Culture rots from within. True, outside forces can also cause a decline in moral standards, especially in the wake of a war, and perhaps this is what has happened to Vienna, my most beloved city. There is a culture war going on, and based on what I saw here recently, Christianity and Western Civilization are losing. Badly.
I say this because I just went to the 2022 premier viewing of Carmen at the Stadtsopera Wien, and while the music and singing were true to the original, and of course the actual venue is superlative, it was obvious form the start that Bizet’s unique vision, of a free-spirited girl trapped in a tragic love triangle between two men, had been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness to score Woke Points ™.
You may think that the political signals excreted by what passes for today’s artistic class at an opera venue don’t matter one whit in a world that is on the brink of war, but I would argue that you’d be wrong. Some say art imitates life, but I’d say it’s more accurate, especially in a day and age in which the media, the government, and art are in lockstep with one another, that art imitates the regime. If I am right, based on this particular performance, the regime is evil, and the “art” that they are promoting is a poison that is killing us.
In Vienna’s version of the original classic, it’s almost as if the director had a clipboard with a Leftist checklist that needed to be completed in order to serve his masters, even if those elements served no purpose at all or made any sense within the thrust of the operatic drama’s plotline. Thus, inexplicably, at the beginning of act three, we open with a homoerotic dance, including full frontal male nudity, which had, so far as I can tell, absolutely nothing at all to do with the story itself. Then there was the obligatory interracial angle, because, of course, everyone knows that black pimps were commonplace in pre-War Spain, the period during which the opera is set. But, I suppose, why bother with historical accuracy, when everyone knows that the whole point of art is not to illuminate the soul by touching on eternal truths but rather to teach White folk how racist they are? The Piece de Grotesquerie, however, which sunk this obscenity into the category of pure evil, was the pedophile angle, in which an obviously underage girl who is playing with toys under a Christmas tree is groomed for prostitution by her own mother. That’s just sick. Carmen herself, by the way, is reduced to little more than a whore, and of course little is left to the imagination in that department. Oral sex, rape, drunken orgies…it’s all there in 2022. News flash: it wasn’t there in 1875 when Bizet wrote his masterpiece.
Yes, the music is the same, and the orchestra was superb-as were the singer/leads and cast of the show, but who in God’s name actually likes this stuff? Well, apparently the very well-heeled Viennese crowd liked it. A lot, based on the number of encores they awarded the cast when the curtain came down.
And that brings me to my point. Yes, we can decry those who shove this crap down our throats, and we should. But we don’t have to applaud them for it, and we don’t have to support them with our time or money. But we do. And yes, I did too, by attending the event, but I will say in my defense that as this was the premier viewing of the play, I really had no way to know in advance what dribble it consisted of. Now I do, and I’m telling you about it.
Every time a production like this is rewarded, it lessens all of us a little. A tiny fragment of the edifice that is Western Civilization is chipped away, and eventually we will find that there’s nothing left of it. It took our ancestors over two thousand years to build it. Maybe it’s time we started asking ourselves what the world will be like when it’s gone?
Wow, Johnathan. I’m beyond disappointed to read this because I know your description is accurate and honest. Such dismay I feel. I’ve seen a few movies lately that now include reference of the vague, more than vague, or blatant exposure of these “checklists” that have zero, zip, nada to do with the plot, and more to do with the “anything goes” culture that is hell-bent on becoming the norm.
Humanity has sunk to a new low. Sad to see the performing arts have to succumb to disrespecting the author, in order to kow-tow to the morally and socially bankrupt woke…..which is not a majority, but whose reckless steamroller is chugging along, plowing down what’s left of human decency.
Yes, Becky, Hollywood long ago took this route, but I’d hoped that in Vienna at least there would be some semblance of what once was left of our culture…and there is, but it’s mostly found under bulletproof glass in a museum.