Yet another inconvenient truth
Warner Classics has emailed journalists a promotional video of opera star Joyce DiDonato at the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the gay rights movement - see above. The press release states that she sang as a "Tribute to victims of intolerance and injustice", and that the intimate audience included activists who forced the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage. On May 1 Ms. DiDonato takes her Grammy nominated 'Drama Queens' project to the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. Article 223 of the Omani Penal Code states that: "Any one who commits erotic acts with a person of the same sex shall be sentenced to imprisonment from six months to three years". Same-sex marriage is, of course, not recognized in Oman. More inconvenient truths here.
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But where such matters as performances in places such as China or Oman are concerned, there are no excuses. Either you are aware of and concerned about the plentiful evils of this world today or you are not. If you are, or purport to be, you must keep aware, keep current, and behave accordingly. The fight against evils is something else that is not 'snackable', and the case that most bothered me recently was that of Ivan Fischer's appearance in Abu Dhabi.
I am reminded of what remains in my mind as the most remarkable 'musical sight' I've ever seen. Claudio Arrau left Chile at age eight and never lived there again. Rather, he became a very Germanic resident of the U.S. But after the Pinochet coup, he refused to perform in Chile. There was once on YT a video of him performing the 'Emperor' in a cathedral in Chile after Pinochet's fall, and the views of the audience riveted me. There were young children, smartly turned-out adults, people from rural areas who had walked into the city to hear and see 'Claudito', as he was still known, all with their eyes fixed on him with a look little short of adoration, if short at all, so much did he and his quiet gesture mean to them. If musicians need to be reminded of the power and influence for good they may have, they have lost touch with a tradition that goes back at least to the title page of the score of Beethoven's 'Eroica'. I am totally unbending on this. There is no Karajan in my collection, and most certainly no Karl Bohm, Clemens Krauss, Elly Ney...the notion of Beethoven filtered through such minds is obscene to me. A remaining mystery for me, by the by, is how Bohm, who urged the members of the VSO to vote for the Anschluss (as if they needed urging!) escaped untouched when Furtwangler was so relentlessly pursued. Today, as I snuffle and cough away, I'm going to listen to Arrau and Casals and think more on this.
It's the old question of whether it is possible of being good in a corrupt world. It may very well be that it is impossible. Brecht certainly came to that conclusion (in his "Der Gute mensch von Sezuan"). One can't do much else but condemn evil where ever one may go.
Didonato performing in Omar without at least criticizing their laws remains gross hypocrisy though, no doubt about that.