For those who hate opera

THURSDAY, October 24, 2019

If you hate opera, listen to this lady, and listen to Carmen

I don’t like opera. I’ve never loved opera. I don’t even like it. I’d rather be put in jail for several hours than go to an opera. And most of the choruses you hear singing music for operas are made up of over-the-hill, warbling voices that make me want to scream from the torture of listening to them, so most of the time I don’t even like opera recordings.

But I like Carmen!

Georges Bizet, dead at age 36..

Georges Bizet died suddenly after only the 33rd performance of Carmen. He had no idea that it would become one of the most famous musical compositions ever written. The French public didn’t like it, and French critics were horrible to him and of course horribly wrong. In fact, music critics have probably done more to destroy music than anything else.

Shakespeare wrote: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”…

(Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2)

I wish he had written a similar line, only for critics. They are generally wrong about everything, praising music that will soon be forgotten and criticizing just about everything that will eventually be accepted as genius. While it is probably unfair to say the critics killed Bizet, he was very depressed by what he assumed was failure. Certainly those cruel and stupid critics did not help his health problems, and he was dead at age 36, another genius who died way too early.

Popular for 136 years…

He died in 1875, and Carmen was not revived in France until 1883, 8 years after his death. But from 1883 to today it has been popular, more popular and even more popular. Today everyone in the world knows at least a couple themes from Carmen. There is no nation on the planet that has been more wrong about many of its greatest geniuses than France.

Maria Callas, an opera “rock star”…

That said, I love listening to this lady. I don’t think there was ever a more famous singer. It’s strange to read that her mother didn’t want her – she wanted a boy. Maria was also overweight, typical of so many divas that sound magnificent but don’t exactly fit the romantic parts they play on stage. And she had serious vision problems. Then around 1954 she lost 80 pounds. She also disliked her own voice. There is great controversy both about her voice and what the weight loss did to that voice. In fact, Maria Callas was the very embodiment of controversy. She had a very difficult, unhappy life. But no one argues about her greatness as a singer.

 

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