Tuesday, January 10, 2006


There are a variety of ways to look at opera:

1. As an entertainment medium like movies, television and Broadway shows.
2. As a social environment for the upper classes--both financial and intellectual
3. As an art form
4. As a place to go hear great singing.
5. As theater with singing.
6, I'm sure the list could be longer.

My son puts item 2 at the top. He thinks a lot that goes on at the opera is strictly to separate you from the ruling class.

I just go there for fun, so I like a lot going on. Item four is always tops with me, followed closely by item 1. The Ghosts of Versailles is more fun than Tristan and Isolde. Though I find myself suddenly entertained.


Anonymous said...

> ...there are a variety of ways to >look at opera:

>1. As an entertainment medium ...
>2. As a social environment for the >upper classes--both financial and >intellectual
>3. As an art form
>4. As a place to go hear great >singing.
>5. As theater with singing.
>6 ...

>My son puts item 2 at the top. He >thinks a lot that goes on at the >opera is strictly to separate you >from the ruling class.

I am having a bit of trouble with figuring out the antecedent for the pronoun "you" - does he think that it is the ruling class that goes to the opera, and thereby separates itself from "us" - or that the ruling class DOESN'T go to the opera?

Few politicians (Rudy Guliani is the ONLY one I could name) are opera buffs There are some of the very rich who are - e.g., Mrs Bass, who with her husband just gave the Met $25 million

I think the truth of it is that whoever it is that rules us (other than those of us who vote) are as little interested in opera as the population at large

Dr.B said...

I didn’t say that I agreed with my son, and I’m sure he would do a much better job of defending his idea.

Historically I think this was an issue. Opera was associated with the King or Prince in most of Europe. In France Louis XIV was the main sponsor of opera, in fact danced in Lully’s ballets in his youth. Opera was often viewed as an enhancement of the King’s superiority and dignity. Thus the pomposity of some Baroque music. The Austrian King attended Mozart’s performances and critiqued his compositions. “Too many notes,” was his most famous quote on this or in fact any subject.

As we get closer to the present, this changes. Today there is still quite a lot of intellectual snobbery that surrounds the performance of opera, but increasingly it is more an intellectual than a political snobbery. No one thinks they need opera to get elected. They might think they needed Willie Nelson or Norah Jones, but not opera. In America politicians practice a kind of anti-snobbery.

The changing place of opera in society is one of the factors that puts it in danger today.