If you aren’t already following Adaptistration‘s annual Take a Friend to the Orchestra blog series, you should check it out. I contributed a few years ago, and every year Drew taps a terrific range of writers to talk about their experiences with and advice on introducing people to our world.
If you have just a minute, start with Scott Spielberg’s recent post on taking a friend to The Marriage of Figaro – twice in one weekend! Here’s the summary,
There is value in repetition. The context has changed, because we are different people when we cross that stream the second time. There is too much pressure put on inexperienced listeners to understand everything in a musical work in the first hearing. Mostly this pressure is self-inflicted, but we aficionados can also cause damage by smirking at ignorant questions or showing off with a bunch of technical jargon. What we need to communicate is that the best classical music has such a wealth of information that it requires and rewards repeated hearings and study. The more we emphasize that to new listeners, the more they will get out of their classical music experiences. There is value in repetition.
Are we just too impatient to buy into this? The faster our world gets (and from where I sit, we’re hitting warp speed pretty soon…), are most of us unwilling to do anything for which the rewards aren’t immediately noticeable? (I’m not lecturing. Really. I include myself in this incrimination.)
Taking a Friend to the WTOC
I’ve answered this question a lot in recent weeks: “Which one of your performances this summer would be the best one for a new operagoer?” I haven’t answered it very cleanly, but perhaps that’s for the best. Just as I wouldn’t recommend any particular restaurant for all palates or any fashion for all bodies, it seems foolhardily (is that a word?) simple to dispense a one-size-fits-all recommendation.
Here are my answers. Know your new operagoer and choose the best fit!
- Recommended for brevity (2 hours), sheer beauty of Mozart’s musical style, intriguing production that will let the audience choose the ending each night.
- Caution: It’s a dark, serious story.
- Recommended for its broad comedy, light-hearted and colorful set/costumes, sheer entertainment value in Rossini’s adrenaline-drenched musical style.
- Caution: Plot involves disguises and mistaken identities; could be a little confusing.
- Recommended for the basic familiarity of the Shakespeare play (and its various movie incarnations), the wealth of different and colorful characters, the modern sonic textures in Britten’s score.
- Caution: Would seem to be a contradiction, but rabid, die-hard fans of the play often don’t like the opera; it’s as if Britten makes too many choices for them.
Got that? Can’t choose? Come to one of each – they’re conveniently spread out in June, July and August! :)