Jourdain argues so well in his brain book that we each have our own unique perspective on the music we hear that it causes me to doubt any one person's ability to describe and evaluate music for other listeners. Maybe it is all just a matter of taste. Which is in turn a matter of ones own early life experience.
But when faced with ugly melodies in a featureless musical landscape, a description which for my ears applies equally to Streetcar and Liaisons, what is one to think? In both cases the subject matter is ugly. Does an ugly plot justify ugly music?
I don't want the music to just be there creating an atmosphere, like so much elevator music. I want characteristics to emerge. I want something going on in the music that engages my attention. I want opera to be about music, not the other way round.