiece?  What do you think?  Will I be blogging about this phenomenon in the near future?  Can you spell "yes"?

Why, O why do the masses get so snowed and infatuated with bad amateur opera singers who appear on reality-show talent singing contests?  Does it not occur to them that, seeing as how they like that so durn much, they also might like the pros?

What percentage of the Twittersphere actually clicks on and reads all the links that are posted there?  If all of us Tweeters read all the material appearing there daily, would we have time to do anything else?  Should I be surprised if virtually no one opens up the links I post on Twitter?

On a related note, doesn't a lot of the activity on Twitter consist of 1) butt-kissing of celebs; 2) snarky gossip; and 3) shameless self-promotion?

Finally: if I'm honest, won't I confess that right after posting this I'll go directly to Twitter and find out "what's the haps"?

My new book The Opera Zoo: Singers, Composers and Other Primates is now available from Kendall Hunt Publishing. Order online from amazon.com or at http://www.kendallhunt.com/operazoo or by phone from the Customer Service line at 1-800-344-9034 ext.3020.

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