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Subject: Re: ENO's Magnificent "Death in Venice" (DVD)
From: Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 16 Dec 2017 05:26:51 -0500

text/plain (42 lines)

Sorry to hijack a topic for another purpose but it is a fact that opera stories reflect 
true emotions and sexual compulsions and, watching from afar America's sudden 
discovery of "improper" sexual behavior, it might be relevant. 
This opera's story, of a man in his final years having a flirtation with a young 
adolescent, might be relevant to today's newspaper stories. As an American living 
abroad, I am reminded of America's persistent avoidance of dialogue about issues 
of sexual compulsion and deviance and how the story of James Levine, among 
others, has not been properly explored in the "real world" context. These issues 
are far more complex and subtile than the present dialogue you are hearing.
First, the boy who is attracting the attention of Aschenbach is acting deliberately. 
Yes there are adolescents who understand that they are gay and are attracted to 
older men. Yes, there are male (and female) adolescents who are attracted to 
older women. Those who inhabit the gay world are aware of this and porn sites are 
full of examples that wouldn't be there unless they got clicks. 
The American avoidance of dialogue about sex is another major factor in the story. 
How could Levine's "abuse" continue for years without the child's parents being 
aware? The "wall of silence" around sex, an American tradition, would be the chief 
culprit. There is much less of a "wall of silence" in opera. Opera can teach you 
about the real world and its complications. Gilda still loves her abusive young man 
even after Rigoletto arranges the quartet and she sacrifices her life for him. 
Please, nobody read this as some sort of justification of any sexual behavior. It is 
intended to simply indicate that often the story is more complicated that the 
"sexual harassment" or "sexual abuse" tags indicate and it has always been 

Frank Cadenhead


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