Big Brother is paying you

The press in the UK has been full of hype about Lorin Maazel's new opera 1984 (it even has its own web site) which is about to premiere at Covent Garden, and fellow music blogger Jessica Duchen has given it some space.

Covent Garden's poster for Maazel's new opera, 1984

I thought it was just me that was confused. Maazel a composer? Maazel an opera composer? Maazel deserving a new production at Covent Garden? Maazel, the guy that 'created' a rather dreadful thing called Ring Without Words which stitched all those bleeding cunks of Wagner together, and got rid of all those pesky voices that spoil the orchestral sounds, then recorded it for Telarc with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Maazel? The modest and humble composer whose web site's url is

Then yesterday's Guardian explained it wasn't me. Maazel's opera 1984 is being produced at Covent Garden as a 'vanity' work. Maazel's own production company is picking up £400,000 of the total £900,000 cost. (I presume he also subsidised the Wagner potpourri in the same way?). Click this link for the full Guardian article.

The Guardian quotes a Covent Garden insider as describing the opera as 'crap' (although in fairness it hasn't premiered yet, so no reviews are available, and any comments are totally subjective). But that means half a million pounds of our money may be going into subsidising 'crap'. (The Covent Garden staging was to be a co-production with Tokyo Opera, but interestingly the Japanese pulled out).

If the opera does turn out to be 'crap' the musician with teeth, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is right to worry about the future of serious music.

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Christopher said…
I remember attending an SF Symphony concert featuring the World Premier of a new Violin Concerto. The performance elicited a huge ovation from much of the audience.

Afterwards a bewildered elderly walked up to me and said, “excuse us, young man... we were wondering if we could ask you your opinion? We try to be open to new music, but for the life of us we don’t understand what people liked about that piece. Is it just us? Are we getting to old to appreciate music like that?”

I told them no. The piece was god awful and they were right to think so. Then I asked them if they happened to see Thea Musgrave’s wonderful Viola Concerto which was performed a few weeks earlier. They said that they had and enjoyed it. “See. It has nothing to do with age. It’s just that you can tell the difference between good and bad music.” (all paraphrasing a 10 year old conversation)

Maybe with the advent of blogging we can finally get some people documenting all the bad modern music that’s out there.

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