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Subject: Why go if you're not going to like it? (was RE: Dawn Upshaw Recital)
From: Timothy Ostendorf <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Timothy Ostendorf <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 17 Mar 1998 12:34:00 EST
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This topic has been brought up before, but it still confuses me:

Why attend a performance if you're prepared to hate it?

I can completely understand going to an opera or concert knowing that there
will be things you don't like, but that there are reasons for going: you
like the particular work, or performer, or director, etc. Just like the recent
Met LOHENGRIN. The majority of postings have trashed the production, but most
people went because they like the music or the singers. So, one may have gone
expecting to hate Wilson's "concept", but they went to hear Wagner's LOHENGRIN
or Voigt's Elsa.

But in the case of a recital, why would anyone attend if they had no interest
in the singer or the music?

Mark Guenette, you said in your post about Upshaw's recital:

>I must confess that I never quite got Upshaw's huge success, be it as the
>ersatz Battle of the late eighties or as the artsy-fartsy anti-diva of more
>recent memory.  I'm still puzzled.

Mark, did you go hoping she'd changed from how you perceive her? Nowhere in
your post do you suggest that you went thinking that perhaps Upshaw would be
different than how you've experienced her in the past. You said:

>My problems with Upshaw begin with her almost constant refusal to *sing.*

So, you went EXPECTING her to be a certain way, and to your ears, she
fulfilled those expectations - how can you be disappointed? ;-)

Mark, you also weren't pleased with the music.

>Even the greatest musician in the world couldn't make anything shapely out of
>Harbison's Mirabai Songs, which followed the Strauss and included impossible
>lines like "I praise the Mountain Energy night and day."  Curiously, Upshaw
>gave the impression of believing in this piece of middlebrow claptrap.  The
>audience wasn't fooled.

Did you not know what she was going to sing? I realize that many times an
audience member doesn't know exactly what the complete concert is to be until
they arrive at the concert hall (and it is always subject to change, just as
this concert apparently was because of Upsahaw's allergies), but was this the
case? I see more and more listings of recitals in which they *do* print what
will be on the program. Had you never heard of Harbison's MIRABAI SONGS before?
Dawn performs them, and very well, on her disc that includes Barber's KNOXVILLE.
I'm not saying that just because you may not have heard these songs before would
have been a reason not to attend - perhaps that *was* a reason to attend: to
hear some new, unfamiliar works. But just because *you'd* never heard these
before and you didn't like them is really no reason to dismiss them as
"middlebrow". Or to say that you and the audience were not "fooled", thereby
implying that those who like these songs are fools/easily fooled/foolish/etc.
But even poor Dawn gave the impression of believing in these songs - imagine
that?! A singer actually believing in what they're performing!?!?! SHOCKING!!
But seriously, Mark, do you honestly think that it was the composer's intention
to "fool" the audience? The MIRABAI SONGS are not my favorite pieces by a long
shot, but interesting nonetheless. Oh, well... just call me a middlebrow fool...

Yes, I like Dawn Upshaw. And, no, I obviously did not attend this recital. Also,
this has nothing to do with my being offended by Mark not liking a singer I do.
I'm not offended at all. I can completely understand dislike for her mannerisms
and even her voice - it's all a personal choice. I'm also not against criticism
at all - Mark gave very valid reasons why he didn't enjoy the recital (although
I'd like to know in more detail why he completely dismissed those MIRABAI
SONGS... perhaps disappointment in not being about to leave the recital humming
a tune?). But mainly I'm confused at why Mark would chose to attend this
recital in the first place. Mark, before you even went to the concert you
apparently KNEW you weren't going to like it. Why waste the time and money?


Just like Mark said, I'm still puzzled.

Tim O.

--
Tim Ostendorf
Winthrop, Massachusetts
<[log in to unmask]>

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