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Subject: on the two threads today
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 11 Feb 2017 19:47:51 -0500

text/plain (50 lines)

Two fun threads came in today.  As I read all the responses to the best
"American soprano posts, it then morphed into sopranos from other countries.
 No great surprises on any of them because every last one of them repeatedly
demonstrated brilliance, beauty and sublime moments.  And now mezzos have
been thrown into the fray.  It's all well and good.  In my very humble
opinion, 95% of those singers noted had that special "something" that makes
a great singer truly grand.  Virtually all of them have brought joy to a lot
of people.  But truly, is this not an exercise in futility?  I don't really
think that one can proclaim any of them as "the ultimate greatest" because
of the nature of opera to begin with.  WE are the ones who are the
recipients of their gifts, and if we consider them to be "the best", it's
because they "connected" with something inside of US, and we all are
"reached" by contrasting artistic attributes.  I WILL openly admit, however,
that I do not recall seeing the name Flagstad mentioned in this pantheon of
honor.  I would say without hesitation that she certainly belongs there.
     On the subject of "changing tastes" (introduced by Mr. Youngman), I
find a lot of truth in this.  Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath", alluded to
by a poster whose name I can't recall, is a perfect illustration that can
apply to opera as well.  "The Grapes of Wrath" is a book I was forced to
read in high school.  I also saw the film a short time later.  I detested
it.  It wasn't until I was in Graduate School that I read the book again
and, of course, saw the film.  It was a revelation and it taught me much
that I was able to apply in my teaching career.
     There are certain artistic masterpieces that should not come too soon,
because of one's maturation level.  In opera, I lived on a diet of Italian
opera and of course "Carmen" from the age of twelve until I was in my middle
twenties.  Then I went on to Mozart and Strauss.  From that point, Wagner
held no terrors for me.
     I saw my first "Ariadne Auf Naxos" at 19, and was bored to hell with
it, especially the Prologue.  By the time I reached forty, I came to love
and cherish it.  The same applies to most of the German operas.  One's
tastes DO change.  Another opera that I once thought to be garbage was
"Faniculla del West".  Today, I consider it be be one of Puccini's greatest
     One DOES learn and expand with life, and in respect to art, music,
opera, film, etc, it can take several years of life to love the things that
life has to offer.

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