Maestro, GO!

‘ve been following the entire Slatkin/Met Opera debacle since early April.  It’s funny how everything has transpired from okay, to extreme gossip, to even more extreme gossip.

According to various sources it all started after Slatkin wrote a “blog” on his website (the article’s been taken down now) about his upcoming engagement with the Met. Originally he was contracted to conducted a Corigliano Opera but that was canceled and replaced with the classic “La Traviata.” I remember reading that particular blog on Slatkin’s website – only because he’s on my RSS feed – and reading how he hasn’t conducted it before and how he has engrossed himself in reading material, etc. etc.  His blog made the assumption that he didn’t know the work but that we was studying and absorbing it, as one does when they’re not overly familiar about a work.

For those of you who don’t know the “scoop,” Slatkin conducted the opening night of “La Traviata” and subsequently canceled all other engagements of the opera afterward. No public statement surfaced from him, however the “gossiping” ninnies were on their blogs and newspapers saying how he wasn’t prepared, messed up numerous entrances, and made a fool out of himself, the orchestra, and the Met.

I don’t know how many of you have been following his blog/website, but I know that post his position with the Detroit Symphony, he wrote some very strange and ambiguous posts about things he wanted to change. These new, we’ll call them innovative, ideas caused a huge ripple through the classical world. Many columnist and writers who believe that the classical idiom should still maintain that archaic and musty smell of pretentiousness had a field day. I wonder how much of what Slatkin had previously wrote influenced the staff and artists at the Met.

It wasn’t until today that Maestro Slatkin came forward to discuss the debacle with the Detroit Free Press. What he told the reporter is very interesting. He points fingers (and I had that term) at the opera star Angel Gheorghiu and how her “diva” attitude put Slatkin in a very uncomfortable and nerve-racking position. He talks about how she continually obscured the view of other vocalists, failed to cut off fermatas, and paid very little mind to Slatkin and his conducting.

Slatkin, according to the article, was in such a fluster that he admittedly made mistakes because he was to preoccupied with how Angela would react to arias and choruses previously rehearsed.

Now, all the articles I’ve read continually scream of how Slatkin should have followed her, period. Honestly, I go back and forth with this idea – he is the Maestro – he is there because the Met wished for his interpretation of the Opera. Albiet he was originally contracted for the Corigliano, but any competent and note worthy Maestro (as Slatkin no doubt is) would have done the necessary homework. So I’m very puzzled as to all the reports of him not being prepared and not knowing the score.

Has that faint smell of bad sea bass.

Angela missed not only the dress rehearsal but also two previous rehearsals, meaning…she’d walk on stage and pretty much do whatever she wanted without a care or concern for anyone else.

This angers me, I don’t care how great of an artist, singer, composer you are…your purpose is to serve the music, not yourself. Many articles have dangerously compared Angela’s attitude too that of Kathleen Battle – the soprano that the Met finally fired after one of her notorious temper tantrums. Even her website SCREAMS of self-proclaimed pretentious diva, with the first words screaming: “Angela Gheorghiu world’s most glamorous opera star.” Vomit.

So the news is all a buzz about how awful Slatkin is and how he poorly prepares himself and made a mockery of the Met through these performances. As I sit writing this, I wonder how much of it is true and how much of it is false. The Met has refused any comment to the media regarding Slatkin’s article. Even after Slatkin said he had contacted the manager and spoke with him about his concerns regarding Angela missing rehearsals, the manager still proceeded to tell Slatkin to not worry and that everything would be fine.

If someone were to write something false about me, I’d immediately be on the phone with my agent, publicist, what have you, in making sure that the media and news knew that such tripe being published was false.

Yet we hear not a peep from the Met. Which makes me suspicious and lean towards the notion that something weird is going on and that the media is jumping to conclusions, critics (influential critics) are quick to write an awful review on one of the most well-respected conductors in the US, and things…are just weird.

It’s not my job to make speculations, I’m just a lowly clarinet player in his 43,545 year of college.

BUT

Who’s really at fault here? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Met has created this allusion to save face and that they’re a partial reason for this debacle. Knowing the history of the Met and the drama, gossip, negative media, and the management issues they’ve faced – I wouldn’t put it past them. Speaking of, Molto Agitato is a wonderfully entertaining book about the mayhem behind the scenes at the Met – even my none musician and engineer father enjoyed the book, even though he was disgusted with all the pretentious behavior of the musicians.

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