Monday, April 21, 2008

We could fix up this old comment thread and make a post of it!

Would it be tiresome of me to take a thread from comments that I found interesting and write about it? It just seemed like there was more to say, on my part and perhaps on yours, if this thing is on.

The setup is that the Met had their open house, open dress, and some of us in the 'sphere went, and then some of us wrote about it. I wrote very little; others gave a more detailed report. Someone in comments gave me a thumbs up for not violating the unspoken rule that most of us know: you don't review a rehearsal. (Sort of like you don't boo a cover. I thought that bore repeating.) Our doyenne weighed in somewhat to the contrary, however, noting the difference between a review and a report. (Italics hers. She lent them to me.) La Cieca went on to say:

After all, if a company welcomes the public to a rehearsal, then surely it is expected that there will be talk afterward. If the Met really wants to keep a lid on a show, they have the option of closing the final dress...

And the point is well taken. I think one thing that's important and a little hard to put a finger on here is where blogging falls on the continuum between conversation and, not to be grandiose, journalism. The deal with reviewing a rehearsal, it would seem, is that you're critiquing something not yet fully on display because it's not fully finished, and if you do that between friends, it's just ungracious, whereas if you do that on a front page, it's really quite unfair, and if you have an audience closer to a crowd than a flock (as I do not), you could even affect whether people put the event on their calendar or stay home that night to touch up their highlights.

I mentioned, in comments, my own history with this: once upon a time, at an opera house moderately far away, I went to an open dress for a rather blood-and-guts piece starring a mezzo famed for shaking the walls. She marked almost the whole time, and her cover sang the big number, and not giving it much thought, I sniffed about it on another forum in a manner I'd now call petulant. I believe I specifically made reference to the spelling of the singer's name, said that the "c" was silent, and huffed that so were a good many other notes. Well. They like to ran me out of town, and not wholly without reason.

I think it was said to me that criticizing a free preview was like being invited to someone's house for dinner and mocking their fricasee. But what I felt back then, and still do to some extent, bolstered a little by what La C has said, is that the company in question invited a passel of folks to come hear, and by doing so, changed the nature of the event in a substantial way. The difference now is not between a closed part of the rehearsal process and a finished public spectacle but merely between a performance you were given free access to and one you had to pay for. And that makes it less clear whether you can, in good faith, be critical.

I did, that day, feel I was going to the opera. I took time out of my busy schedule of, well, frankly, sitting around wondering why I was in graduate school, but that's not the point. I think it's the norm now for a rehearsal to be more of a performance than a run-through, and because of this, yes, it's probably a little bit open to scrutiny. I wouldn't have gone to the above anonymized performance if I had known it was mostly for blocking and publicity photos. I'm not really interested in how Madame Silent C gets from point A to point B. I wouldn't have gone to Fille either, and I think the way the Met publicized their open house shows that they knew people were coming with some expectations.

Yes, there were differences...the intermission was extremely short; there were cameras swooping around, the audience was slightly chattier though generally still well-behaved. None of us minded that, I shouldn't think. And indeed, I do still err on the side, as I've said, of not pissing anyone off, because it doesn't seem important enough to make a big deal of. But in principle, I think the people who did write, insofar as they stayed within the bounds of giving a generalized sneak preview, did no disservice to anyone.

I'm interested to know if this is fair. Singers, in particular, I'd imagine might feel protective of the final dress. But that's my ten cents. (Now where's my dance?)


Anonymous said...

Would that the rest of the blognoscenti (not including Mme. Cieca, who is always thoroughly reasoned and mostly darn fair) had your discretion.

JSU said...

I probably *still* wouldn't blog the details, but I think there's a real difference between the typical dress rehearsal for donors, photogs & schoolkids and last week's "everyone come check out Fille!!!" event.

mostly opera... said...

I don´t know how they view things at the MET, but at "my" opera house - the Copenhagen Royal Opera - people below the age of 35 are offered the possibility to attend dress rehearsals. The theater management has specifically requested (on behalf of the singers) that we do not report from these rehearsal and that access would be restricted if the rule was violated.

Personally, I have never had any desire to report from dress rehearsals, even in places where I am not easily identified, as I would feel uncomfortable commenting on a product, which may not be the final one. Plus, the risk of offending someone, in my view is simply not worth it.

I realize, that the above may not apply to the MET open dress rehearsals, where, with their current marketing strategies, I wouldn´t be surprised if they´d actually welcome the publicity.

Anonymous said...

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