Monday, July 13, 2009

Memo to San Francisco Opera Copy-Editors 2

Found in email from the company announcing the availability of single tickets. If this is an accurate representation of what the company regards as "new," we are in big trouble. I've deleted the promotional copy, but keep an eye on my commentary [inside the square brackets].
New to Opera? We recommend the following time-honored favorites:
  • Il Trovatore
  • Il Trittico
  • The Daughter of the Regiment
  • The Abduction from the Seraglio [described as a laugh-out-loud comedy]
  • The Girl of the Golden West
A Seasoned Opera Fan? Enjoy the many new operas we present this season:
  • Salome [premiered in 1906, last produced in SF in the 1996-97 season]
  • Otello [premiered in 1887, last produced in SF in the 2002-03 season]
  • Faust [premiered in God knows when, last produced in SF in the 1995-96 season]
  • Die Walkuere [premiered in 1870, last produced in 1999 during the most recent Ring cycles]
I really, really want to know what exactly is going on here. The second list isn't new productions, because Fanciulla, Trittico, and Trovatore are all new productions. The two biggest rarities of the season, Trittico and Fanciulla, are in the New to Opera list, while Faust, the most deadly dull work surviving in the repertory, is considered appropriate for seasoned fans. Who wrote this copy, anyway? It's a big turnoff to receive patronizing and inaccurate email from San Francisco Opera.


pjwv said...

What's going on? A more-or-less desperate attempt to make up categories that sound exciting. I'm waiting for them to say something like: "Experienced opera goer? Then you already know what you want!" (Like flying to NYC to hear From the House of the Dead.)

Lisa Hirsch said...

Hahaha, yeah.

Brian said...

I think you deserve an award just for actually reading this copy to begin with. I can't delete this spam fast enough from my inbox. Which begs the question. Who exactly do these copy writers and editors think are reading these e-mails to begin with? They got the e-mails from somewhere to begin with and I wager most of the sources of those addresses are from folks that would never need this kind of advice in a million years.

(BTW, just got my House of the Dead tickets today in the mail. Hurray!)

pjwv said...

Well, I imagine someone might find them useful. That someone is not me, so I tend to skim or just delete.

Brian, did you subscribe? I thought single tickets weren't on sale yet.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You could unsubscribe!

I read because you never know when they'll send a half-price ticket offer to something you want to see. I had an incredible seat last year for Die tote Stadt for $100, for example.

That said, I'm a compulsive copy-editor, so I have to read to the end.

Paul H. Muller said...

Summer interns?

Well Lisa, you're just gonna have to go down there and straighten them out.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You're on to something there, Paul. More or less the only job that could pry me away from my current job & employer would be the chance to work in some interesting capacity (not fundraising, not accounting, not real estate or insurance) at SF Opera.

Henry Holland said...

Faust, the most deadly dull work surviving in the repertory

Clemenza di Tito and the whole Baroque rep would like to have a word with you.

This post reminds me of a phone call I took at work last year. It was the Los Angeles Opera trying to get me to subscribe.

Me: You'd have to pay ME to get me to subscribe
Her: [silence, this obviously wasn't in their script] Um, why is that, sir?
Me: Last year, you did 3 Puccini operas!
Them: But Puccini is very popular!

She literally couldn't understand why I wasn't willing to give her my credit card number to subscribe when I only found one production a year interesting (that year it was Der Vogel).

I will say, the mind-numbingly dull seasons at the Gockley SFO have saved me the expense of flights/hotels/meals. The 2004 Le Grande Macabre was the last interesting thing for me they've done there and even that was a bit of a miss as they used the inferior revised version.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Are you saying you like Faust better than any opera seria you've ever heard??

That is sad, if true. :)

You didn't come up for Die tote Stadt? That was a real wow, fine performances of a terrific piece.

D. said...

Il Trovatore may be a "time-honored favorite," but I wouldn't drop it on an opera neo. (A music major of my acquaintance was turned off opera by either Trovatore or Coronation of Poppaea(?) as his first opera. And no, I don't remember why a music major had managed not to be exposed to opera.)

Faust might be easier for a new listener, if only because the plot is straightforward and there's a bit of spectacle in the middle. (Also the bass gets the tenor.) I agree that it is dull, but then, I grew up with it.

And what does it say that the "Seasoned Opera Fan" is presumed not to want to see anything brought out after 1906?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Why wouldn't you drop it on an opera neo? One person's experience is not universal. Trovatore is musically about 20 times better than Faust, however murky the plot.

> presumed not to want to see
> anything brought out after 1906.

Since the most recent opera in the upcoming season is from 1918, that's not particularly relevant. The season assumes that no one wants to see anything more modern than Salome or Fanciulla, which is more modern in style than Trittico.

Henry Holland said...

Are you saying you like Faust better than any opera seria you've ever heard??

That is sad, if true. :)

[put up shields] Yes. I've been to 2 baroque operas, both at LAO: Handel's Xerxes and one of the Monteverdi pieces. Excruciating, I couldn't wait for them to end; I only stayed because I refuse to crawl over people to flee when a performance is going on.

I simply find no appeal in an endless series of florid arias for 3-4 hours, with only the occasional duet or ensemble to break up the tedium, my inner ear starts yearning for variety. When the second countertenor gets six arias, that's not a good thing.

Think of how most people react to Die Soldaten or Lear or one of Birtwistle's operas, that's me with the pre-Mozart stuff! :-)

You didn't come up for Die tote Stadt? That was a real wow, fine performances of a terrific piece

D'oh! Yeah, I did, I made a day trip out of it. Very nice performance and a good production too. Jonas Kaufman is singing Paul in Frankfurt in December, I hope a recording, legal or otherwise, surfaces.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Ah, well, chacun a son gout. I love Handel and Monteverdi!

Henry Holland said...

^^ Yeah, opera is a big tent, even with my total lack of interest in pre-Pelleas stuff (except for Wagner and Berlioz), I still have a huge amount of rep to dig through, there's always some obscure German composer who wrote something in 1922 to seek out.