Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is Opera Really the NASCAR of the Arts World?

Via the blog Gawker comes this commentary on the Met's opening night of Tosca which ends:

"Though the opera audience is supposed to be the highest of the highbrow and the audience is usually littered with society dowagers and other keepers of the cultural flame, it has a long tradition of verbally roasting its stars and directors.

And for many that is the appeal. The sets, costumes, and performers are held to such a high standard by a small cabal of dedicated enthusiasts, that even the slightest misstep or seeming innovation is shouted off the stage like a pitchy belter at an American Idol audition. When everyone knows the plot of the melodramatic tale unfolding on stage, they need the looming specter of disaster to keep them interested. The only thing that separates these highbrow patrons from their lowbrow brethren waiting to inhale the scent of rubber burning on asphalt is the superiority they feel about their artistic pursuits."

A comment echoed in this morning's New York Times by The Met's Peter Gelb who commented:

"“There are people in that audience who came there expecting not to like anything."

Perhaps we're naive here at Aria Serious, but we always attend opera, live theatre in general, to see artists strive for perfection and not for the spectacle of someone crashing and burning onstage.

Besides, that's what figure skating is for.

I don't think we're in the minority here. I hope.

1 comment:

Susan said...

You're not in the minority. Otherwise, opera companies would put out videos of catastrophic performances, hilarious out-takes and full scale lobby brawls. Which is not such a bad idea, now that I think about it.