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Subject: Taking up the cudgels
From: Roger Bell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Tue, 29 Mar 2005 14:24:57 EST
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Greetings to all listers,
 
I must take up cudgels again in this Covent Garden "Die Walküre"  matter.  
There have been some totally irrelevant comments from some  illustrious people.
 
Firstly, the matter of the telecast is a matter for the BBC not Covent  
Garden. Is any one [ even those in America] suggesting that Covent Garden  blocked 
the telecast because Bryn Terfel wasn't singing? That is plainly  ridiculous. 
Is anyone suggesting Terfel has the clout to block such a telecast  when he 
isn't singing because he is indisposed? Preposterous. What would happen  if that 
applied to all singers? Well, end of telecast opera is the first thing  that 
comes to mind...no sane broadcasting executive would walk so far out on a  
dodgy tightrope. Let all singers have a clause in their contract to say  that if 
they are indisposed there will be no telecast, if arranged?  Ludicrous. 
 
The Royal Opera House told the audience that Terfel wasn't singing. Mind  you 
the Opera House didn't offer the audience their money back. Actually those  
in the audience get the best of both worlds; they see Robert Hale live, and  
Bryn Terfel on the TV!
 
Secondly, the BBC didn't tell their audience until the end of Act 1 that  
that was all they were getting. This is the licence-paying BBC audience.  This is 
the BBC licence-paying audience who also pay their taxes which produce a  
subsidy for the Opera House. The BBC spokesperson was an  ex-Government Minister, 
person of authority and credibility. That's  why I said I felt cheated in my 
email yesterday, and why the audience may not  have felt that in the theatre.
 
The matter of the DVD is paramount here. One realises commercial issues but  
in a telecast of live opera there is always the potential for a cancellation 
by  a prominent singer, and if a live telecast is scheduled, it should go ahead 
if  the performance takes place.Surely the broadcasting company has made some 
sort  of contract with the public by scheduling the event. What would happen 
in  sport if David Beckham, the illustrious and famed soccer player was 
dropped  by England...would the BBC refuse to televise the match? I remember a  
Glyndebourne performance of "Simon Boccanegra" in 1998 in which the baritone  fell 
out late and was replaced by the Italian baritone Giancarlo Pasquetto,  never 
heard of before or since, but the BBC went ahead and broadcast it. Why the  
difference???  The comment from someone that Robert Hale might have blocked  
the telecast because he wasn't ready to be recorded on TV is highly unlikely. It 
 might well have been his last chance, given his seniority.
 
The obvious conclusion to be drawn, despite Mike Richter's innocent and  
ingenuous comments, is that commercial pressures have influenced the BBC's  
scheduling. I know that won't be of any importance to people outside the UK but  
it's a heck of a significant moment in the broadcasting of the arts in the UK,  
if it's true.
 
It will be interesting to discover which commercial company issues the DVDs  
of this BBC/Covent Garden Ring Cycle, eventually. If it is the same company  
which has allegedly given a free gift amounting to millions of pounds worth of  
recording equipment to CG for an archive project I will draw another obvious  
conclusion.
 
Regards to all
Roger D Bell
Lancashire
England

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