Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quick Notes

By Drew

  • At The New Criterion, James Panero gives us further evidence (as if we needed it) of the decline and fall of Western civilization. He brings us Jay Nordlinger’s report from the Salzburg Festival, which features (surprise!) yet another example of the infamous Regietheater (Director’s Theater) we wrote about here a couple of weeks ago.

    This time, the opera in question is Der Freischütz, by Carl Maria von Weber. According to Nordlinger, it’s a Christian tale, "But how do you handle a Christian tale on a continent whose elite culture is decidedly post-Christian, to say the least?" Well, here is how Falk Richter, a director from Hamburg, handled it:

  • At the end of Act II, we have some hot nude models, parading around in high heels. They kneel down to take communion, in a kind of black mass. And the characters now and then leave German for English, speaking words we don't exactly expect in "Der Freischütz." One of Samiel's acolytes declares, "Money is everything." And John Relyea's Kaspar speaks some of the pivotal words of the opera — Mr. Richter's opera, that is:

    "Destruction, death, corruption, rape, war, invasion, burnt children, low taxes, and religion — that is what we would kill for; that is what our hearts yearn for."

    Yes, low taxes, to go with burned children and religion.

    Is it any wonder more people don't go to the opera?

  • Speaking of which, Greg Sandow frequently explores the future of classical music. Does it have one, unless it adapts to the necessities of modern culture? This piece (and its comments) continues a fascinating discussion on the merits of classical music vs. pop. I'd like to weigh in on it myself, but it takes a lot more time than I have right now. But I think you might know where I come down.

  • Have you ever wondered what your favorite composers would look like if they lived in the The Simpsons universe? That's the hilarious question Drew McManus (like the name!) asks at Adaptistration - take the quiz and find out for yourself. And while you're at it, follow the link to this piece by Drew as he goes back to a classic (and classical music) Simpsons with the immortal line, "The Philharmonic is playing Gustav Mahler in abject squalor!" The entire episode is full of very, very funny scenes, such as: "In an effort to keep the people from leaving the hall one of the more dedicated Cultural Advisory Board members rises up to say "Don't leave now, the next piece is an atonal medley by Phillip Glass" at which point the audience stampedes for the exits (including the orchestra musicians).

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