Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The treacherous "and"

This is ungracious, I know -- and a bit late. Still, at the beginning of the season I've repeatedly heard this conjunction obscuring both truth and sentiment: "Sills and Pavarotti".

Sills was a great local figure, perhaps a national one too. She fully deserved the night of tribute she got at the Met. But one cannot seriously say "Sills and Pavarotti" unless in reference to one of the fantastic performances they did together of, for example, Lucia. ("Caruso and Pavarotti", "Björling and Pavarotti" -- yes. "Domingo and Pavarotti"? -- even Domingo fans, I'm sure, have their doubts.) Luciano Pavarotti, in some not-entirely-metaphorical sense, was opera, and his death was a world and opera-historical event. Even famously parochial New York cannot do without acknowledging his hors concours significance.

If Sills got a night, Pav should get -- what? I hope Gelb and company have something in mind, because it's disgraceful that his death, looming large in the hearts of so much of the audience and the opera world, has gotten no more recognition at the Met than opening night's moment of silence shared with the local favorite who nevertheless sang ~300 fewer performances there than he.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.