Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
There's a Difference
I've been thinking about trying to understand how the non-classical music patron hears classical music.
I say I've been thinking about it because I'm not sure how understanding it will help me proselytize, I mean, apologize for classical music.
I have recently made the acquaintance of a complete classical music neophyte who has become intimately involved with classical music.
Tim's first experience with opera was on stage in Turandot with San Diego Opera this January. He's currently on stage in Faust and later this year in Carmen.
Tim is a supernumerary or super or extra. Supers at the opera often jokingly refer to themselves as props. Supers don't sing, or speak but often act.
In Turandot Tim's job was to come on stage bearing an enormous sharpening stone along with three other supers clad only in loin clothes. Welcome to classical music Tim.
I caught him after rehearsal the other night next to the ship fountain in front of The Civic Theater.
"Tim, you're brand new to opera. Have you noticed a difference from Turandot to Faust?"
"Faust seems to be darker and more Gothic. Especially the set."
I agreed but I was trying to get at the difference in the musical style.
"The music? I can't really tell much of a difference."
I'm throwing Tim under the bus a little bit here because we haven't heard Faust with the orchestra yet.
There is a big difference between the music in Turandot and the music in Faust but it isn't obvious.
Just like there's a big difference between the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean but we have to know what to listen for.
I can't say how many times I've heard people say that classical music all sounds the same and on top of that, it's boring.
Classical music is boring but people love the Star Wars soundtrack or the Gladiator soundtrack or Batman? If that's the case, they could very well love classical music if they knew where to start.
If you don't know where to start, go YouTube "Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 finale", click on the first link with Barenboim conducting, turn it up and try to take a nap.
This is music my mom used to yell at me to turn down because it was fraying her nerves.