Tuesday, August 4, 2009

a rethink

You know there is nothing wrong with Opera Companies looking for the next Franz von Suppe rather than the next Beethoven. Yet the theatrical and musical skills necessary to create a successful popular work do require some knowledge of what opera is and was. Oh and the skills too.

With theatrical skills unlearned composers make the same mistakes again and again. This is the legacy of American opera. True, composers with the ambition to create opera have done no better than the pop stars. Ambition, opportunity, and ability seldom seem to coalesce into results. For me this is simple.

This is because some folks have a personal ambition to compose an opera not a musical one.

Of course pandering is cheaper than education.

These day's the music seems to be just an after thought in opera. The emphasis on the visual and political statement over the music itself is of course just a trend. But why? I remember reading how an art gallery owner threw out a rich philistine who wanted a painting that matched his drapes (or was it something that fit his wall?) and how another gallery snapped him up and gave him what he wanted and also what the gallery wanted to sell. Since this person was a blank slate they educated him to want what they were selling. Opera these days is no different. I'm afraid that the American view, unlike Europe and Asia, still holds that opera just can't be for everyone. So they focus on their target market, that is the art crowd, the folks who might contribute money. For them, since it is a problem, they simply define the importance of music in opera out of existence.

Arguably the results are, perhaps, no worse than in any other decade.
Everyone's happy especially if the drapes match.

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