Monday, May 23, 2005

"2005", the opera

My post about "1984" seems to have generated quite a noise (if a blog can be said to be noisy), not least from Clive Davis (hi Clive, I sense a kindred spirit there!), 'Pliable' at The Overgrown Path and Tim Worstall, who kindly credits me with a touch of class. Among other things, I find I've been praised for having the courage to change my view about this opera.

This got me thinking:

1. I didn't change my view, because I didn't have one. I'd read the libretto and thought it excellent; I'd ploughed through all the background material provided by the ROH, which told me that the team involved were thoroughly professional; but I had had no access to even a note of the music. So I didn't make a judgement in my Indy article, because I had nothing to judge.

2. That's the problem with writing about world premieres before they happen. Nobody can guarantee what they're going to sound like.

3. What really 'narked' me about some of the writing in the British press was that some of my respected colleagues decided to trash the thing BEFORE they'd heard a note, simply because a) Maazel was paying for some of it himself, b) he'd never written an opera before, c) some unnamed source in the ROH had told The Guardian that it was 'crap' (unnamed sources are so useful, aren't they?! I've only ever used one once - years ago, in a piece for The Guardian... Long story for another occasion). The tone of these writers were such that anyone would have thought Prince Charles had tried his hand at writing an opera - not someone who has been highly respected in the musical world for nearly half a century and is currently musical director of the NY Philharmonic. I seem to remember that once upon a time someone accused of a crime used to be innocent until proven guilty. That's a principle I like to uphold. OK, so the outcome wasn't so great, but it did look like it was worth giving the thing a chance.

Anyway, I'm not really a critic. I am now - oh yes yes yes - a NOVELIST! At the kitchen table I am currently surrounded by piles of pages from Novel No.1, just back from the copy-editor. I've got two weeks to finalise the text before it goes to be typeset. Anything I don't change now will outlive me on a shelf somewhere. In between wondering whether a reference to cafe latte has to be italicised, whether the cat really says 'miaow', not 'meow' and whether the Russian character is still too much like - oh, never mind who - I've been pinching myself and wondering how this happened at all. Someone has EDITED my NOVEL??? Someone actually agreed to publish it? I am dreaming, aren't I?

Perhaps one day it'll be a good source for an opera called "2005". If so, I shall choose the composer myself.