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Subject: Re: Age appropriate operas
From: Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Frank Cadenhead <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:42:59 -0500
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I am thinking more about the Klaus Guth production of La Boheme at the ONP. 
Superficially, Boheme is a charming story of young people living a student life. But 
we also see a social situation they are facing where the adolescent merriment is to 
be replaced by adult tragedy and a grim future. 

Guth takes us to a space station on a distant planet. Oxygen and other life-support 
functions are diminished and the end looms. Mimi's entrance is abstracted and the 
love is only a dream. The parade in Act II, Marcello discovers, is actually the 
funeral of Mimi.  

Opera people often have trouble looking carefully at the libretto and understanding 
the social commentary. Mimi, without family support in a big city, actually cannot 
choose who she wants to be with but must prostitute herself to survive, like her 
friend Musetta. Women had no other obvious options in the early 19th Century and 
are not completely free to pursue dreams even at present. Even the boys are 
struggling to survive in their pursuit of art. Colline sells his coat to get a doctor to 
come (still the same in one particular "advanced" country) and the privileged rich 
control everything. (Statistics on how the US class/wealth divide has changed in 
the last few decades will alarm any thinking person.) Who would want to take their 
kids to see this?

Tosca? Trying to live and love in a brutal Fascist state? Kids don't need that shock. 
The story of the commander-in-chief getting head from prostitutes upset a number 
of people on this list. Thank God it was only fiction!

Frank Cadenhead

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