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Subject: Re: Babes in Toyland
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Sat, 29 Apr 2017 11:10:31 -0400

text/plain (35 lines)


Generally I would agree with you in the context of updating opera to make it "relevant," a 
condescending attitude that not only insults the audience's intelligence, collectively, but also 
does not trust the music and the story to be "relevant" on their own.  

But in the case of a lot of operetta and musical comedy, I have no objection to minor 
updating of the text to replace topical references that ceased to be relevant a century ago 
and have no significance today.  The purpose of the satirical topical references in, say, 
Gilbert and Sullivan, was to be humorous and to elicit laughter.  If that goal is better served 
by references to current events and figures, doing so is fine with me.  Over the years I've 
heard some very funny contemporary additions to Ko-Ko's "I've Got a Little List" (which just 
begs for some topical quips). 

The problem, as is often the case, comes down to good taste and judgment.  I saw a 
production of "The Mikado" some years ago that slammed you over the head with repeated 
references to current political events (and all from the same tiresome political slant), to the 
extent that it changed the whole character of the piece.  "The Mikado" is not a "message" 
opera, and making it into one is a travesty.  Better to stick with the original text and leave 
the audience sometimes scratching its head.  


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