Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Really, Must we?

It’s the old, old story: what should we do to “popularize” classical music?

To the purists, the answer is nothing: inserting a Cuban popular song into an already quite jazzy rendition of “Sound the Trumpet,” by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell, cheapens and degrades the music. And—so goes the thinking—it makes us look ridiculous. Who are we kidding, after all, when classical musicians venture into heavy metal? Will we ever be as good—or as bad—as AC / DC, or whoever they are? Do we want our bankers and US senators to wear purple Mohawks, black leather and chains?

The other side of the story, of course, is that if we keep being purists, we’ll end up playing to six old ladies in Dwindling Light Nursing Home. And when the fl;u epidemic carries them off, where will we be?

Tonight, we will go to the opera, taking young Montalvo with us. But Lady will come along as well, and Gabriela. And though I say it’s the opera, it’s really a hybrid form: the Metropolitans Line in HD, which is shown in movie theaters throughout the world.

Since Montalvo has been sprung from puritan clutches of the criminal justice system, there is every likelihood that he will approach the opera with a chemically enhanced brain. It’s probably for the best, because the crowd at the opera takes a little getting used to: there’s no disputing that they are lovely, absolutely lovely ladies. And so it’s no surprise that they have many friends, each one of whom will also be attending the opera. And so the ladies will stop and kiss, compare notes on their most recent trips to Gstaad, and invite each other to their villas in Nice. This will take time, of course, but it will also take place in the absolute middle of the lobby, and since there will be three or four such pairings, the lobby will be completely impassable. And so there we will be, wondering if it would be really low-class to cough, murmur “excuse me,” and wade our way through.

Raf’s mother, of course, has solved the problem for us, since she uses her walker on the ladies as the train uses the metal triangular device on the cows. My point? Montalvo has become an adept at the opera: “didn’t we see Kristine Opolais in Manon Lescaut,” he asked recently. We told him he had, and he went away. The next day he posted a video of a pre-paraplegic skateboarder performing death-seducing feats. And the music? The worst of Reggaeton!

It’s an open world for Montalvo, in short. And does anyone think, by the way, that whoever the “singer” of the Raggaeton will be singing “O mio Babbino Caro” tomorrow? Of course not!

What an extraordinary cowardly people we have become! Because tonight we will see La bohème, the plot of which is a familiar as the tears that will spring from my eyes. Yes, Mimi will lose her keys on the dark stairs, Rodolfo will find them but pretend not to have, since what has happened?

Really, do I need to tell you?

Montalvo, of course, will snort at this, since in his mentally-unenhanced state, while under the wing of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, well, he had been rather different.

“He was high as a kite last night at the poetry slam,” said Lady. “And really, he was totally cool: chilling, relaxed, good with the world. Is it too terrible to say that I like him….”

I knew just what she meant….

“I’ve noticed that these bitches always get their way in these operas,” he snorted, when he was in an unimproved state, several months ago.

“You know,” I will tell him, “this opera is the absolute best way to get any woman to…well, be where you want her to be. It’s a total aphrodisiac for them. You take her out, ply her with oysters and champagne, and then, bam! Hit her with Puccini!”

“Panties off!” he will respond, probably in a voice that will carry through the lesser Antilles, and be heard in Caracas.

“It’s a bit easier than winning the Nobel Prize for literature,” I will tell him. “Though also a bit more expensive. Anyway, it’s a definite plan B….”

These are the fatherly tips that it is my duty to confer….

So we will see the opera, and I know everything but when it will be set.. Because the stage director has to do something, after all, to ear those juicy Metropolitan bucks. So it may be that the whole thing will be staged in ancient  Mesopotamia, or mayber in a distant planet in a far distant time. So Mimi will lose her keys in a spaceship, and….

It won’t be quite that bad, of course. Though I have seen a clip of Philippe Jaroussky covered in motor oil—supposedly—and singing Monteverdi. Oh, and in the same production, poor Cecilia Bartoli had to sing “Piangero, La Sorte Mio” wearing a canvas hood. Wonderfully—opera singers have such good training—the sound was quite unmuffled.

Well, Montalvo at the opera is definitely as good as the opera itself, since he has proven himself completely capable of giving a “popcorn shower” to the woman in front of him. Just as, of course, I immediate countered by proving that a 6’3” man can quite easily cower under a movie seat….

Stay tuned!