Friday, August 24, 2012

John Cage Takes on the Opera

I once heard a (self-proclaimed) "expert" on blogging declare that, if you wanted to get page views for what you write about music, your should write about opera. Since I am in a position to write for the sake of writing, rather than for the sake of page views (which, on, translates into revenue), I tend to ignore that kind of advice. However, the analyst in me likes to look for evidence that will either warrant or refute any such claim.

Sure enough, my article about the Grand Finale of the Merola Opera Program rewarded me with a nice bump in my numbers. However, as fate would have it, that "popular" offering took place the night after sfSound gave one of their John Cage programs in the Old First Concerts series at Old First Church. This happened to be an all-instrumental affair that demanded a fair amount out of the sympathetic listener; but those true to their sympathy were more than duly rewarded. Since Cage's 100th birthday is now a little more than a week away (September 5), I was curious as to how attention to Cage would fare in comparison to attention to "sure-thing" opera. According to the latest numbers from Google Analytics, Cage has not been doing badly. He is in second place, but the difference is narrower than I would have expected.

I find this encouraging, since I can remember the days when Cage was anathema to any "right-thinking" (yes, those are scare quotes) concert-goer. His music may rarely (if ever) prompt those stirring cheers of "Bravo!," without which (apparently) opera singers cannot survive. On the other hand those who take their listening seriously now seem inclined to take Cage seriously as well, perhaps more seriously than they might take (just to choose an arbitrary example) Vincenzo Bellini!

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