Thursday, December 6, 2007

Royal Pains In The Ass

Due to today's sadly confused political agendas, minorities are frequently forced to cope with the pathetic delusions of right-wing Reagan administration assholes like our not-so-beloved Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, William Bradford Reynolds, who recently accused Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of trying to achieve "a radically egalitarian society" based on a "liberal social agenda" that could be "the major threat to individual liberty." According to Mr. Reynolds, that liberal social agenda "has little or no connection with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or any subsequent amendment."

Well, excuse me, Mary, but what ever happened to the premise that all men are created equal? That this country offers liberty and justice for all? Or that America is the land of equal opportunity, the great melting pot of the Western Hemisphere? As the old saying goes: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. My guess is that Mr. Reynolds may eventually do for civil rights what Florence Foster Jenkins did for the art of song and Princess Margaret did for fashion.

At one point or another, each of us has had to deal with an evil queen. Unfortunately, the noblesse oblige of such creatures occasionally makes us forget that the selfishness of kings is no laughing matter, either. Two recent and rather dreary productions proved beyond a doubt that the power of the crown can be a royal pain in the ass.


All the hoo-ha surrounding the American premiere of Aulis Sallinen's The King Goes Forth to France would have had one believe that the Finnish composer's new opera was the greatest piece of music written since The Magic Flute. And, without doubt, most of the material I had read about the opera made it sound interesting, original and even daring (its story begins as England is being swallowed by glaciers in a futuristic ice age).

Promises, promises. The score contains a phenomenal amount of academic noise intended to support a political allegory about man, war and the destruction of the human race. And although I loved John Conklin's sets (especially his fiercely threatening iceberg), after fifteen minutes, I could not muster the slightest bit of sympathy for any of the characters onstage. Two years ago, shortly after a performance of Henze's We Come to the River had begun, I remember remarking to my companion that the evening had all the earmarks of a pretentious piece of shit. At intermission of The King Goes Forth to France, this same man turned to me and said "At least, with We Come to the River, we knew where they were going!"

Credit should be given to the cast, which worked extremely hard to give a good performance. Alas, no matter how much Richard Buckley struggled to make magic in the pit, Sallinen's opera had minimal appeal to me. You can probably hear more interesting music on the evening news.

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This "Tales of Tessi Tura" column originally appeared in the Bay Area Reporter on October 2, 1986.

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