|Opera As Opera|
Opera Book Review by Willard Manus
a bit insulting to the author to review an 800-page book in a brief review.
So apologies in advance to Conrad L. Osborne whose magnum opus, OPERA
AS OPERA-THE STATE OF THE ART, was published recently by Proposito
Press. Osborne has written on opera for some six decades, contributing
reviews and essays to such publications as High Fidelity/Musical
America, Opera News and New York Times,
among many others. He has also performed as actor and singer, and has
taught singing technique and interpretation. Married to actress Molly
Regan, he lives and teaches in New York City, where he writes a bi-weekly
blog, Osborn on Opera.
dismemberment of opera is being undertaken by some of its most sophisticated,
well-educated, and talented practitioners, and while their tongues are
often in their cheeks, they dont seem to know it-they think
theyre chewing over something significant in there. Operatic true
believers must show not that they dont understand, but that they
understand all too well, and that they have reasons beyond the lazy pleasures
of nostalgia for their dismay, he explains.
help from the government and the private sector, Osbornes Dream-On
opera company might actually come into being. Does all this seem
no more than a fantasy in our real political world? Im afraid it
does. Yet to anyone who believes in the value of the arts to society,
in what the economists term a merit good, it is, like the
Dream-On Company itself, entirely reasonable, no more than we should expect
from any advanced nation. I like the attitude of the Russian film director
Alexander Sokurov. Speaking of Russias troubled times, he said,
Were not irrevocably fated to be civilized...every time we
have to prove it, we have to pass the exam that we can be civilized.