• Unpopular Opinions About Opera

      0 Bravos & Boos (Comments)

    I can’t believe it… my first opera blog post in a year, now that I’m finally free from the demands of grad school. It’s nothing much, but at least it’s a new start.


    *Don José doesn’t sacrifice everything for Carmen. He loses everything because of his love for Carmen, but not willingly. He’s neither the selfless romantic figure nor the spineless doormat that popular imagination paints him as.


    *La Bohéme is good, but not “the perfect opera,” nor is it the greatest introduction to the genre. I’d just as soon, if not sooner recommend La Traviata, Carmen, or, particularly for the younger set, Hänsel & Gretel or Die Zauberflöte.


    *Susanna isn’t the single smartest character in Le Nozze di Figaro. She, Figaro and the Countess are all three smart in different ways and rely on each other.

    *On the same subject, Le Nozze di Figaro isn’t a perfect feminist opera. It has excellent female characters and a lot of great proto-feminist qualities, of course, but it’s not completely unproblematic from a gender standpoint either. It’s still an 18th century work, after all.


    *Nor are Die Zauberflöte or even Madama Butterfly unredeemable nightmares of racism and sexism. They’re deeply problematic, of course, but as I’ve written before, their race and gender issues are complicated.


    *Donna Anna isn’t “obviously” in love or in lust with Don Giovanni. Exactly how she feels about him and what happened between them offstage is up to the soprano, the director and/or the conductor to decide. No soprano deserves to be lambasted for choosing to portray Anna as completely truthful and innocent.


    *Regietheater and traditional productions both have their place in the modern operatic world. The former isn’t inherently “trash,” nor is the latter inherently “boring” or “passé.”


    *Opera lovers don’t need to divide themselves into warring camps over which singers, conductors, etc. they like best. It’s fully possible to love more than one artist in the same repertoire for different reasons. Yes, even Callas and Sutherland.


    *There’s no wrong way to enjoy opera. Small, intimate venues aren’t the least bit “inferior” to grand Met-like venues, nor are grand Met-like venues “overblown.” College productions and low-budget regional productions can be just as enjoyable as high profile productions, but the latter aren’t inherently “soulless” either. Every type of opera performance has the potential to be great.


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