Confusion of Media

May 1, 2009

brief_encounter1 I had the incomparable privilege of being present this evening at the world premiere of a new opera by André Previn. That it knocked my socks off, musically and dramatically, was not in the least overshadowed by something that I nevertheless feel compelled to comment on.

After an amplified announcement from a disembodied General Director (the estimable Anthony Freud) welcomed us and implored us to turn off our digital noisemakers (this grating exercise being prevalent even in such venerable venues as the Liceu of Barcelona), we were treated to what a colleague assured me was a full two minutes of scrolled credits acknowledging sponsors of various kinds and degrees on the supertitle screen. It was exactly like the introduction to a television show, except for the fact that it occurred in silence.

While generous donors are always worthy of gratitude, this really, really seemed to go too far. The word vulgar doesn’t cover it. To say, “Oh, well, what do you expect in Houston?” would be equally facile and inadequate. This is, after all, the opera company that has given us a musical and theatrical flowering of the late efforts of one of the most remarkable and versatile musicians of our time on the occasion of his 80th birthday celebrations. So they cannot be blithely dismissed. But, oh …

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