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Subject: Re: NORMA in Baltimore tonight-Ruth Ann gets raves in Wash Post/Baltimore's fu
From: "John Wood (faculty)" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:John Wood (faculty)
Date:Sat, 22 Nov 2008 00:28:26 -0500
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I certainly don't deny Mr. Begley his opinion, his comments were not
without merit or unreasonable, nor did I like everything about this
production of Norma. I found the first 30 minutes of the Wednesday evening
performance tepid at best, including the Casta Diva, and I like Papian
very much. But the performance, for me and the other others I was with,
definitely came together and was quite beautiful in many parts. It's
reasonable to expect that people will have very different views. I've
certainly attended porductions that I didn't enjoy at all. 
However, the BOC has put together some very fine productions over the past
decade, with strong casts and a strong orchestra. The Romeo and Juliet
last season generated the most excitement I've ever seen from a young
audience, a Lady Macbeth of Mtensk in 2003, Aida this year, and others
have been powerful, moving productions. All of this in what is essentially
a small market without the resources of a Philadelphia, Washington, or
Atlanta. 
Furthermore, they have put together a program that makes it remarkably
easy - and free - to get hundreds of high school students into the opera. 
I have heard dire predictions about the BOC before, that it was on the
verge of closing, that it had no money, etc. etc. and all of this after
the season in 90-91 when they had to cancel a production and go to three
operas a year for several years. I've also heard complaints that Harrison
is responsible. But people I know who do work in the BOC have not
indicated that they are on the verge of closing or that Mr. Harrison is
responsible for the problems they have - not even grumbling.  And the
stories that Mr. Harrison is facing a very difficult family health crisis
are fact. 
Times are certainly rough and this may be the time that they can't make it
through. But it will not be because they have failed to put together
successful productions with very good and sometimes great castes. This is
an important cultural institution that has done good work in the community
for a long time. If it closes, it will be sorely missed. 

as to what Rosa Ponselle would have thought - from what I gather, and I
wasn't there 3 decades ago - the opera is much better now than it was
then. She created and built what was basically a civic opera company. It
is well beyond that now, so I don't doubt she'd be pleased. She might even
realize just how rare her voice was and understand how unlikely anyone,
anywhere, would hear a voice like hers on stage. 


John Wood
[log in to unmask]

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