Thursday, May 29, 2008
La Scala officials say the Italian composer Giorgio Battistelli has been commissioned to produce an opera on Al Gore’s documentary hit, “An Inconvenient Truth” for the 2011 season at the Milan opera house. The composer is currently artistic director of the Arena in Verona.
Ok, so here’s the thing about cultural trajectories that end up at “opera”.
Look, I am completely fine with saying that Al Gore’s efforts have helped push environmentalism into mainstream culture by aligning celebrities with the word “Green” and making it hip to recycle and own a hybrid car. There’s very little wrong with that. Nothing even. It’s great. It’s actually having an effect. Good.
But when you end up writing an opera about a cultural movement or entity, you know it’s basically reached a sort of cringeworthy point. This is what happened with the story of Lindy Chamberlain and the dingo stealing her baby. There were the news reports, the cultural fascination that swept the world probably due in large part to the media creating a story out of it, there was the movie with Meryl Streep and then eventually, some god damned pretentious tool named Moya Henderson in Australia came up with the delusional idea to write an opera about the story using the court transcript as libretto. Because it plays out like an opera. Yes. Of course.
And it was set to horrendous music and people left in intermission. I remember them leaving.
I’m just really unsure what exactly about a documentary that features Al Gore standing on a crane for an hour and a half explaining facts about the earth actually resonates as opera. La Scala clearly wants some international paparazzi based press.
Actually, no. I’m sort of interested in what they come up with. While the Lindy Chamberlain opera was dissonant and insufferable, Opera Australia premiered another opera called “The Eighth Wonder” about the scandals that surrounded the building of the Sydney Opera House and it was essentially just a musical sung by Opera singers. They had the angry mob singing in unison “High Schools! High Schools! We don’t need and Opera House” to the organising committee.
It was a little bit Broadway, a little bit pretentious Australian art, a little bit hilarious.
Perhaps with this they’ll have a stately lead charging about with marimba arpeggios in the background and little opera chorus boys can be dressed as snowflakes who turn around with their arms above their heads. One of them falls over and his mother in the front row yells at him to get up. Then they all start to melt when the yellow light comes on. That’s global warming. Symbolically.