Thursday, 21 January 2016

Who's Afraid of Opera?

  Stacks, the Marine, thought he'd like to see an opera but wouldn't understand what was going on. 
  'Surely it's not like the footie where you can just turn up to and get what's going on from the off?'
  I googled Who’s Afraid Of Opera? for him to watch.

  And found this...

  Panda's Thumb reports that elementary music teacher Teresa Wagonner was put on paid administrative leave by the superintendent of schools in Bennett, Colorado. Her offence? Playing a twelve-minute clip from the thirty-year-old children's series Who's Afraid of Opera? for her classroom. The series features legendary soprano Joan Sutherland and some cute little hand-puppets who alternate elementary explanations of the libretti with vocal performances of selections from the operas featured. Apparently, Ms. Wagonner's selected episode, Gounod’s Faust, angered fundamentalist Bennettians, already on the warpath over Waggoner's musical choices for last year's Christmas pageant.

  What did she choose, I wonder? A special arrangement for children's chorus of "Jesus was a Cock-Sucking Jew from Galilee?" The English tune for "Away in a Manger"?  Katherine Jenkins's Festive Blu-ray? 

  Tacked onto the above report were the following:

  Apparently we now know who is afraid of opera.

  Once again confirming my prejudice that the Christian right is opposed to all that is good and human. Yeah. Fire a teacher because your country has a traditional separation of church and state that has allowed government and religion to prosper alongside one another for two hundred years.

  Please note in the description of the town meeting, over fifty people turned out in support of Wagonner while six appeared opposing her. Despite this overwhelming show of support, the school superintendent is cravenly bending to the will of a loud and disruptive - but very small - group of people.  Furthermore, this group of people, in claiming that Faust is somehow about abortion - and being taken seriously - is beyond absurd. Lies are being given credence as facts in the name of God. Well, of course, there is the history of organized religion right there in a nutshell.

  Public schools are funded equally by parents and non-parents alike, and I'd like to vote that my taxes go towards buying students copies of The Invisibles. I want the schmuck taking care of me in the old folk's home or, alternatively, gunning me down once I turn thirty, or processing me into Soylent Green food, to be a really weird fucker!

  Bennett sounds like a hateful little town. And it is little - look up Bennett, CO on google maps. It's a dusty little speck miles from any other town. The residents there should be happy they have a decent music teacher with any sort of passion for her work. I hope she finds work some place sane. Too bad about the kids, tho'.

  While I agree with the sentiment expressed in your post immediately above, your facts are clearly wrong. Bennett is about thirty miles or so from downtown Denver, hardly 'miles from any town'. Though the front range area of Colorado is trying to grow and sprawl like the El Lay basin, it has a ways to go yet. Bennett will in the not too distant future be a suburb of Denver, not unlike where you live in relation to downtown Los Angeles.  Thank you. 

  No, thank youWhoops,  I obviously didn't pull out far enough on the Google map. But still - call me an out of touch city slicker, but while Bennett may some day be part of the suburban sprawl, right now it looks awfully isolated. And judging by the townsfolk's reaction to that new subdivision, that's the way they like it. BTW: all of LA is sprawl. 'Downtown LA' is just another neighborhood.

  Like I said, I agreed with what you were saying. Bennett was isolated from the big cow-town of Denver; but with a major freeway, and people with money wanting privacy and isolation, it is developing into a suburb. This is an example of the interesting dichotomy of such a town as it experiences its growing pains while it gets absorbed into the mainstream. The same kinds of issues that Denver went through in the last twenty years as all of us Californians moved here and ruined the place.  

  Exactly how inappropriate can this be? The inclusion of puppets should be enough to let you know that the video was created with young children in mind. But I’m puzzled as to how the deal with the devil gets across with the puppets?

  Boito's Mefistofele is a far superior opera. 

  The video was in the school library. This music teacher is ever so nice, really, and she has two CDs out of her own Christian music. 

  Seriously, she could have shown Turandot or Salome - then we'd have the cute girls in the class running about lopping the boys' heads off.

  Seriously? A six year old? Watching Faust? With the Devil and the demons and the killing and all that? It's not exactly The Smurfs. Did she forget what it's like to be six and be afraid of the dark and what was under the bed. I wouldn't want my six year old to be shown The Ten Commandments either, for that matter. Lots of snakes and blood and stuff in that too.

  Maybe she should have started small, say with that cartoon that we all learnt opera from; What's Opera Doc? Nobody doesn't like Bugs and Elmer.

  Doesn't that 'toon feature Bugs in full drag, with boobs and blonde pigtails? Can't imagine that going over well with these nutters.

  I don't want my kids to watch Donald Duck in Mathamagic Land in school because I think they're still not ready to be initiated into the Pythagorean mysteries, and that's a parent's decision, not the school board's.

  And then there's my favourite:

  We can't have kids thinking it's okay to go around hollering!

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