Of all the revolutions of modernism, none was more complete than the ashcanning of beauty as the ultimate canon of art.
YouTube was born three months after my book was published, and I would have killed to have had free access to so much privileged material; but not all is peachy: YouTube is a fence for stolen intellectual property.
If it’s been produced at the Avignon Festival, the Munich Biennale, or the various Fringe Festivals from Edinburgh to New York, chances are it’s not opera or music theater but “new music theater.”
Part exorcist, part Pentecostal channeler, part Antonin Artaud, part Tibetan monk chanting “om” sound-processed to glass-shattering decibels, the regal, Goth-like Galás in Imitation of Life is the incarnation of the mythological Lilith, the she-demon as singing shaman.
Also possibly the all-American granddaddy of slam poetry and jazz vocalese, and a co-inventor (and practitioner) of Schoenbergian sprechstimme.
Opera: coming soon to a theater near you.
Shouldn’t music and cultural historians start to examine the unknown composers of well-known music of post-1900 mass media?
Mark this 2007 reality: younger audiences today have only known and experienced theater music piped through live-in-performance loudspeakers. They have no cultural or even physical memory of non-electronically mediated music in the theater.
It would seem that dramatizations of composers are stuck either with the low maudlinism of Hollywood biopics or the high metaphysics of Thomas Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus and Adrian Leverkühn, its fictionalized Schoenberg. But wait—author Joan Peyser demurs.