Thursday, March 03, 2011


I’ve been blogging for over six years. When I began, I think the main purpose of my writing was to exorcise my musical demons, of which I have many. I flung advice around left and right to anyone lying in my path.

It couldn’t be helped. I feel reading these entries only slightly embarrassed. The worst was my repeated cracks about Susan Graham’s French. I learn things every day as a result of this new musical obsession, and one result of this learning is that I can no longer hear what I was worrying about with Susan. So I was a jerk. As I said, it can’t be helped.

I really do try to give only good advice. I feel the appearance of the opera Anna Nicole was a direct result of my advice that opera is a chick flick.

Blogging appears to be working. Insecurities and resentments are replaced by a passion to consume everything musical. I passionately try to find the next big thing, for instance. My track record is pretty good in that regard.

My demons are at least at bay. As I become more familiar with the lives of professional singers, I realize more than just my physical inadequacies as a singer. I see more vividly every day how little I could have stood such a life. For one thing you have to stand quietly while everyone tells you what to do. If there is one single thing I could never do, this has to be it. I was far better suited to an environment where I threw tantrums until I got what I wanted. And no, I don't know why I wasn't fired. I attribute this to the fact that I made decisions when no one else wanted to.

I’m doing better at sticking to things I actually know about instead of giving advice to composers. I only got off onto that track because there seems to be no one else doing it. I’ll use this opportunity to summarize: opera should be fun. Write an opera that’s fun. That’s why people like Nixon. It’s a lot of fun.

I argue a lot for phrasing the music. That was my problem with the recent Bach concert. It was plainly obvious that far more time was spent in rehearsal making sure the singers used proper German pronunciation of Latin--in a piece that was probably never performed in Bach's lifetime and therefore included no pronouncing of Latin whatsoever--than was spent finding the musical phrasing of the pieces. In fact to all appearances no time was spent on phrasing at all.

But I'm not going to decide for you how to do it. You won't get from me that this way is right and this other one is not. Find it in your own heart and soul, but find it.

So the demons are conquered through the knowledge that writing about music is probably where I fit best in the scheme of things, and in particular writing about music in a context where no editor comes along to fix me up, round off my rough edges and make me like everyone else. I remember when I was a freshman in college, an English teacher advised me to become a writer about music. And so I have.

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