19 December 2004

Pirate Defense

Yesterday's Corrupt Tannhaeuser

The Met needs to launch a separate fundraiser for new technology. If this is the best they can do, if this is the product they're trying to sell for $150 million, we're not buying. It's as if the goal of these broadcasts is to strip away the glorious acoustics of the Metropolitan Opera auditorium. I'm listening to this crap, and I'm thinking it could well be happening at a Walmart store in Indiana. Lifeless, totally false, shamelessly amateur, a colossal insult to the artists and to the opera-loving folk.

I'm so disgusted I had to put on a copy of a pirate Tannhaeuser recording made by a friend of a friend of a friend (of a friend of a friend ...) to cleanse this crap out of my system. The proof is all there:

(a) The signal range coming from the FM broadcast is about -30 to -12 dB, while the pirate recording uses -30 to around -2 dB: from college physics, recall that these are logarithmic values, and therefore the stretch from -12 to -2 dB differential is wider than the FM range of -30 to -12 dB. Therefore, on radio, the boy-soprano shepherd is as loud as a Voigt forte; everyone seems to be singing mezzo-forte consistently through the opera; Wolfram's harp is about as energetic as the entire Wagnerian orchestra and bleating chorus.

(b) The pirate recording carries the awesome reverb of the hall, making Voigt's and De Young's intense vocalization readily accessible to anyone but the deaf.

(c) The treble/bass extremes are absent from the radio broadcast, which can lull a baby to sleep, while my apartment shakes, the glass windows vibrate in resonance every time I play the pirate recording, and my neighbors are a step closer to a bloody lawsuit.

All this foolishness diminishes the experience of opera. Natural ears don't hear in such a truncated range cleansed of overtones and reverb. Certainly, the natural ears' experience in the hall more closely resembles the pirate recording rather than this crap on my radio. Voigt's majestic "Dich teure Halle" greets a magical hall of song, not the backroom of an East Village bar. One is foolish to throw their Voigt fan club membership card because of the broadcast; though not apparent on radio, I must assure that the B natural is there, in its full gleaming glory, and the full column of Voigt sound is relentlessly on pitch. I wish you could hear what I'm playing on my CD player right now.

Disclaimer: upon publication of this blog post, and on advice of counsel, I have destroyed the pirate recording, burned any traces of it, disowned the friend who provided it, told him to go to the confessional and admit his sin against the holy copyright laws of the holy American empire, put my left hand on Rasponi's The Last Prima Donnas, swore with my right never again to partake in such barbaric activity.