In the Shadow of the Stars

20 07 2011

This was of course the film that won the Best Documentary Oscar in 1991, and it is a refreshing blast from the past compared to the too-cool-for-school style of the post-Michael Moore world. The film in a nutshell is the Chorus Line for opera singers, documenting the struggles, joys, and triumphs of those who sing in the chorus of the San Francisco Opera. While it is at times evident that they are afflicted by the green devil of envy and would of course prefer to sing the solos of the repertory that bring down the house, all the same, the people interviewed seemed well adjusted and thankful that they can make a living doing what they love.

What was most revealing to me was a rather whimsical scene of one such singer driving a commercial truck for his “day job”. He said that he learned both his love for opera and his truck driving from his father, who was evidently a great fan of classical music. Such an anecdote from the early 1990’s was a painful reminder concerning how far the working class has fallen in terms of a certain criterion of cultural literacy. In the past, it was perhaps not so unusual for a truck driver (probably unionized) to be an aficionado of the high arts, such as opera. This refutes the idea that the plebs must necessarily love what is plebian: what is so natural for a regular person to love Elvis compared to Verdi: working people crooned both at different times in history while doing their menial tasks? Or what makes Mozart less popular than Rick Ross other than the marketing? Doesn’t our economic system have to create cultural crap just to stay afloat? There is nothing natural about the demand for such cultural dreck: it is manufactured like everything else.

Some opera

17 09 2010

The Rake’s Progress

30 07 2010

I am pretty sure this is from the production that my wife and I saw at the San Francisco Opera a couple of years ago now.

Lully: Cadmus et Hermione

7 05 2010

Generic weekly music post

16 04 2010

And… Pandit Jasraj sings a raga

Perfect Lives

9 04 2010

Opera Jawa

12 02 2010

The trailer of the film

Ingmar Bergman’s Magic Flute

15 01 2010

The end of the opera

De Stijl

6 11 2009

From De Materie, an opera by composer Louis Andriessen and Robert Wilson

A little bit of Mozart

22 05 2009

The opening of Cosí fan tutte