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Subject: "Lohengrin": What's It Cost & Does it hurt?
From: Robert T Jones <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Robert T Jones <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 21 Mar 1998 18:33:54 -0500
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LOHENGRIN:  WHAT DID IT COST?

Several postings have commented, with an undercurrent of outrage, on the
cost of the Met "Lohengrin."  The cost, it is alleged, is something like
$4-million.

Well, this indeed is a whopping lot of money. But true or not, it's hardly
anybody's business. These kinds of productions are always funded by specific
donations of one kind or another. Those who hate this LOHENGRIN would much
prefer the money had gone to something else (insert name of your favorite
opera here), but this would not happen. The money was meant for this show,
and for no other. Put another way: if you wanted to give $100 to the Met for
Verdi, you would give it for Verdi, and if somebody said they'd changed
their minds and wanted to use your money for, let's say, Stravinsky, you
might properly object and withdraw your donation. And since it's your money,
you would have that right. That's the way it works.

This is a hard thing for many people to understand. Five years ago there was
a monstrous flap at the Spoleto Festival about a huge art exhibit. I can't
remember what it cost, but it was a LOT, and Gian Carlo Menotti was
infuriated that the money was not being used for an opera production. But
nobody had said, "Here's a million dollars, go out and have fun with it,"
what they HAD specified was that the money was to be spent on THIS exhibit
and on nothing else. Mr. Menotti had so much trouble understanding that fact
that he withdrew from the festival he himself had launched.

LOHENGRIN:  DOES IT HURT?

There have been several comments about how uncomfortable the LOHENGRIN
singers "must" be, and how muscle strain "must" be happening. Again, I don't
see that audiences have any business worrying about such things. Performers
are often required to do strange physical things, but nobody is holding guns
to their heads to make them do it. In Bob Wilson's THE CIVIL WARS, an actor
spent the better part of an hour spinning slowly around in a kind of
front-loaded washing machine, reciting a speech all the time. Performers
have been known to walk tight ropes, let themselves be fired from cannons,
toss each other from one trapeze to another without nets, and stick their
heads into the mouths of lions (only a couple of weeks ago a lion bit down,
with near-fatal results). As for more "serious" art, instrumentalists are
always damaging their hands, and singers their voices. I suggest these
people fretting about the comfort of Met singers should turn their concerns
to the ballet: you think spinning around all night in toe shoes is good for
your arch supports? Then you've never seen an x-ray of a dancer's foot.

No, if you want to hate the Met's LOHENGRIN, go ahead and hate it. But not
because it costs more than you've ever imagined, or hurts more than you've
ever dreamed.

And it certainly did sound splendid on the radio today, didn't it?!


---Robert T. Jones ([log in to unmask])

        "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.
         You must be mad or you wouldn't have come here."
                (The Cheshire Cat)

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