Sometimes, I have to admit, I prided myself to belong to a fringe group whose members are said to possess outstanding qualities and social skills: Empathy, taste, concern, supportiveness, sensitivity, just to name a few. The margin group I am talking about here is — of course — that of the
To be able to be admitted into the rows of this illustrious group of aesthetes, you have to fulfill various criteria I narrowly match, or so I thought up until recently.
- Never buy any CD labeled “Best of Classic” or similar.
- Roll eyes if someone doesn’t know the exact year of Rosa Ponselle’s stage debut, e.g. The eyesroll can be achieved with some practise, and by the way, it was 1918, of course!!)
- Know hilarious little stories and delightful snippets about famous singers, and always tell them at least as if you have been told by a dear friend and unquestionable source, and not like if you have looked them up somewhere. (E.g.: “You know, a dear friend of mine told me, oh my, I don’t know if I really should tell this,”… *please pester me!*— if you are a fellow Lover Of Classical Music or ever hope to be called one, comply. “Alright, but don’t tell anyone! You know, when Wunderlich and Prey sang Zauberflöte together, Prey secretly put a portrait of himself into the pendant of the necklace, so Wunderlich had to look at Prey’s picture all the time while singing “Dies Bildnis…” *conspiratorial giggle ensuing you have to join!*
Into this category of course also fall conspiracy theories concerning Wunderlich’s premature death, the astounding fact that La Ponselle wasn’t too fond of scarves and persistently had all windows wide open at all times in her change room at the MET, or details about sexual habits and, of course, major dramas. “Callas had a miscarriage you know, that’s why….. ” etc. etc.” You get the picture.
- Be a true fan! Be judgmental! No matter how hard you have to work to achieve it, you have to be. It is NOT enough to say, “Callas/Araiza/Kasarova/Jaroussky/… is my favourite singer of all times I think, she/he moves me, I don’t know, she/he is special; I think I’m in love.”
If you want to be a Lover Of Classical Music, this just isn’t enough! You have to despise all the others, at least after the concert, when you got an autograph, not necessarily cat-calling during the ovations or stating the point with stubborn silence and crossed hands, with a pose and expression to instantly make the room temperature around you drop significantly. It doesn’t even matter if your critique is founded on some evidence or if you know anything about singing — you can, it is definitely a plus, but there is no need for it. Always compare one singer to the other. If someone is not “better” than someone else, where would be the point?
- Make the critique personal. To criticise the music — a phrasing, a certain colour of the voice, tempi, etc. — would require background and some practise, all of which you don’t need to have to be a Lover Of Classical Music. Your critique should be personal, and mention the physical appearance, nationality, and assumed sexual orientation of a singer as well; if nothing else helps, also stress those features in the fan/critique of the opposing faction.
The guy posting “Haha he is gay,” under every Jaroussky video on youtube is definitely on a good way here.
- Don’t be a musician yourself or in fact play any musical instrument; Playing “Für Elise” on family occasions is narrowly alright.
- It is not about enjoyment, or fun! Being a Lover Of Classical Music is a serious matter! And, to stress the point, it is just not enough to never express more fondness than carrying a blessed facial expression at the d” of a certain singer — you also have to spoil other’s fun where you can! If nothing else helps, refer to their assumed ancestors to achieve it.
This comment thread serves as absolute reference of How To Behave for a true Lover Of Classical Music. I am sad to say, I will probably never be admitted. You neither, you say?
In seriousness, the discussion unfolding around the video below had me speechless for a while — a thing that rarely happens.
Tempra ancora lo zelo audace…
Vincenzo Bellini — Norma
Casta diva che inargenti
Queste sacre antiche piante
A noi volgi il bel sembiante
Senza nube e senza vel
Tempra o diva
Tempra tu de’ cori ardenti
Tempra ancoralo zelo audace
Spargi in terra quella pace
Che regnar tu fai nel ciel
O chaste Goddess, who silvers
These sacred ancient plants,
Turn thy beautiful semblance on us
Unclouded and unveiled.
Temper, o Goddess,
The brave zeal
Of the ardent spirits,
Scatter peace upon the earth.