So it starts with a revealing post with complex implications at Parterre about the fellow who is funding I guess the overhaul of the State Theater, who turns out to be a teabag toting wingnut. (Me, I've always said I'd go libertarian if I weren't so darn fond of roads, hospitals, public schools and universities, the post office &c. &c. &c. I've also been known to say libertarianism is just anarchism with so much hedging you can't even get a decent punk album out of it. That's my libertarianism set. I'll be here all week.)
Anylez...people quickly get up in arms because die Heilige Kunst shouldn't be sullied by mean, dirty politics, and I guess someone with the nom de blogge of javier said "Anyway, opera and politics don't mix," because Will, who we suppose to be Will of Designer Blog who also comments here knocked it out of the park, and I'm gonna make you read it:
When you get to heaven, javier, look up Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, Kurt Weill, and Daniel Francois Esprit Auber, among many others, and mention your little fantasy to them.
Be prepared for gales of laughter.
Mozart deliberately conspired with da Ponte to put a play that had been banned in Paris the day after its premiere for its political content onto the opera stage in Vienna. Play and opera are both inflamatory political/social statements.
Verdi’s Risorgimento operas from early in his career ignited demonstrations and riots and were filled with coded references to the Austrian occupation of northern Italy. If you go to Atilla at the MET next season, listen for Ezio’s line “Avrai tu l’universo; resti l’Italia a me! which set off pandemonium in the theaters.
Wagner was an immensely political composer on and off stage–and I am NOT referring to what was done with his operas long after his death by Hitler and his gang. OK, with Weill I AM referring to Hitler and his gang, via Weill’s social and political protest in so many of his works.
And Auber, composer of what is arguably the first of the great French Grand Operas–what could possibly be political in his tale of a mute girl in love? Only that its run in Brussels caused riots that brought down the Belgian monarchy.
It’s amazing that people still insist that politics must NEVER be mixed with art, particularly “high and refined” arts like opera as if it pollutes them. All the arts are steeped in politics and have been. That’s why when Dictators seize countries, the arts are amont the first things they clamp down on.
Well, it doesn't get much more thorough than that.
It is a mess of a topic. Should we just be grateful of any money thrown at our pet art regardless of the source? I mean I don't think I'm on board with the commenter who said "NYC Opera and Ballet will not be getting a cent of my money," though I respect his conviction. It's worth talking about precisely because it's not straightforward, and precisely because there is some broad impulse not to talk about it. And yes, I also find it interesting to see the wingnuts coming out of the woodwork when something like this comes up. You assume that art broadens people. You are, it would seem, mistaken.