February 05, 2009

We are still here

The protest movement that took to the streets of Athens last December—partially sparked by the police killing of a Greek teenager, and partially a vanguard of the wave of economic discontent sweeping across Europe—has finally set its sights on the bourgeois excess of opera, occupying the Olympia Theatre of the Greek National Opera. From the protesters' blog-posted manifesto:
In response to those who understand the rebellion as a brief spark, and undermine and dismiss it by simply saying "life goes on", we say that the fight not only continues, but has already redefined our life on new foundations. Nothing is finished, our rage continues. Our agony has not subsided, we are still here. Rebellion in the streets, in schools and universities, in trade unions, municipal buildings and parks. Rebellion also in art. Against art as entertainment consumed by passive voyeurs. Against an aesthetic that excludes the "Different". Against a culture that destroys parks and public spaces in the name of profit.
Current performances of Tannhaüser and upcoming performances of the ballet Giselle have been postponed. In the meantime, the protesters are having an "Open General Assembly of the Liberated Opera" every evening, which, Critic-at-Large Moe was pleased to see in the above picture, means open to dogs, too.

Other opera news, apart from the revolving-door tenor casting in the Met's Lucia, which I gave up trying to follow:

When the Six Nations Rugby Championship gets underway this weekend, the English squad will have an extra advantage: opera singers, courtesy of the sports-betting company Betfair.
The country's top opera sopranos—led by Christine Rice, one of the biggest stars of English National Opera—will be strategically placed around the stadium to activate the vocal cords of England's 82,000-strong supporters and inspire the national team to glory.

Betfair, the official betting partner of the England rugby team, has trawled the nation's top opera houses to recruit a crack team of sopranos who will elevate the singing standard of traditional rugby anthems such as "Jerusalem" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" to give England a competitive edge over their opponents.
As a Betfair spokesman puts it: "[T]he opposition won't know what's hit them when they hear the opera singers belting out the most beautiful chants Twickenham has ever experienced."

Elsewhere, magnificently immodest director William Friedkin has backed out of the operatic version of An Inconvenient Truth, citing the inevitable "irreconcilable creative differences" with the librettist.

And finally, La Cieca's far-flung web of correspondents return reports that Renée Fleming has gone all Rita Streich with her wardrobe.

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