Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not Exactly a Moment of Silence

Ten years ago, the phone rang around 7 a.m. It was a friend calling from far northern California telling Donna to go turn on the TV. She got up with a hand over her mouth, looking nauseated. I asked what was up and she said she couldn't tell me. I followed her into the living room and we spent most of the day glued to the TV.

My mother was staying with us, having broken her wrist a few weeks earlier in Seattle. She was recovering from surgery and sleeping a lot. (She would head back to NJ in late October.) When she woke up around 10, we turned off the TV and suggested she sit down because we had some bad news.

I'm not at all happy about the media orgies and the widespread beating of breasts today. What happened on September 11 was an immense and horrifying tragedy, a crime of great proportions. What happened as a result - the US's destruction of all the good will we had, the two worthless wars, the surveillance, the torture, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the laws giving the government more rights to invade our privacy, the trillions spent on the wars - has all been bad. Paul Krugman sums it up. Elsewhere in the classical music blogosphere, Matthew Guerrieri has a long and thoughtful posting up and Alex Ross has a nearly wordless posting up. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Artwork of the Day is sadly appropriate.

Me, I'm trying to figure out whether to attend Heart of a Soldier. Rick Rescorla was a genuine hero; he foresaw an air attack on the WTC, he did his job well, and thousands survived as a result - though they were not the only survivors of the fall of the towers, by any means. It is just too soon to be writing operas about September 11, 2001.


sfmike said...

To my my utter surprise, "Heart of a Soldier" turned out to be a very interesting opera. The music is good, the libretto does a brilliant job of bringing together an extremely disjointed (geography and time) story, and the staging by Zambello and her tech crew is first-rate. So do see it.

However, the piece is also politically and morally reprehensible. Our two solddier "heroes" meet cute in Rhodesia during the civil war in the early 1960s, murder and torture black people there, and then move on to Vietnam where they continue to do the same things to Southeast Asians. If the opera acknowledged that maybe this wasn't the most heroic activity in the world, it would be something else, but it doesn't. We're supposed to admire these characters unreservedly. They are our soldier "heroes."

And do pray that Gockley takes away the prologue where the audience stands and sings the "Star Spangled Banner" to a cheesy American flag video at the beginning of the show for future performances. It was wrong and offensive, and the actual opera wasn't that stupidly flag-waving. It did the piece a disservice.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh man, some of that is just nauseating! Interesting take on it - Zachary Woolfe strongly disliked it and I hear so did Joshua Kosman. Brian from Out West Arts has advised me to skip it.