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23rd Annual Juried Exhibition Aug 01, 2014 Forty-three local artists' work will be on display including Margaret Noble, Portia Krichman and Amanda Rouse. Winners will be announced during the opening reception and chosen work remains on view through Aug. 30. 81 other events on Friday, August 1
 
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Kevin Faulconer should follow Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ lead
Film
New Roman Polanski flick leads our rundown of movies screening around town
Seen Local
Casa Familiar suffers funding shortfalls and loses two of its three arts-and-culture employees
Theater
Encinitas troupe’s latest production tops our coverage of local plays
Film
James Ward Byrkit’s sci-fi movie is clever, tenacious and deeply unsettling

 

 
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Monday, Apr 21, 2014

No curtains for San Diego Opera

Says the little person with no knowledge of it

By Aaryn Belfer
for web

"Crazytown" is the term that comes to mind, and I'm not talking about the "I'm just a 14-year-old white girl" who tweeted a bomb threat to American Airlines last week. That's one ding-a-ling of epic proportion, but she can't help it if her frontal lobe isn't fully formed. 

No, Cray.Zee.Town. is actually the new name I propose for San Diego, complete with punctuation so visitors to our little amusement park by the sea can get the emphasis exactly right. Note that it should never be said without a big ol' side eye.

San Diego has had a very special 10 months that, alone or collectively, are about as disturbing as the aforementioned tweet and as gross as the accidental U.S. Airways one that featured a photo of a woman with a toy airplane stuffed in her bare vag. It was all there, including her waxed, white asshole puckering for the camera. 

I sort of prefer that image to what's been going on around town. At least the picture is honest about what it is. In good ol' San Diego, we have a whole different brand of waxed, white assholes puckering for the cameras in a seemingly endless con game. Don't believe me? Just look at our generic and mediocre, yet PR savvy, emperor-mayor

I stopped paying close attention to the goings on in Cray.Zee.Town. awhile back because my jaw had begun to hurt from being so frequently agape. My outrage bone was sore.

Since last July, we've seen the implosion of a mayor, the centennial celebration, the Ken Cinema and San Diego Opera. And yet, SeaWorld still beckons the masses despite the wailing mother whales we all cried with in Blackfish. Can you stand it? I ask you: Can you stand it? 

Wait a second. We have an opera?

Oh, I kid the opera! I totally know we have one, because every major city totally has one. Even minor cities have operas. For Verdi's sake, Boise has an opera. Billings, Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Wichita—shall I keep going?—have operas. 

Good thing ours isn't, like, closing or anything

Unlike our opera, which is being driven into the ground for reasons still unclear by a group of waxy, white puckering assholes, many others around the country aim to include new fans. They stage contemporary operas, do small chamber concerts or send company members to sing in bars (who knew Fort Worth was so progressive?). 

Many companies perform in schools. According to a friend, the San Diego Opera goes out to district schools, but I'd never know if they came to my kid's school—or be able to reinforce what they taught—since her school doesn't communicate with parents. But that's another issue. 

Successful opera companies, it turns out, care about reaching the peons who scrimp all year for one day with Shamu but not for a single evening with Susan Neves. That's a shame.

Like most plebeians, however—most working stiffs and most parents who rely on babysitters at $12 per hour—going to the opera is cost-prohibitive. I found this out when I decided to buy two tickets after hearing the incredible reviews of Moby Dick

But money isn't the only thing about opera that makes the art form inaccessible. Because so many of us aren't exposed to it, we don't necessarily understand it or have an appreciation for it. And let's just be real about the inherent elitism of an exclusionary medium largely aimed at a particular demographic. 

It would take a certain kind of creativity and long-term commitment—as seems to be embodied by Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel director of education and outreach for the San Diego Opera—to entice and sustain the interest of a new generation of opera fans. It's my opinion that the (former?) director Ian Campbell is neither creative nor committed. But! He's a white, puckery asshole, which counts for something in this town. 

In at least one conversation with KPBS culture reporter Angela Carone (full disclosure: She's a friend; fuller disclosure: She is killing it on opera coverage), Campbell publicly pooh-poohed the kind of innovation that might see the opera not only survive, but also entice new, younger audiences.

Despite his protestations, methinks we commoners would flock to Anna Nicole and other such contemporary productions. I think Blackfish would make a great new whale opera, if only there were money to commission it. The Wire would make for an exceptional contemporary tragedy. Shoot, give us Frozen and an entire generation of children would be fans for life. Give us vulgar-folk Anchorman in arias. Interest would soar. I've got ideas, people. Maybe the opera should hire me. I'd only ask for a fraction of Campbell's bloated salary.

Despite my admittedly limited knowledge of all things Puccini, I signed the petition to save the San Diego Opera. But if it can't be saved in this place—where citizens practically take up arms to save a cross on a hill, where we go to the mat over a reproduction of a statue that's a reproduction of a photo—we can always bask in our kick-ass weather reports delivered by wiggling, bandage-dress-wearing meteorologists who go by names like Aloha and Dagmar. We may not have opera, but we'll have sunshine. 

Down the road, we peons can take our economical home-packed picnics to the base of "Unconditional Surrender," where we're not forced to look at it. There, in its shadow, we can eat our cake while opera staff wait in the unemployment line, while the Chargers play in their new stadium that we will have paid for but cannot afford to sit in, thanks to the reign of some white, puckering assholes. 

That right there is operatic. Bravo. Encore. 


Email Aaryn Belfer. Aaryn blogs at aarynbelfer.com and you can follow her on Twitter @aarynb.




 
 
 
 
 
 
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