I almost didn’t post a chapter today. I wrote one yesterday and decided that it was a big, fat infodump. I hate reading them, but I find myself writing them all too often.
People don’t like information. A while ago, I said that I started a blog about expertise and elitism and didn’t post it. I’ve decided that it is time. Just one word about it is that I wrote it as the Covid crisis began, so there are some dates in it that are irrelevant now.
It’s confusing, isn’t it. They trot out the experts, but not for too long.
Experts give too much information; they give the facts, ones that those in power don’t want to hear. The world depends on experts, but they don’t want to hear them. Our leaders want soundbites, they want to calm the markets, but they foment hysteria.
Don’t test anyone, it will raise our numbers. Don’t let them in. Don’t go there. Don’t take any chances, or don’t take the chances we don’t want you to take. Don’t go to conferences, don’t go to sports events, but by all means come to my needless election rally, and don’t forget to wear the hat. It will protect you from all evils, just like it has protected me.
Don’t listen to them. I’ll make you safe, and while I’m at it, I’ve promised more tax cuts. This is the perfect time for them. I’ll put more money in your pockets, even those of you who aren’t affected. It’s an election year and my big fat pockets are open to all of you.
Don’t look. Nothing to see here.
Forget about climate change, we’ll drill for more oil. That will make up for it. Experts schmexperts. Why care for ecology when the stock market is dipping? Gotta keep the fat cats fat, so they can give you more money.
Wait! They’re giving me more money? I’ll believe it when I see it.
People don’t go to the opera or the symphony because it is elitist. It’s so expensive that ordinary people can’t afford it.
Lakers vs. Nets tomorrow night (Mar 18?):
Lowest ticket $84, Highest ticket $827
Chicago Symphony, Mar. 20:
Lowest ticket $46, Highest ticket $210 (not including discount schemes)
But why see one of the best orchestras in the world when you can see LeBron play? Why sit and hope the Lakers win when you can get a winning concert every week? There are no losers.
Why listen to a concert of classical music? I don’t understand it.
When was the last time you went to one? If you went to more, then there would be a better chance of understanding it. Did you understand basketball the first time you saw it? Do you get culturally uplifted at a Lakers game? Do you get goosebumps?
But Blake Shelton tickets start at $26, you say.
Those are about half a mile away. All you are hearing is the sound system. The highest ones (that are still available) are $187 and they aren’t even on the main floor.
There isn’t a sound system in Symphony Hall, at least not for a CSO concert. You are hearing the real thing, and you can hear a pin drop from the back row. Is that elitist?
We label things we don’t understand as elitist. Did you ever attempt to understand it? At the beginning of the 1900’s opera was the most common music listened to (on disk), and remained high on the list for a few decades. Why don’t we listen to it now?
It’s old music.
Not all of it, and in fact if you haven’t heard it before, it is new to you.
But isn’t it a whole bunch of hysterical acrobatic singing?
I wouldn’t say hysterical. You might think that some new opera’s are, but the more you learn the history, the repertory, the more you understand it. What is acrobatic or hysterical about this?
It’s from the mid 1980’s. Let’s talk about it. The style/genre is minimalism, which is a repetitive style with simple content, not unlike popular music. This is a very beautiful opera, both in action and melody, yet it is tragic. It is about the fall of Egyptian civilization. The singing (in ancient Egyptian) is very unusual here, the man is a countertenor, the highest male voice (think Bee Gee’s but exquisitely trained), and the woman is a contralto, the lowest female voice (a highly-trained Nina Simone). The man often sings above the woman, giving it a completely ethereal quality, unlike something you would hear in popular music. This is a fantastic student production. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were pros? Sublime.
But there is no action.
Correction. There is little action. The words go by very slowly, therefore so does the action. How different is that from going to a Blake Shelton concert? There is no action. He stands there and sings. He might tap his foot, play a guitar, or sway a little. No action, though. Just words.
Something like this?
It’s an excerpt from an opera. No action, but, lot’s of action. It’s funny as hell. Watch all of this one, if you watch any of these. Hysterical, yes, hysterically funny? You bet. It’s modern opera.
Here is one more short excerpt from an amazing opera:
Her lover has just died, and she is singing about her love for him or possibly for God (not clear). She is about to commit herself to a convent in grief for him. This is about as dramatic as it gets without any real action.
Except for maybe Poulenc’s Dialogue of the Carmelites, when all the nuns have their heads chopped off at the end. I can’t not cry at the end. A YouTube video doesn’t do it justice.
Don’t even think about going through a car wash during that scene, if it is on the radio. I did. I bawled (and it was in French. I couldn’t understand a word).
Fffffffffoooounk. A head rolls away.
Not elitism. Sheer beauty. High art.