A Time for Merry Persiflage

Tonight Mark and I and his parents went to the Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company’s free outdoor summer performance of “The Mikado.” They’re doing it again at the Lake Harriet Bandshell (where we saw it) tomorrow night at 5:30. I recommend it to Twin Cities residents if you can make it–there aren’t many mosquitoes down by Lake Harriet yet this year, and it’s free, and you will have before you such joys as Christopher Michela playing the Mikado.

(As far as I am concerned, he can reprise that role yearly. They can put the Mikado in “Yeomen of the Guard” and have Christopher Michela play him. They can put him in “Othello” for all I care and suddenly I am trying not to let my brain work at that for fear of what would come out.)

Among the joys of this production is that the entirety of “I’ve Got a Little List” is modern reference, which is entirely appropriate for Gilbert and Sullivan. Better still, they specifically called out the Orchestra Board as people who renovate the hall and then lock out the musicians. They got cheers for that line, more prolonged than for anything else in the song. And yes, I did clap and hoot. Loudly. It was not even a slightly mixed reaction from that crowd.

This week the Orchestra management canceled the Summerfest concerts to the surprise of precisely zero people. They offered, when they were canceling the last of the season, that we could have Summerfest tickets, and we said o ho ho it is to larf. But we weren’t actually laughing then, and we’re not laughing now. Mark is reading a book about music theory–I’ll get to it when he’s done–and one of the things it talks about is how venues shape types of music. Orchestra Hall without an orchestra is frankly a pretty dumb concert venue. You can put a folk concert in there, or a jazz combo, or a rock band, and we’ve been to all of the above. But it is for orchestras. It’s for our orchestra.

At least it’s for what’s left of it.

We’re trying to figure out what to do about the SPCO season, because it’s a very different kind of orchestra than the larger, fuller Minnesota Orchestra, and frankly we like the MN Orchestra style better mostly, and also (again speaking quite candidly) the MN Orchestra at its best is a better orchestra. I don’t mean anything against SPCO–it’s amazing that we can have two professional-quality orchestras at all, if in fact we can. But SPCO is not generally asked to play Carnegie Hall. And the SPCO musicians…were not, shall we say, treated ideally in their settlement.

So what do we do? Do we act like the SPCO season is our main chance at orchestral music for the year and plan accordingly? Do we get tickets for one or two shows that are the really exciting ones and hope for a MN Orchestra settlement? The paper ran an article about how this time around the management did not get nasty and personal with the propaganda around the cancellations, and I stared at the page, thinking, “Really? That’s what we cling to as a sign of progress? That they rested on their ad hominem attack laurels rather than reiterating them?”

That’s so depressing that I’m going to go think about attack laurels instead.

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