Sunday, August 22, 2010

There's "spin" and then, there's craptastically inaccurate

"When I came to Arizona, my idea was that each season we would do three works from the standard repertoire - the Figaros and Carmens - and to stage two things never before seen in Arizona," says Joel Revzen, artistic director for Arizona Opera.

"We did (Menotti's)
Consul, we did (Handel's) Semele. We did (Carlisle Floyd's) Susannah, all works never seen before in Arizona, and they were some of our better productions.

"But we have an enormous debt, and we had to secure a stream of earned revenue while building contributed revenue. So, we had to let that programming plan go by the wayside for two seasons."

He points out that even though the new season looks conservative on the surface, "We're doing a major work by Mozart not done in Arizona in 40 years, in
The Abduction From the Seraglio, and we're doing my first Otello, which also hasn't been done here in a long time."

Bringing in something new is essential, he says.

"If you do the same 12 operas that people will go and see - 'Butterfly,' 'Carmen,' 'Traviata' - you become creatively bankrupt," he says. "Part of our responsibility is to create a balanced season for our audiences."
From The Arizona Republic.
Ugh... once again, some stellar reporting on the part of the Arizona Republic!

[Insert annoyed eye roll here.]

I take issue with quite a few things in this "article", but will only highlight a couple of things here...

First of all, for Mr. Revzen to say that The Abduction From the Seraglio hasn't been done in Arizona in 40 years is a stretch. I mean, let's face it. There is "spin" and then, there is completely inaccurate. Hey ... so ... guess what? I sang in an semi-staged version of The Abduction From the Seraglio with the Phoenix Symphony about 10 years ago... granted, it was not done by Arizona Opera, but it was in Arizona.

Secondly, another over-reaching and blanketed statement was to say that Susannah had never before been seen in Arizona when Arizona Opera staged it in their 2006-2007 season. Let me just state for the record that I sang the role of Rev. Olin Blitch in Arizona State's Lyric Opera Theater production of Susannah in 2001 ... some 5 years prior to Arizona Opera's production. I understand that it was on the Lyric Opera Theater stage at Arizona State ... but, the last time I checked it was produced and seen in Arizona. And, if I'm not mistaken, a good number of our 6 shows were sold out.

My final point - While I do agree that part of a company's responsibility is to create a balanced season, balance is not created at the peril of the standard repertoire - 'Butterfly,' 'Carmen,' 'Traviata'. I hardly think doing the standard repertoire makes a company "creatively bankrupt". Creative bankruptcy comes from not serving the music. Creative bankruptcy comes from producing craptastic shows just to say you produced them.

But Friends ... let's be honest: to blame creative bankruptcy on the operas considered to be standard repertoire, is like a child blaming a broken tchatchke on their "imaginary friend" ... we as grown-ups know it's ridiculous, but it sure makes the child feel like he or she is off the hook.

Mr. Revzen should probably consider choosing his words a little more carefully next time. Furthermore, The Arizona Republic should fact check their source's quotes prior to publishing them ... but, then again, why would the Arizona Republic want to start fact checking now?

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