From the Faraway Nearby – No. 1

- April 11, 2012

"A new wave of theatrical criticism?"

First of all, let me explain the title of this post and those to come. I often find interesting/intriguing items about arts and culture as I troll various websites, RSS feeds and publications from around the world and want to share them here in Santa Fe. “From the Faraway Nearby” seems as apt a title for these posts as any. The absolute origin of the phrase is unclear to me, although it was the title of both a 1937 painting by Georgia O’Keeffe and a song by Cyndi Lauper (actually Lauper’s song was titled: “The Faraway Nearby”). Miss O’Keeffe also used it in many of her letters as she wrote to friends on the East Coast from New Mexico. So, I don’t have any sense of plagiaristic guilt in using it.

A new wave of theatrical criticism?
As reported in the Moscow News, a woman who attended a premiere at the newly-refurbished Bolshoi Theater took theater criticism to new heights by suing in a Moscow court for one million rubles ($33,760 US) for having to endure the Bolshoi’s controversial staging of  Mikhail Glinka’s opera, “Ruslan and Lyudmila.” The plaintiff, Muscovite Svetlana Voronina, demanded compensation “for the moral agony experienced when watching the performance.” Voronina also demanded that the production, directed by Dmitry Chernyakov, be removed from the Bolshoi Theater program. Chernyakov’s production, which premiered on Nov. 2, 2011, was the first premiere on the newly opened historic stage of the Bolshoi Theater. The opera was greeted with controversy, and after the premiere the audience was divided, some shouting “bravo” and others shouting “shame,” in a way reminiscent of the reception of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” in June of 1913, almost 99 years ago – proof positive that tastes change, but the resistance to change remains constant.

“How do I love this…let me count the ways…”
Somehow I wish her suit had been successful and that there would be no statute of limitations on such court actions. I can think of so many productions I have seen, from my childhood on, which deserved such compensation from the “defendants” responsible for such “moral agony.”

Now about that production of “Sound of Music” in 1957…Oh, yes, as I remember I WAS outraged!  Where’s is my attorney’s number?