onsdag 15 oktober 2014

Cultural Marxist take on Purcell

This version of Purcell's Indian Queen by Peter Sellers is an example of the pernicious trend to re-work old material to present a left-wing political message. In this case, it is the dreadfulness of the Spanish and Portuguese occupation of America in the sixteenth century. Now, if we apply contemporary standards of what constitutes bad behaviour, it was indeed dreadful. The mistake is to do that. By their lights, they were mostly doing what they thought was right. People in the future will come back and judge us in a similar way for doing dreadful things that, judged by contemporary standards, we consider are right and good. Evil acts are normally justified by some argument or other to make us imagine that we are doing nothing wrong.

The problem is that all this detracts from the work itself, which has the singers in contemporary military uniforms and is accompanied by sound effects of contemporary military actions, with the noise of bombs going off in the background. That is, unfortunately a popular trend which particularly affects contemporary productions of baroque operas; Handel is a major victim. Shakespeare plays have also long been subject to the same treatment.

Fortunately, most of the nonsense is only apparent if you go to a live performance and is out of sight and out of mind if you just listen on the radio. The underlying cause, presumably, is that most of those involved in the productions come from privileged backgrounds but have a guilty conscience. Goodness knows what the singers themselves must make of this nonsense.

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