11 Oct 2011

Musical mutiny

There has been a mutiny in our Peaceful Home.


We are now offically not going to see Opera Australia performing La Traviata in mid November. I am wounded that my husband and daughter should gang up on my in this way. Don't they know that they are ruining my grand finale, my perfect ending to the end of the academic year? Don't they understand that now the whole year is rooned and that I am clearly a teaching failure?

Don't they know that it is totally against the rules for them to 'dislike intensely' (we don't 'hate' in this formerly Peaceful Home) this opera? It is, after all, the second most commonly performed opera in. the. world. After Magic Flute. Which they both loved. Huh!

Actually, I really did feel I had failed Jemimah in teaching her opera appreciation for a moment there. Until I realised that it is okay not to like something. The fact that my 9 year old knows the music and the story of La Traviata well enough to know that she doesn't like it actually means that I've done my job rather well. I personally don't like Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, finding myself in agreement with the Boston Herald, which wrote at the time:
Who wrote this fiendish Rite of Spring?
What right had he to write this thing?
Against our hapless ears to fling
Its crash, clash, cling, clang, bing, bang, bing!
My dislike of this discordant piece though, does not make me an uncultured animal. I find nothing beautiful; nothing inspiring in its dissonance. After all, sounds are known as dissonant if they sound harsh or unpleasant to most people. And I am afraid that in this I am one of most people. This, I think, makes me discerning, not uneducated. It means that I know what I like and why.

This I realise is what my role is with my daughter. In the subject of Composer Study I am introducing my daughter to the best of the best. At the end of 13 years, Jemimah will not know all there is to know about music. She will not know all the great composers. It is unlikely, for example, that she will have studied Stravinsky. Already, though, she is demonstrating that she knows what she likes and what she doesn't and why. The fact that Jemimah doesn't like La Traviata does not mean necessarily she doesn't like Verdi (although that may, in fact prove true). Nor does it mean she doesn't like opera. In fact she clearly does. The fact that Jemimah doesn't like La Traviata means that she doesn't like La Traviata. Full stop.

Well actually, it also means that we won't be spending good money paying to see it performed by Opera Australia at the end of the year.

Which kinda mucks up my plans.

I suppose I'll recover eventually. Maybe.

The good news is that in 2012 Opera Australia are performing not one, but two of the operas we are covering this year as part of Ira Ross's Opera for Everyone series: Rossini's The Barber of Seville in April, and Madama Butterfly by Puccini in November. We're already studying Butterfly, and so far there have been no complaints from the floor. In fact, the mutineers are being incredibly well behaved so far. Both of them. I think that provided they never have to listen to the whole of La Traviata again they'll both be blissfully happy. To be honest, so will I. I've had enough of the whinging accompaniment to last me a lifetime.

Besides, I like Madama Butterfly better that La Traviata too. Don't let them hear me say so, though, will you? They may think I'm ignorant, uncultured and uneducated, and we can't have that now, can we? We'll just keep that between ourselves.


  1. Oh, thank goodness you came to the conclusion I was about to impose upon you ... that Jemimah's dislike of La Traviata is evidence of the excellent job you have already done!

  2. No way. Okay, she is allowed to dislike some things but how can she dislike La Traviata? :-p

    I think I just have positive memories associated with it since it was the first opera I ever saw.

  3. *snigger*. I think I will just hold my peace. *snigger*.

  4. No, Ganeida, I need to hear your opinion. Should I have just tried harder, or do I need to trade in the family, or am I just ignorant and uncultured?? Do tell...

  5. Since I can't name a single child who'd say "please take me to the opera" and yours has enough knowledge to intelligently discriminate between various operas, I'd say "let her stay home!" Glad your usual sanity kicked back in! Although I wouldn't blame you if you said "tough, get your shoes on, we're going anyway!" lol....

  6. You spread the feast - broad and nourishing - your dears decide what suits their tastes. Job well done. Michele(Richele's sister) p.s. I enjoy your blog(when I actually get to the library...)not savvy enough to do anything but sign in anonymously...Best regards.

  7. You can take me. I'll go. Lol

    "Carmen" was playing in our city but the ticket prices were too high.


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