Dumb and dumber


Hard to believe, but the English National Opera posted a bio of Richard Strauss, in which they said Johann Strauss was his father:

gush“Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was one of the most highly acclaimed composers of the 20th century. He was a leading representative of the German school of Romantic composers who set new standards for orchestration and tone colour in opera. But, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, with his father Johann Strauss being a prominent composer in Vienna. It was his father’s orchestra that gave him his first big break, composing two waltzes for them to play at the age of just six.”

Richard Strauss’s father was Franz Strauss, a horn player. Not Johann Strauss, the waltz king.

The ENO put this online in a “Beginner’s Guide to Opera,” and took it down after Norman Lebrecht put it in his widely read Slipped Disc blog, and they were derided.

But there’s more.

The Detroit Symphony put a bio of its music director in a press release, saying he’d been inspired by Mahler’s operas. Mahler wrote no operas.

I caught this, emailed their communications director, whom I know a little. He thanked me, and they changed the bio.

And from the Utah Opera, gushing about their production of La bohème:

“[Mimì and Rodolfo’s] duets, such as ‘Che gelida manina’ and ‘Sì, mi chiamano Mimì,’ allow the audience to witness their deepening affection and the genuine connection they share.”

Those are arias, not duets.

In one case like this, I know the mistake came from outside marketing consultants, people who don’t know classical music. Their work had to be proofread — with eagle eyes — and mistakes slipped through.

But I think it’s worse than that. To me it’s part of an overall dumbing down of classical music PR, which now — so much of it — has melted into empty gush.

I’ll say more about this. It astounds and saddens me.



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