Tag Archives: Blogging

The world of opera trolling in six emails

26 Feb

Opera TrollingHave had an interesting day receiving emails from a well-known opera board troll, that goes (mainly) by the name Genevieve(‘s) Castle Room and uses many other aliases to troll blogs and forums. His seems to be the only universal truth and the only person on the planet to appreciate the true musical nature of opera and to muse frequently why his own niche, even perverse taste is not the taste of the hoi polloi. One of his favourite party tricks seems to be to monitor conversations on Twitter and to cut and paste them to opera chat rooms and boards. So after I mentioned his offensive and blatantly misogynistic comments on Parterre.com in December, he emailed me to notify that his opinions are of course not misogynistic…cue canned laughter. I was in two minds into putting those out in the open but hopefully it will make him realise that his opinions are largely laughable in their strangely dogmatic form.

PS He seems to be terribly popular on Twitter with a grand total of followers of 35

My tweet this morning

Email 1 Titled: Parterre Comment

Dear George,

Just a brief note regarding your tweet this morning.

My final long comment on Parterre last December had NOTHING to do with misogyny.

It is simply a fact that the most sensitive and truly manic fans of opera tend to be men.

Sincerely,

Genevieve Castle Room (GCR)

Email 2 Titled: Most Beloved Operas

Dear George,

One final note if I may.

Please forward this to Mark Berry (Boulezian).

My Pelleas mania on forums and weblogs has given a wrong impression. I
actually have very wide tastes and adore a ton of operas. This list is
in NO WAY exhaustive, but it does represent my first batch of
essential works for continuous aesthetic nourishment if I were on that
desert island.

1) Pelleas et Melisande

2) Falstaff

3) Doktor Faust

4) Capriccio

5) The Return of Ulysses To His Homeland

6) De Temporum Fine Comoedia

7) Siegfried (always an indication of the most genuine Wagner lover)

8) Moses and Aron

9) The Love For Three Oranges

10) Mathis der Maler

11) Palestrina

12) The Mask of Orpheus

———-

Sincerely,

GCR

Email 3 Titled: Pfirzner, Hindemith, Busoni

George,

This will be my final query, promise.

I would appreciate your thoughts (however brief) on these two questions:

1. Why do wonderful operas like Palestrina, Mathis der Maler and
Doktor Faust attract only a small contingent of passionate lovers
today?

2. Among this great trio of lone operas which one do you think stands
a better chance of moving further away from ‘ivory tower’ seclusion
and closer towards the mainstream?

Thanks,

GCR

After this tweet the next email arrived

Email 4

George,

Please frame and re-tweet these 2 questions:

1. Why do wonderful operas like Palestrina, Mathis der Maler and
Doktor Faust attract only a small contingent of passionate lovers
today?

2. Among this great trio of lone operas which one do you think stands
a better chance of moving further away from ‘ivory tower’ seclusion
and closer towards the mainstream?

Thanks,

GCR

Email 5 Titled: Final Two Messages

George,

I will no longer send any queries if you agree to retweet my last 2
messages, ok?

Begin first message:

My Pelleas mania on forums and weblogs has given a wrong impression. I
actually have very wide tastes and adore a ton of operas. This list is
in NO WAY exhaustive, but it does represent my first batch of
essential works for continuous aesthetic nourishment if I were on that
desert island.

1)  Pelleas et Melisande

2)  Falstaff

3)  Doktor Faust

4)  Capriccio

5)  The Return of Ulysses To His Homeland

6)  De Temporum Fine Comoedia

7)  Siegfried (always an indication of the most genuine Wagner lover)

8)  Moses and Aron

9)  The Love For Three Oranges

10)  Mathis der Maler

11)  Palestrina

12)  The Mask of Orpheus

Sincerely,

GCR

———-

Begin second message:

1. Why do wonderful operas like Palestrina, Mathis der Maler and
Doktor Faust attract only a small contingent of passionate lovers
today?

2. Among this great trio of lone operas which one do you think stands
a better chance of moving further away from ‘ivory tower’ seclusion
and closer towards the mainstream?

Thanks,

GCR

Email 6 Titled: My Operatic Philosophy

George,

I forget to preface all of my messages with the first entry in my blog: (link deducted)

I also strongly endorse this position by A. C. Douglas:

===Begin quote===

There is today a growing number of MSM classical music critics as well
as ordinary operagoers who positively revel in the challenge of
“unpacking” (to use their oft-used term) the meaning of Konzept
Regietheater stagings of canonical operas as they might revel in the
challenge of solving a clever rebus or acrostic; perverse stagings
which today have become a pervasive practice worldwide. It never
occurs to these equally perverse souls (or perhaps it’s the very thing
that does occur to them) that any staging of an opera — any opera —
that requires unpacking in order to be understood upends the very
foundation of opera which seeks first and foremost to address itself
directly to one’s centers of feeling by virtue of its music rather
than to one’s intellect and is a veritable definition of what it means
to be perverse in this context as such a practice reduces the music to
the level of a mere (mostly inappropriate) soundtrack to the drama; a
drama that rarely, if ever, bears any true relation to the drama
created by the original opera’s creator.

===End quote===

Sincerely,

GCR

After this ridiculous parade of pointless correspondence wrote back a quickly drafted response being bored with my inbox receiving so must regurgitated nonsense.

My response

In my view opera doesn’t need another philosophy just an open mind. You sent terribly offensive messages to Mark Berry because you could not accept that other people have a different view from you, demonstrating a shocking lack of tolerance.
The constant cut and paste of quotes is both yawn inducing and pointless. Interestingly for someone that frowns at academics, your own diatribes are littered with references not unlike a bland report by a musicologist. Making them terribly desperate and cringe worthy in your insistence to find sources to support your pointless arguments. All your reactions seem to be a cry for attention. I do not wish to be part of this theatre of the absurd and to add to your inflated/warped sense of self.
We all come to an opera house to be part of something pleasurable and at times revelatory. I do not want to think that a finger wagging “arbiter of taste” like yourself is a reflection of the lively opera scene. And thankfully I know from experience, you are just a fossil from a bygone era. Your niche taste in works that have proven time and time again to be commercial and artistic disasters is frankly silly and juvenile.
Let’s agree to disagree and to accept that there are many avenues to loving and appreciating a complex art form like opera. But what it really needs is fans that do not get stuck into pathetic mud slinging and instead promote it out there to friends and relatives and get as many people exposed to it as possible.
You clearly enjoy living in your airless castle room but the rest of us want to celebrate a great, vibrant art form that too frequently falls in the hands of the wrong people and becomes a caricature of its potential greatness and a museum object.
I refuse to continue this conversation as it is against the very nature of Twitter. It has to be a live, public, snappy conversation not a tiresome email parade of cut and pasted pieces you have written months previously. All you seem to do is just monitor conversations and then email people I talk to…which is both creepy and pointless.
Thanks for contacting me but please refrain from doing that in the future. As I am not in the least interested in reading your philosophy or random musings why the whole world is wrong. Have you ever considered that maybe the rest of the world may not be interested in what you have to say? …so please walk away gracefully and stop it here.

Best
George

This will definitely be the last time I am in any way wasting my time engaging in any dialogue with this particular troll but the above is an interesting insight into a sad case of misplaced passion.
He does use a number of other aliases that it may be useful to list here: Elie Hampton / Nicholas Lederer / Mark N and Jacinto Fernandez.

 

I’m still alive and blogging

20 Nov

I have to admit in going through a time of reassessment. As I was tweaking the look of the site by simplifying graphics and making it a bit sharper, I started thinking who I blog for and why I do it.

Taking a small break made me both miss it but also have the time to lavish on other things. I do have a backlog of semi-written pieces that will eventually publish, admittedly long after the event. Have rarely been bothered about being terribly topical or to attend every opening night so I can write the first piece on the web. Being first  is not what motivates me…and I am surely not immodest enough to think that my musings are anyone’s essential reading.

But love to relay some of the joy of being present for interesting and even astounding performances. And holding the hope that someone may be inspired to go out there and buy some tickets, listen to the radio broadcast or even buy a recording.

In the last week I managed to put together three of curtain call videos which will fill the gap before the next proper post.

Faux outrage goes hand in hand with faux artistry

8 Oct

This morning I read this blog post by James Rhodes, who I was not that impressed by when I saw live last year, it has to be said. And while I agree totally with his trashing of the brand of classical music the Classic BRITs are promoting, I could not stop thinking about the obvious disjunction of that blog post and Mr Rhodes’ own career path. A man who seems to be unhappy to be called a concert pianist most of the time and now coming out on his blog to somehow be the supporter of “proper” classical music…

Unfortunately for Mr Rhodes his audience is of the same demographic as the people who buy tickets for the BRITs. I was saddened to see a lot of people repost Rhodes’ faux outrage drivel. If you want to read a reasoned and well argued piece try this one by Chris Gillett, he surely is not writing out of bitterness.

Here is my response to the blog post in case the Telegraph deletes it from their site:

While I agree with most points, I find it intriguing, coming from Mr Rhodes, a product of the great pop machine that was used up and spat out by Warner Music. His first double album was out on a pop/rock label and being promoted to the same people who the Classic BRITs are addressed to. To come out all outraged that the very line of business he agreed to be part of, is somehow offending his latent sensibilities seems totally hypocritical.
I would like to know how many times has Mr Rhodes been invited by any serious orchestras to play with them in his capacity as the “non threatening piano dude”?
Anyone can rent a hall and pretend to be a concert pianist but not many are in demand by the LSO, LPO, BBCSO, Philharmonia etc.
Jenkins and Watson and their peers are total frauds with very little talent and training. But despite what Mr Rhodes’ fans may have convinced themselves he is…he remains at best a gifted amateur. Hope his recent career choice to move to a serious classical label will bear some fruit in the future, but save us the faux outrage.

Culture as an Olympic sport

5 May

In the last few weeks I have been having some interesting exchanges on Twitter that have had mainly as their subject the viewing of live opera at the two main stages in London. I came across a very distinct group of people that seem to not discriminate between performances, and casts but to just book for absolutely everything that is know so they can have an encyclopaedic armoury of live performances behind them. This kind of attitude is equally alien and fascinating to me. It also creates a rather intriguing kind of snobbish attitude:  “oh you haven’t seen every single performance at the Royal Opera this season how dare you criticise them”. I find those people totally incomprehensible and at the same time I pity them if they only have one interest in their lives. I find that part of being a human being is to try to expose ourselves to a plethora of artistic practises as a way to enrich our being. But never saw attending live events a way to increase to my own personal cache as a validated human being. Most of the times it’s about sharing a fantastic night out with a loved one.

I refuse, point blank,  to attend every single show our Artistic Director overlords will put in front of us in the numerous concert halls and opera houses. As such one has to be discerning and to put their money where their mouth is and not spread their bets like a vapid gambler. For me the following are the main concerns I have when I pick performances and frequency of attendance:

Free time

Music performances, opera, museums, galleries, historic houses, walks all take time to do and surely my free time is both valuable and not exactly limitless.

Quality of life

My particular kind of approach to life is to enjoy it as much as I can and put my dearest people first in whatever happens. And if possible doing the above while being as comfortable as possible. So crappy seats for favourite artists are our of the question…I’d rather listen to a recording than seat in the Amphitheatre seats of the ROH.

Taste

I do have a particular taste, in visual arts, music, film and theatre. That is the accumulation of the last 33 years of my life and hopefully allows me to judge when to take informed risks with novelties.

Favourites

I do have particular favourites that I will always get off my bum and go and see as frequently as possible. That doesn’t make me ignorant or a blind fan, it offers me the possibility of more pleasure by artists I find inspiring and significant.

Outspoken

I am particularly outspoken, when I witness greatness I am more than happy to report it, when I honestly think a particular venture is pointless, I’ll say so. But dear reader that is my personal take and it doesn’t have to conform to the rules made by those “cultural Olympians”. And I outright discard their criteria.

Finances

As I always pay with my own hard earned cash I have the ultimate say of where it gets spent. And believe me I’d rather spend it buying some bulbs for the garden or some paint that on the new faddish vehicle the English National Opera has come up with. My Twitter name is OperaCreep, it doesn’t mean to preclude other interests, it just signifies my intense pleasure and interest in the particular artform.

Not aiming for the medal

I do not aim to be awarded a medal in this silly and frankly pointless quest to go to every single concert and performance that ever takes place in London town. My aim in life is to have a great time and to go to as many events to enrich my inner life. Which also may mean avoiding anything else that doesn’t fit my outlook or pleasure tolerances.

Read if you like

I am always grateful when people read my ramblings about cultural or not matters and have forged some great friendships around them, exchanging views and tips with other opera and visual art enthusiasts. But my blog and Tweets come with one major disclaimer, if you don’t like what you read, please stop reading, as you will not convince me on the errs of my ways and I’d rather spend my time having interesting, meaningful conversations with some great people out there that have something to say. And above all trying to keep it all fun, enjoyable and decent.

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