I went to dinner yesterday with a friend of mine. An opera singer. A producer. An arranger. A super fabulous lady with glossy hair, perfect figure and talent oozing from her pores. The type of girl that if she weren’t so lovely and self-effacing you’d sit there in bewildered awe. As with any girly catch up, conversation flitted seamlessly between footwear, flossing and Fauré, but one of her quirky quotes of the night stuck with me: ‘Trouble with Mozart operas, darling, is that they’re 40 minutes too long.” For someone who got rave reviews for her portrayal of Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan Tutte, I found this rather alarming but coming from her, highly thought-provoking…
“Hello, do you want to come into a stuffy hall and be subjected to nearly 4 hours of music that you don’t know or understand, where you can’t speak, cough, wriggle, text, browse, eat or drink? Oh, and the lyrics are all foreign too.” Hmmm. It’s not the perfect date night, is it? And yet if you’ve done your homework, have read up on the story, have listened to a few of the foxy arias in advance, have switched off your mobile, have prepared yourself mentally for an evening of time travel back to the days when they were still banging on about the same issues relevant to today (love, betrayal, jealousy, pride), it can be the most uplifting, spiritually enhancing, and spine-tingly dramatic and thrilling night out.
Mozart operas may well be 40 minutes too long. To some they’re 3 hours and 40 minutes too long. A Haydn string quartet may appear dull as ditch-water. A Palestrina mass may be like ‘yer what?’ But if presented in the right context, given a splash of local colour and a soupçon of passion, I believe strongly that classical music is as helpful, relevant and necessary as any other musical and artistic genre out there today.
During 2017, both in this column and on my weekly radio show ‘Get Classical with FJ’ at ICR (105.7FM) Mondays 6pm to 7pm, I hope to dispel the myth that classical music is out of reach. I’ll be highlighting the classical events in the county, waxing lyrical about the art form and inviting talented teens onto my show to start spreading the classical gospel.
Please do Get in Touch. Please do Get Classical.
Merry Christmas! I’m off to Get Married!