Dividing Without Conquering

A great link popped up in my RSS feed over the weekend, rocking my world with the clashing of two of my favorite things: Freakonomics and Opera!

In short, the writer is a believer in comparative advantage* in economics (and baseball:)) but has realized that its benefits do not extend to opera.  He had just seen a show in which illness forced a division of labor, with one performer acting the role onstage and another singing from the wings. “Opera is both acting and singing, and it was absurd and disconcerting to separate them.  The production function for opera requires one person doing both—division of labor makes no sense in this case,” he writes.

Possibly my favorite quote comes from the comments section of the post, though (for full context, see the last paragraph in this comment

“The glory of the opera isn’t really the singing: it’s that so many things that can go wrong don’t…”

Ain’t that the truth?

*Comparative Advantage: A situation in which a country, individual, company or region can produce a good at a lower opportunity cost than a competitor.

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