Nude and Naked Opera

Paul Russell: When entertainment becomes political, readers take interest

Many of the letters we receive deal with social, political or religious issues (and sometimes all three). So it was refreshing this week to have a new focal point: Entertainment.

Terence Corcoran led readers in this new direction, with his column last Friday titled: “La Demenza dell’Opera; Why is the Canadian Opera Company assailing its audience with faddish postmodernism and garish gender-bending sexuality?”

His “get back to the basics” viewpoint sparked scores of letters, with our readership evenly divided about the merits of modern opera.

“I would like to thank Terence Corcoran for addressing the absurdity of recent Canadian Opera Company (COC) productions,” wrote Anna Danielova. “As an opera lover who has been going to the COC for the past nine years, I was disturbed by the recent productions. The nudity in Tristan und Isolde was not a first. I recall another production when there were about 20 absolutely naked men on stage showing all their parts. In its current form, opera becomes a form of art that I am questioning exposing my kids to.”

Other readers suggested that Mr. Corcoran, a Financial Post editor, stay with his day job.

“While I am a regular reader and fan of Mr. Corcoran’s writing on finance and politics, his analysis of the COC demonstrates why writers need to stick to their expertise,” wrote Bill Siegel. “If he thinks the opera company missed its mark, he should look in the mirror.”

“I vehemently disagree with Mr. Corcoran’s assessment of the COC’s Tristan und Isolde,” added Janos Gardonyi. “The giant-sized video imagery, which Mr. Corcoran savages, made this show unforgettable. I simply could not take my eyes off those images of confused consciousness, of the horror of approaching death and the dissolution of the body. For me, it was a night to treasure, and the thunderous ovation by the sold-out house proved it.”

The second entertainment-related topic that readers wanted to talk about was the film Argo. For days, readers debated whether Canadians should be upset that the movie did not fully acknowledge our key role in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Here are the last volleys in this debate.

“When I watched Argo, I made several comments to my wife concerning inaccurate facts,” wrote Brent Blackburn. “She reminded me that we were watching a Hollywood movie, not a documentary, and that the Von Trapp Family did not ‘climb every mountain’ when they left Austria — they left by train.”

“It’s always been my view that using any Hollywood film as an accurate source of information is unwise,” added Jerry Pryde. “Artistic liberties with facts are usually the stuff of any so-called historical film. As a Canadian, I don’t feel slighted at all. It’s what Hollywood directors and actors do — banking on public gullibility on both sides of the border to enhance their bank accounts.”

One reader said there could be a very good reason why Canada was not given credit for freeing hostages in Iran.

“In a post-Oscar interview, CNN’s Piers Morgan was talking to Ben Affleck and George Clooney,” wrote Ella Johnson. “Mr. Clooney announced that the Canadians were given credit for the rescue as a cover-up, so Iran would not know that the CIA was operating in the country, but now it is time that the ‘real story was told.’ ”

This reader said the misrepresentations in Argo pale in comparison to other films.

“I’ve seen biographies that don’t even show the correct form of death of the main character, so we can’t get too worked up about Argo,” wrote Lee Eustace. “ What we should get worked up about are political films made by Al Gore and Michael Moore that are full of misrepresentations, but presented to impressionable school children as ‘documentaries.’ ”

The final note on this subject proves that some Americans were grateful for Canada’s contribution.

“My family had the good fortune to be at Disney World in 1979,” wrote Gloria Dekter Romeo. “We were welcomed at the entrance with a huge banner that read, ‘Thank You, Canada!’ I had goose bumps when I saw the sign. All Canadians were given special souvenirs and thanks.”

–  High-ranking Roman Catholics (males only) are preparing to select their next leader, so this week seemed like a perfect time for the Letters page question of the week to be: “Can a new pope revitalize the Catholic Church?” (Watch for a full page of responses on Monday). But not everyone felt that question was fair, or would solicit useful answers.

“I am somewhat offended by the premise of this question, as it assumes the Catholic Church needs revitalizing,” wrote Leslie Tallosi. “If so, why is it anyone’s business, other than Catholics? I would be curious to see some of the hate-filled messages you will undoubtedly receive from religious bigots who find it acceptable to vilify the Church for not living up to their so-called ‘enlightened’ standards, i.e., abortion on demand, gay-whatever-the-topic-is-today, marriage of the clergy, etc.

“Long after these persons are rendered into dust, the Church will live on, strong and faithful,” Leslie Tallosi continued. “I have no doubt that the next pope will be exactly the proper person chosen.”

–  Speaking of the question of the week, readers’ suggestions for topics are always welcome. Such as this note:

“Since the public had a shot at the RCMP [two weeks, ago, readers were asked if they still trusted the RCMP], why not ask the same question about the press?” asked Joan P. Mitchell. “Can we trust the press? You could ask the same thing about the government. However, I would love to take aim at the press.”

Challenge accepted. Next week, watch for a question based on this suggestion.

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