Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Only get better? I hope.

I had high hopes for the classes in the Adult Lifelong Learning section of the community college but I'm getting disaffected and hope to be convinced I'm wrong in a week or two. I know I am impatient with people who are bad public speakers but yesterday's introduction to Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin tried my patience seriously. We were given a printed bio sheet but then the presenter decided to tell us more from a tape she had heard. She was a little nervous and lost her train of thought occasionally; she totally left out his homosexuality as if that might be troubling to anyone in the room. All that I could bear although I was horridly bored the half hour she chose to talk. Mispronouncing various Russian names a long the way.

Worse, she then told us that although she had a 2003 DVD of a production from the Met she had chosen to show a 1984 DVD from the Kirov because it seemed "more Russian." Bad enough, I thought, that I have to listen to Tchaikovsky's melancholy music, now I have to watch a very fuzzy DVD. And it turned out to be a static production of the old "park and bark" sort, a lovely Tatiana standing about being mawkish and a couple of handsome men standing about as did the mother. Olga seemed to want to act a bit but then she was a minor character. I had never seen a production, nor wanted to, but thought seeing a DVD would at least make me more literate about the opera beyond already knowing Pushkin. It is important to me to be well rounded in the arts and this is a major opera in the repertory.

Happily there was an intermission half way through and a woman near me said something about a shame to be indoor. That was the tipping point in my thoughts about leaving. I left and the other woman followed. The presenter was a well meaning woman and I feel badly if she was insulted. I would have wanted to leave without the presenter's long discourse. I love Tchaikovsky's ballet music, get bored with his overblown romantic symphonies and now hackneyed piano concerto. I could sit through any of the ballets once a week but I'll never get through a whole performance of Onegin, I'm sure. And they also have Queen of Spades and Mazzeppa on the schedule. I'll give them a try -- we'll see.

Quite some time ago, going to sometimes very bad Off-Broadway shows, I realized I prefer to leave at an intermission than spend another hour being irritated, critical and bored by something that is not going to add positively in any way to my life experience. If a friend is involved in such a production, I'll suffer and find something relatively positive to say -- I won't insult anyone. But the other woman was quite right, it was too beautiful a day to be indoors at a horrible old opera.

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