This note reflects both my own personal opinion and my feeling about
that of critics. Before saying more, let me repeat my private Bravo!
to Robert Jones for authoritative information clearly expressed.
Otherwise, the following will be repetition for those on the list
for any period of time.
I value others' opinions highly for the insight they provide into my
own perception and for 'leads' in spending money. There are two
aspects to any criticism: objective and subjective. Objectively, one
can describe the production and aspects of the performance: the sets
are mauve and cyan striped drops with chartreuse furniture; the
chorus entered consistently late. Subjectively: I found the
production illuminating in equating the dragon's cave to the
digestive tract; his rubato induced seasickness.
I hope that the objective statements are true; if not, the rest of
what is written cannot be credited. 'Truth' here means that the
statements are consistent with others' reports if I have not
epxerienced it myself or with what I saw/heard if I did.
But for me, the key factor is calibrating the criticism. That is,
getting to know where a particular critic is coming from so that I
can use the information provided to guide my decision to attend (in
the past) or to buy (in the present). I don't care where the review
is published; opera-l has the advantage that some reviewers post
frequently enough for me to calibrate them effectively. I know how
much Tom Kaufman knows about his fields of interest and I regard his
opinion on them more highly than I do others'. I also know Charlie's
biases - er, opinions - and factor in his rising emotional state
when interpreting his posts. (I have chosen two markedly different
'critics' for this purpose and do not mean to equate them in any
sense other than that I am glad to read their inputs to this list.)
Since I have a volume of criticism posted in Opera on Video at my
WWW site, I have a personal concern. I trust that no one agress with
all of the reviews posted there; if someone did, I would be worried
about his/her judgement (or sanity). But if you compare my comments
on a half dozen or so performances you know, you should be able to
read what I write for *your* objectives. If you are considering
buying a Boheme, I would hope you would not rely on my brief
Evaluation line, but would read the specifics. If you love one
artist's way with opera but feel that I do not, then please trust
your judgement, not mine.
Finally, I note that we have learned reviewers on this list and
novices. I value both - and those in between - because I know what
underlies their comments. One advantage opera-l offers is that no
one seems to feel compelled to demonstrate erudition with peripheral
technical discussions. In other words, nobody is respected here
*because* he spells 'acciaccatura' correctly, even if he uses it
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