In a message dated Thu, 7 Jun 2001 2:01:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] writes:
<<As I said, these issues have to do with the cost of entertainment for literate, sophisticated middle class people who want the best, and who wouldn't dream of going to an opera if anyone less than Pavarotti was
singing. Problem is, this was being presented as an example of how television makes the nation more democratic... by fulfilling Ropbert's needs. . . . And I don't see either one of you as exactly impoverished, or even terribly deprived if you have to see your operas (o horrors!) in the boondocks rather than flying to
NYC or Paris or Bayreuth.
I'm not wandering into the deeper dispute here, because I haven't the time to think through a coherent position, but I would like to make a couple of points that bear on the margins of this discussion.
Tristan and Parsifal are not suited to performance by regional opera companies. Even the world's greatest houses have to accomodate the schedules of the tiny number of performers capable of taking the roles. This is especially true of Tristan, because of the unusual demands upon Isolde, but is largely true for Parsifal as well.
Cities like Washington, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco may stage them, by waiting their turn or by settling for the next rung of (still very premiere) talent, but you're not going to see them at the local shop in any but the largest cities. And the slow rotation of talent (not, here, suggesting permanence) -- along with the large reparatory of operas more easily staged and sung -- makes their appearance in any of these cities a very hit-and-miss proposition.
Then again, they're not on TV very much, either. Perhaps the argument regarding this sort of programming makes more sense if the debate includes video I don't recall if it has been framed that way so far), but that really raises quite different issues than television. Still, with the proliferation of cable programming, there is something reasonably intelligent on some channel as often as not (or nearly so) in the evening hours, it seems to me. However middlebrow it may appear to some, I have noticed that I have more interesting conversations about history, for example, with a greater variety of people, since The History Channel has emerged. Frequently, people cite the channel as the starting point of a conversation that we likely never would have had otherwise. Some of them, I suspect, are even moved to read books if a subject especially catches their interest. And good information obtained over the airwaves is not inherently less valuable than good information obtained !
from a book.
My thoughts, for what their worth.