22 August 2006

Near Summer's End

The day after the Boston Massacre Redux, the Yanks are secure in first place. Fall almost emergent, there's a softness in the morning air, shadows are growing longer, air fares are settling back to earth. In discussing Roger Federer's brilliance in the New York Times, David Foster Wallace remarks: "the truth is that TV tennis is to live tennis pretty much as video porn is to the felt reality of human love." I've stewed in recordings the past few months, and apart from the thunderous Elektra at Tanglewood, have not been witness to live opera in so long: so permit me to extend the comparison, and say that pirate recordings may be able to catch fleeting, fluttering moments of ecstasy and set them to material memory in magical sound bits, but nothing can come close to recreating the ultimate porn of being there, live, a hundred feet away from a mouth that bears the power to rearrange the molecules in the air at will, with a resonant terror that rouses all the hair on the body. Human love may be its only known measure, indeed.

I shall be planning my Met season this week, and buying the bulk of the potentially sold-out events, as funds permit. I count the days till the curtain rises for the first time this season, and I'm sick, sick, pukey sick of seeing images from that Butterfly production pasted all over every Met literature. (Peter Gelb, veteran of commercial megamarketing, enforces the cardinal rule of advertising: choose a schtick, and stick with it. Numb the brain with the brand. I haven't seen the ENO-imported Minghella production, supposedly fresh and creative, but really, I'm sick of the schtick already.)