Mystery score

Mystery score

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Heartless

I have donated back my ticket to Heart of a Soldier. I find it nauseating and exploitive that anyone would think it's appropriate to have an opera about September 11, 2001, only ten years after that event. I'm aghast at the playing of the national anthem before each performance, as well.

14 comments:

Graham said...

Lisa, did you see it prior to donating this ticket? Or is your distaste based on reviews? Either way, I don't blame you at all--I have never been inspired by Heggie's music; nor does this sound like a suitable subject for an opera, at any distance from the event--a rangy "life story"? Not an opera subject.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I haven't seen it; I was feeling queasy about it before it opened. The performances are good enough that even though the opera apparently isn't that good, I would go for Hampson, Moore, and Burden despite the opera.

I did not think much of Dead Man Walking, but the Heggie angle doesn't concern me because Heart of a Soldier is by Christopher Theofanidis. :)

The Unrepentant Pelleastrian said...

I'm aghast at the playing of the national anthem before each performance

******

Ugh indeed.

I wonder if the audience breaks out in applause right after it...

Graham said...

Oh, touche! Silly I. Well, the musical language of either one interests me very little. Thomson, Stravinsky: great; Corigliano, Adams: interesting; Glass: hit or miss, with blips of greatness; Saariaho: interesting; Henze: interesting. Most of the rest--incl. these two--the same sort of vague, kinda tonal, completely forgettable junk that has been "American opera" since the 1940s. Thanks for catching my error.

John Marcher said...

I saw it today and the National Anthem beforehand put me off, giving lie to SFO's statement this is not a "9/11 opera"- it most certainly is, and a poorly conceived at that, which doesn't work on any level.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, John, for that perspective.

Graham, do you know Ades's The Tempest?

Joshua Kosman said...

Well, hold on a minute — you knew what it was about when you acquired your tickets. If you don't want to go because the opera isn't very good (it's not) that's one thing, and perfectly legitimate. But I don't think you get to wait until the reviews are in and then decide to get on your moral high horse about the subject matter. Am I missing something?

Also: Can you explain why 9/11 isn't an appropriate subject for an opera? Because you talk about it as though that should be obvious, but it isn't (at least not to me). Various sub-questions that could be touched on: Does the ban only include opera, or are novels, plays and movies also forbidden? And: How soon does the ban expire — 10 years? 20?

Lisa Hirsch said...

There's something you don't know: I started having qualms about the opera before it opened. There's email to various friends about this: as September 11 approached, I just got queasier and queasier. I told people before I saw any reviews that I might not go. Two of the reviews - yours and Jeff Dunn's - actually increased my interest in seeing it.

As far as inappropriate, it's not the subject, it's the timing: for some reason it seems too soon, ten years after, for an opera about it. (You do know that SFO is claiming it's not a 9/11 opera, I presume?) I did see a play about 9/11 in maybe 2002 or 2003, and that seemed like a gut reaction to a recent event. It did not bother me. Call me inconsistent.

Lastly, while I realize that 9/11 deeply affected the whole country in profound ways, San Francisco is on the other side of the country from NYC. I feel really weird about SFO doing the opera, like we're trading on their pain.

calimac said...

Why on earth, if she's not reviewing it and is not standing up a companion, should she not decide not to go at any time she feels like it, for any reason she feels like it? I once decided to skip an SFS concert because I just wasn't feeling up to it that day. Nobody else was going with me, so who cares? I did call up the box office and donate my ticket, though. Another time I left at intermission: far fewer than the number of times I've later wished that I left at intermission.

Lisa Hirsch said...

No idea whether Joshua is going to reply or not, but I was fine with his question.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

About the appropriateness of 9/11 for operatic (or other dramatic) treatment: I personally have no problems with that; what raised my eyebrows a bit was that it was tied in to the 10th anniversary -- that made me wonder a bit about the motives behind the commission(it did seem a bit calculated, and, as Lisa said, as if we were trading on NYC's pain) and it made me wonder how honest they would be about the effects of 9/11. So I think it's the timing more than the subject matter itself that makes a difference here.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

And by the way -- when did the Opera switch from calling this an opera about 9/11 to claiming it's not about 9/11? I completely missed that changeover.

Michael said...

I think you're cheating yourself by not seeing it and being able to make your own judgments, especially when you so often (understandably!) take performing arts groups to task for not doing enough new work. My take on the opera based on Sunday's performance is at http://michaelgood.info/2011/09/heart-of-a-soldier/

Lisa Hirsch said...

Good point, Michael!