Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Opera Wednesday

ESPN is the new home of Formula One in the United States, and based on reports they plan to reduce coverage on television to just the race, eliminating qualifying and practice coverage from television in order to push over the top services, such as the one Liberty Media is attempting to push worldwide, in an attempt to believe online streaming, not television to the masses, is the trend, pushing what I have called television for elites.  While the coverage will be the Sky coverage from the UK, it will be jarring to see F1 coverage drastically reduced from FP2, Qualifying, a one-hour pre-race, the race, and a post-race show, to simply just the race.  US fans will be interested to see how David Croft's style compares to other well known US motorsport legend Mike Joy, multi-series commentator Rick Schweiger, and others.  I expect considerably fewer books, notes, and observations with this style.  Without a Steve Matchett, Steve Letarte, or Larry McReynolds style voice in the booth, how will it go when the lights go out in a few weeks' time?

That leads to my second thought of Formula One's chequered past, which begins the subject of today's Opera Wednesday.  Remember when it seemed every car in Formula One was sponsored by tobacco?  We saw Marlboro, Gitanes, Camel, Barclay, Rothmans, Lucky Strike, Gold Leaf, John Player, Mild Seven, Gauloises, West, Benson & Hedges, among the notable brands until the mid-2000's when tobacco slowly but surely became a prohibited sponsor in the sport for safety reasons.  This transitions into the winner's podiums in Formula One, where the tune that is played in the Winner's Circle as the drivers and team principal spray champagne but before the unilateral interviews begin is that of an opera featuring women who work in a tobacco plant, no less.  While Formula One has banned tobacco advertising, the music played before the winner's interview at a race is that of women working in a tobacco factory!

And of course, there is an opera that celebrates women in a tobacco factory from Georges Bizet.  Indeed we know the tune, and there inlies the subject of today's Opera Wednesday -- Carmen, and its established overture.

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