This Huffington Post article about 14 artists who are transforming the future of opera has been crawling around my Facebook and Twitter. First of all, we get the "grand opera is dead" discussion from the author, followed by a reference to falling asleep in middle school during a La Boheme field trip.
The tone of a lot of these writers is that most people fall asleep at opera and symphony concerts. They write as if music halls are napping facilities. This worn-out, trite, pedestrian joke is as old as classical music itself, just ask Haydn. To read yet another article that references "opera napping" makes me start to yawn.
Let’s get one thing straight, none of these 14 clips are opera. Not even close. In fact, it’s all I can do to maintain a civil tone.
All of these clips are “creative”, some less so than others, but not one of them has the rigor to be opera. The thing about opera is that it's effing hard... Hard to create and hard to perform. And yes, hard to sit through when it's mediocre.
Every single one of these clips is mediocre and I could barely make it through a few minutes of them. What would it be like to sit through two hours of one these? I have no words.
I like the mushroom guy’s voice but it's miked and recorded and therefore subject to any number of manipulations. Opera is always unplugged.
As Greer Grimsley once said, “Microphones aren’t part of the artform.” All of these clips are miked which makes none of them opera.
There, that was a civil tone, but I find it necessary to take the gloves off and go bare-knuckles for a while. These “artists” are transforming the future of opera? Their bowels also transform delicious food into big steaming piles of you-know-what.
These people are transforming opera? They don’t have the juice to transform opera. It would be like me claiming this column is transforming the future of musicology. It’s just not true.
Let’s talk about something that actually transformed music. Better yet, let’s allow Stephen Fry to talk about it, in the embedded video.
Stephen Fry - Tristan Chord
The Two-headed Calf's opera in two parts: You, My Mother
Here’s one of the 14 artists who are “transforming opera” now, also embedded.
This piece defines itself quite well when she says, “I’m kind of sleepy and uninspired...”
Wagner had the ability to change opera and music forever. The people in this Huffington Post piece do not.
I can already hear a few arguments. “Well, people thought Wagner was terrible when he wrote his operas. How is this different?” It’s night-and-day-different and we’ll talk about that soon.
Another argument might throw up freedom of expression as a virtue. “Would you rather have the censorship of Stalin and Hitler instead?”.
First of all Stalin and Hitler are names which should not be used lightly considering the scale of their atrocities but would I prefer some censorship?
Short answer? Yes, yes I would but I think the extreme obscurity of all these “artists” is censorship enough and we’ll definitely talk about that soon too.