In the approximately three months we’ve been in Germany, I’ve been able to take full advantage of the arts “scene.” I can’t even really call it that, as the “scene” is, simply, the culture. For my American readers (both of you) I’m not going to rub in the fact that the arts in all forms are accepted in Europe as part of civilization. This will never be the case in the States. There really isn’t any discussion to be had – general acceptance of the arts (outside popular music, TV and film, all of which can be very well done), whether American-produced or imports, is not part of something average Americans consider important. The American government will never subsidize the arts in any real fashion, and being an artist in the states will never have the respect that it does in places like Germany. Arts ed will be shelved to save money, and access to performances will be out of the range of many people, financially. The Arts in America will always struggle, but they’ve done it thus far, so on we go. Ok, maybe I’m rubbing it in a bit.
So one of the benefits of 1) having a wife in the ensemble and 2) being in the extra chorus allows me to get in to see pretty much anything I want. In the last few months, I have – for free or very little cost – been to:
1) Operas that I’ve never seen before – Peter Grimes (three times already and one of my favorites – seriously, it’s in my top 10), Ballo (second time tomorrow night), Figaro (twice), Daughter of the Regiment, Flying Dutchman (from the wings). Also this season, I’ll get to see Meistersinger and Boris (also from the wings!!), Doctor Atomic, Stravinsky’s The Nightingale, some Handel, and I’ll get to see a new production of one of my other favorites, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, which is required listening for everyone.
2) The ballet – which I don’t go to enough, frankly.
3) Symphony – we got to see Leon Fleisher play the Prokofiev left hand concerto then got to meet him after the show. He’s really nice.
4) Chamber music (I’m sure) including tonight’s performance of all modern works by Henze and his students. Summary: Don’t take your anxiety meds for a week and then throw a bowling ball into a percussion closet. But the players and conductor were off the charts amazing, and beer and pretzels were available at intermission (Germany, much?)
It’s all incredibly fortunate, and more than I could have asked for from a continuing education standpoint (although, I gotta tell ya, I’m probably skipping the straight theatre, because Streetcar in German would not be fun for me). I can’t fathom how much it would cost me in the states to see all I have in these short months. I was talking to a friend at tonight’s contempo concert and realized that even for me, the cost of tickets in Boston prevented me from going to many shows. Pity. And a surprising revelation. I’m not saying that this is the only source of trouble – perhaps just a symptom of financial operations reality – but its a reminder of the kind of opportunities I had in the states, as well as those that I now face.