Not all of the following are common on the list, and I am expressing
nothing more than my own reaction to apologies offered unnecessarily
or not offered when they should be.
LANGUAGE: 'Excuse my English' is not necessary. If you saw my
German, Italian, etc. you would know why I am pleased to make
whatever effort is needed to deal with imperfect spelling or
LANGUAGE: One may demonstrate one's erudition in many ways; language
need not be high on the list. High Middle Polish wins no accolades
from those who understand it and no admiration from those who do
not. At the other extreme, it is not necessary to use the language
of the gutter to describe staging, singing or activities beneath
EXPERIENCE: Until an expert comes along who was born that way, each
of us began as a novice. No apology is needed for bringing a fresh
point of view to opera; on the contrary it reminds some of us jaded
types of how much pleasure we have given up.
EXPERIENCE: Memories are wonderful, but often distorted by time.
That ineffable private experience of 1942, even if one recalls it
precisely, is of value to others only if it becomes detailed or is
accessible to them. 'I cannot listen to another Tristan after the
impression that de Reszke made' is only name-dropping and diminishes
CRITIQUE: She who is without a 'guilty pleasure' may disagree, but I
find reasoned judgement of a Bocelli Rodolfo or a Ronstadt Mabel
delightful. Perhaps I was too hasty or too narrow-minded in
critiquing technical failures. I cannot hear or see a performance
with the eyes of others, particularly of those who have not yet seen
a dozen and heard a hundred performances of the work. Their reviews
are as close as I can come, and I appreciate them for that.
CRITIQUE: I have never attended, heard or watched a perfect
performance. A review consisting of unqualified superlatives is even
less credible than one which finds nothing of value in the
performance. There's nothing wrong with saying that one is so
carried away by production, conducting, singing that critical
faculties were suspended. However, saying that each element was
superb, each singer was perfectly suited to the role, etc. makes the
reviewer sound like a hired hand of the company.
CONTENT: There's nothing wrong with disagreeing - even with a
consensus of those you think more knowledgable than you. It isn't
even disrespectful to say that you disagree with another's opinion,
though that can be done badly. To do it well, say why you respond
differently; to do it badly, suggest that the originator
CONTENT: Before you post, please read the message. Would it be as
effective posted privately? Is it something that will do you credit
if read a year from now in the archives? Is there a word or phrase
which can be softened to everyone's advantage? A thousand people are
likely to read your words; if only for efficiency, you might read
them yourself before posting.
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