Friday, February 03, 2006

And now, from the "Opera Appreciation and Human Sacrifice" files, and Yahoo! News...

Sudiegirl sez:
Granted, this is a bit intense to start kids off with when introducing them to opera. However, when Ted Turner buys all the good Warner Brothers cartoons and puts them on Boomerang (that many cable providers still don’t have), you don’t have the luxury of whetting their cultural teeth on Bugs and Elmer skewering Wagner in all its glory. So see? There is a use for Looney Tunes after all, and should be appreciated as such. ANYWAY…let’s move along here…

'Faust' Opera Video Stirs Angry Parents
(BTW, what else do you stir angry parents with? Ladles? Wooden spoons? Lathes?)

Thu Feb 2, 2:38 PM ET
Some parents in this prairie town are angry with an elementary school music teacher for showing pupils a video about the opera "Faust," whose title character sells his soul to the devil in exchange for being young again. (Many people still do this, BTW…look at Mary Kay, for example. Actually, my theory about Mary Kay is that she’s one of those animatronic figures from Disneyland…she used to be George Washington in the Hall of Presidents.)

"Any adult with common sense would not think that video was appropriate for a young person to see. I'm not sure it's appropriate for a high school student," Robby Warner said after two of her children saw the video. (Well, it’s probably not appropriate for kids to watch half of what they see in this world, but it’s still there. As opposed to condemning it, did you talk about it with your kids, Ms. Warner?)

Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said, "I think it glorifies Satan in some way." (Well, DUH! The main character sells his soul to the devil, ya putz! Obviously, you didn’t get the memo.)

Tresa Waggoner showed approximately 250 first-, second- and third-graders at Bennett Elementary portions of a 33-year-old series titled "Who's Afraid of Opera" a few weeks ago. (Well, that’s certainly better than “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, I must say. Could you imagine getting those tapes mixed up at the video store, and two film buffs are watching this kids’ intro to opera while an elementary school class is subjected to Richard Burton saying to Liz Taylor, “Tell them about the BABY, Martha!” Definitely a lot of potential controversy there…)

The video features the soprano Dame Joan Sutherland and three puppet friends discussing Gounod's "Faust." Waggoner thought it would be a good introduction to opera. (Well…first of all, anything with an opera singer talking with puppets should ONLY be Beverly Sills’ guest-star appearance on “The Muppet Show”. )

Her critics questioned the decision to show children a portrayal of the devil, Mephistopheles, along with a scene showing a man being killed by a sword and a reference to suicide. (OK, much as I hate to agree with some of it, I can’t honestly disagree. Some concepts – such as selling one’s soul to the devil – are hard to explain to children as it is. If you’re looking at introducing young people to opera, you really should start with less intense fare as Gounod’s “Faust”, even though it’s a wonderful work. Gilbert and Sullivan would probably be a good choice, or maybe Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”. But if you’re bound and determined that the Faustian saga is for your curriculum, you should make it a family event so parents and kids can see what it’s all about.)

School Superintendent George Sauter said the teacher should not have shown the video to children below the fourth grade but will not lose her job. She has sent letter of apology to all elementary school parents in Bennett, population 2,400 and about 25 miles east of Denver on Colorado's eastern plains. (Well, that’s a mixed blessing. I don’t think she should have lost her job over it, because someone’s always going to be pissy about something, and people will always look for objectionable material so they don’t have to pay more school taxes to have a decent curriculum in their schools. )

"I was definitely not sensitive to the conservative nature of the community, and I've learned that," Waggoner said in Sunday's editions of The Denver Post. "However, from what has been said about me, that I'm a Satan worshipper, my character, I can't believe all of this. My intention was just to expose the kids to opera." (SEE? This is small town thinking! My God…the thing is, in small towns, they probably wouldn’t know what a real Satan worshipper looked like if they came to town riding a flaming horse.)

Waggoner, who is in her first year teaching vocal music in Bennett, said she doesn't expect to stay in town.

"I know I'm not accepted here, that I'm not welcome here by the parents," she said. "It's a very uncomfortable position." (And that’s the biggest shame of all…that one mistake can turn a potentially good teacher into a pariah. Yet, many “good upstanding teachers” stay in the district and molest or otherwise torment children silently for years.)

Sudiegirl’s final opinion?

Things like this are why I didn’t become a music teacher. I’m very happy being a clerical worker, thank you!