Poison In Opinions
Not long ago I read several informal opinions on the presentation of Philip Glass‘ opera, Satyagraha, by the Metropolitan Opera. I say informal opinions because these were short comments on a handful of social media sites rather than actual critical reviews or articles. I mention this because I was struck by the somewhat intemperate tone taken by the writers of these messages; it is clear that the writers were not best pleased with either the production or the work itself, and in one case the writer was distressed by the fact that the Metropolitan Opera would even program such a piece. Naturally, the writers attached no significance to any favorable reviews or comments made by many others.
I trouble myself to mention this for several reasons, foremost among them the feeling I am left with—namely that it does a reader no service to take in baldly vituperative statements with no corroborative detail. The tone of most of the statements was, indeed, blankly dismissive, and in some cases scatological. It is now a commonplace to blame social media for what appears to be a general increase in incivility, but I am not certain that the Internet is the complete cause of this growth of unsupported and invasively negative opinion.
Bear in mind that I am not the greatest supporter of the Glass operas; neither Einstein On the Beach nor Satyagraha have ever appealed to me, although I found Akhnaten very moving and quite beautiful. But to dismiss any work as valueless or as “garbage” without supporting evidence or consideration as to why this should be so seems wrongheaded to me, and in this constriction of an opinion to one or two pithy (or, in this case, grubby) lines, I think that the popularity of social media does play a part.
So, let me turn this into a personal appeal: if you do not enjoy or appreciate Satyagraha, le Sacre du Printemps, Philomel, Powder Her Face, Pelléas et Mélisande, Wozzeck, The Wound Dresser, The Ghosts of Versailles, In C, A Survivor from Warsaw, Carmina Burana, or any other work of the last century or so, let us know—as temperately as possible, please—exactly why, so that we may compare your points to those of everyone who does enjoy them. Opinions need not be venomous.