I witnessed the dismantling of our beloved art form

Kevin Conners, an artist of Bavarian State Opera since 1988, gathers his thoughts on lockdown day:

From the Staatsoper blogsite:

 

October 27, 2020
When I woke up this morning and realized that I had forgotten our wedding day again (it was yesterday), I knew it was not going to be a good day. As it turned out, I’d be right.

Everyone at the Bavarian State Opera takes Covid-19 very seriously. The opera has around 950 employees, some of whom are tested for the corona virus at regular intervals. There is a sophisticated hygiene concept, and the University Clinic Rechts der Isar continuously advises the State Opera. My test appointment was at 9:40 a.m. When I entered the test hall, a friend of mine, also a singer, was acting very strangely. After a few minutes it was clear that he had a stroke and needed immediate medical attention. Those of us who were around banded together to take care of him, and it was lucky that the doctor at the clinic who was doing the tests was there and was able to help immediately. He is now stable and is resting in a city hospital.

As a result of this incident, I was late for my first rehearsal of the day. It was a musical rehearsal for our new Falstaff production . Michele Mariotti, our conductor, showed understanding for my delay and then led a productive rehearsal where he took the time to explain the beauty of the Italian language in the context of music. The Falstaff cast switched to rehearsal costumes and began the scenic rehearsal with the director Mateja Koležnik. The energy she shows is amazing. Her vision of Falstaff is extremely interesting and colorful, as is her language. In general, we had a very productive day on the Falstaff set. We have made musical and scenic progress, and the second act is taking shape.

Between rehearsals I was busy with e-mails and the suggestion from the actors at the Residenztheater for a letter to the heads of government about our future. The letter expresses the call for dialogue well. All soloists of the Bavarian State Opera have agreed to the content of the letter, which will be published tomorrow.

My last rehearsal of the day ended at 7:40 p.m. In the National Theater Macbeth ran on stage with 50 spectators in the hall. I have been a member of the Bavarian State Opera since May 1st, 1988. I’ve never seen anything like it during my time here at the theater. It was a sad moment indeed for me. When I think about the events of the day, I have one particular dialogue in mind:
Mateja Koležnik: “Can we rehearse?” Michele Mariotti replied “Can we perform?

Is that what we are faced with as artists? The question of our very existence?

As I tried to demonstrate at the beginning, we care for one another at the Bavarian State Opera. We take care of each other. We don’t want anyone to get sick. We adhere to all the requirements of the health law. I sang with a mask on for five hours!

As I watched the colleagues perform tonight, I witnessed firsthand the dismantling of our beloved art form. If this continues, it will be the demise of the theater and lead to a void in society. The arts feed humanity. Will I no longer be allowed to do what I was born to sing, perform and give hope by sharing my talent with others?

Today was not a good day.

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  • You ask the questions we’re all asking, but I would implore you not to fall into the trap of wondering whether or not the performing arts are valid. I know many people who also take CV very seriously, but their main preoccupation is how to stay working and avoid pathetically punitive fines rather than any perceived threats to their health. CV is not dangerous for the vast majority of working-age, healthy people and we should kick back at any attempt to make those in the cultural sector question the validity of their profession. It’s a section of the economy whose financial, social, educational and mental benefits far outstrip its initial cost to taxpayer, should any such payment exist in the first place.

    We are not witnessing the ‘new normal’ and should resist any attempt to make it so with every fibre of our being.

    • The Corona Plague does not care what profession you are in or what age you are or how much you boo-hoo about “the dismantling of our beloved art form”.
      It kills. That’s what it does. It kills. Young, old, “working-age, healthy”: no matter.
      Culture will make absolutely no difference if there is no society left alive to appreciate it.
      “CV is not dangerous for the vast majority of working-age, healthy people”…. what absolute, destructive, Trumpist bull**it.
      Perhaps you might still have some time left to do some real research about this horrible disease before you are put on the ventilator, Anthony.
      And make sure your will is up to date for the good of those of your beneficiaries who are smart enough to take all the safety precautions the doctors and scientists recommend.

      • I read, quite carefully and several times, the Lancet article so helpfully linked by Le Křenek du jour, and I could find nothing that invalidated what Anthony Sayer said : “CV is not dangerous for the vast majority of working-age, healthy people.” I am sure he does not underestimate the seriousness of the pandemic, the huge problems it causes for national health services, the enormously difficult decisions governments have to make in order to control it, the possibility (not the certainty) that anybody who contracts it may become seriously ill and die or suffer long-lasting effects if they survive, and the grief of those who have lost people they loved. I am sure he also takes all sensible precautions for himself and others, as the Bavarian musician does. But emotional over-reactions such as “It kills. That’s what it does. It kills. Young, old, “working-age, healthy”: no matter.”, coupled with unpleasant personal insinuations, help nobody.

        • Your comment is noted, Marfisa.
          In your haste to write a reply to my comment, you apparently did not bother to actually read the comment by Le Křenek du jour which you reference. Allow me to quote it for you:
          ” “CV is not dangerous for the vast majority of working-age, healthy people”…. In the light of current epidemiological data, such an allegation is at best outdated, at worst irresponsible…. Young women in the age bracket 20-40y are currently the cohort causing the largest proportion of excess hospital admissions due to Covid-19 in the UK.”
          It’s the truth-deniers such as yourself, Marfisa, who encourage the wildly irresponsible and deadly behavior of people who ignore the safety protocols and thereby infect others.
          “It kills. That’s what it does. It kills. Young, old, “working-age, healthy”: no matter.”
          This is the truth, and I stand by my statement. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Covid dead worldwide – of all ages – provide silent verification of my statement.
          Anthony Sayer’s statement that “CV is not dangerous for the vast majority of working-age, healthy people” is a lie, a very dangerous lie, and I have no problem calling it a lie.
          And as for “unpleasant personal insinuations”? Take a hike.

          • @Greg Bottini: I don’t know what parallel universe you live in, but look at percentages, not numbers. Also, in your haste to reply to Marfisa, you credited my sentence to Krenek, who, I’m sure, won’t thank you for it.

            As for bringing Trump into your initial reply with all that insertion implies, keep the toxic exports your country delights in to yourself. Keep your food, your TV and film, your warmongering, puerile ‘social causes’ and politics on your side of the pond and leave the rest of us in peace. Thanking you most sincerely.

          • Anthony Sayer,
            “Thanking you most sincerely”? What a lame and pusillanimous excuse for an attempt at sarcasm.
            If you had bothered to read my comment carefully, you might have noted that I was quoting Krenek du jour quoting *you*. You might want to familiarize yourself with the use of double quotation marks – it’s a common feature of English punctuation.
            “Look at percentages, not numbers” (echoing Trump’s delusional idea that he has the Virus under control) is, of course, one of Trump’s main tropes in his bid to be re-elected. It totally ignores the real-life human suffering and anguish caused by the tidal wave of death. It does not surprise me in the least that you, Anthony, are on the same page as the Tangerine menace.
            And your rant: “keep the toxic exports your country delights in to yourself. Keep your food, your TV and film, your warmongering, puerile ‘social causes’ and politics on your side of the pond and leave the rest of us in peace” sounds like it could have been made – minus the TV and film references – by any good, solid, God-fearing British Imperialist of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
            I love Great Britain, and have done so ever since we honeymooned there 41 years ago. I enjoyed the company of everyone I encountered there.
            Evidently, I did not encounter you.
            Oh, and Anthony – “thanking you” for NOTHING.

          • Correction to my latest comment: I should have said … “would the statement “The vast majority of the voting population voted for Biden” be a lie”

        • CDC data in US seems to disagree. Mostly those over 50 account for vast majority of deaths. Of the 200,000 listed as COVID related, only 6% were COVID-only (comorbidity not involved)

        • As of today, there have been 9,077,689
          Cases in the U.S., with 222,316 deaths.

          https://covidtracking.com

          That is a death rate of about 2.5 percent.

          That does not include the sickened and maimed.

          I have read elsewhere that the number of additional deaths in the U.S. thus far this year is well over 300,000 higher than normal. So, it is entirely plausible that the actual death rate is in fact higher than this.

          This disease does not kill in the same way as, say, ebola. But it does kill. Merely because it does not kill all whom it infects, does not mean that it is not a danger. It kills, it sickens, and it sometimes leaves lingering and possibly permanent damage.

      • It’s funny how anyone who does not buy into the apocalyptic mindset by merely looking at available statistics (the government’s own, largely – the ONS) is systematically insulted and has a particularly nasty version of the bug wished upon them. Bravo. Go and hide under the stairs with your face nappy and keep your invective for yourself.

        • I must make myself very clear: I in no way “wished upon you” anything.
          Quoting myself: “Perhaps you might still have some time left to do some real research about this horrible disease before you are put on the ventilator, Anthony. And make sure your will is up to date for the good of those of your beneficiaries who are smart enough to take all the safety precautions the doctors and scientists recommend.”
          If there is anything in those sentences that actually “wish” something upon you, please describe it to me and I shall withdraw it. (Perhaps a dictionary might be of some help to you.)
          To be honest, though, I have certainly taken pleasure in “systematically insulting” you. You’re just too easy a target. “Go and hide under the stairs with your face nappy” – can one get any more Trumpist than that? I LOVE sticking it to the Trumpists!
          I will leave it to others more intelligent and aware than you to decide whether my mindset is apocalyptic or accurate. I know where YOU stand.

          • There are societies where stating as a certainty that somebody will fall ill, be put on a ventilator and die would be regarded as a form of black witchcraft. It is in any case a pretty unpleasant thing to say, as is the sneer about your target’s intelligence. And, oddly enough, outside the United States there are many people whose thoughts are not stuck in the Trump/anti-Trump rhetorical mire.

        • True enough. Hospitals get 20% more funding if someone is declared covid. It’s a recipe for fraudulent statistics. A doctor somewhere wrote (I can’t remember where) it’s easy enough to find out. Cardiac deaths in US about 650000 per year. Cancer deaths about 600000 etc. In a few years if those numbers are found to be way low for 2020, then we’ll know how covid19 deaths were so “high”.

      • Something tells me that you’re not facing destitution, or the loss of anything really precious to you, as a result of lockdownism.

        • Something tells ME, Ashu, that for you “the loss of anything really precious” does not include human lives.
          “Lockdownism”? Another Trumpist rears his ugly head.

      • I apologize for returning to this.
        Greg Bottini, October 31: “ ‘CV is not dangerous for the vast majority of working-age, healthy people [Anthony Sayer]’ is a lie, a very dangerous lie.” “It kills. That’s what it does. It kills. Young, old, “working-age, healthy”: no matter.”

        Worldometer statistics, November 1st.
        https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

        Active cases: 11,883,719
        in Mild Condition 11,798,574 (99%)
        Serious or Critical 85,145 (1%)

        Closed cases: 34,878,960
        Recovered/Discharged: 33,674,614 (97%)
        Deaths: 1,204,346 (3%)

        These figures take no account of age or health; but it is widely known that serious illness and death occur disproportionately among older and unhealthier people.

        If, say, Biden were to win even 90% of the votes for President in the American election, would the statement “The vast majority of the voting population voted against Trump” be a lie, a very dangerous lie?

        Nobody (well, maybe a crazed conspiracy theorist) can deny that this is a serious disease and that so far tens of millions have been infected and well over a million killed. But calling a statement of fact a lie, as Greg Bottini does, is totally out of order.

        • Get real, Marfa.
          “These figures take no account of age or health; but it is widely known that serious illness and death occur disproportionately among older and unhealthier people.”
          “It is widely known”…. THAT is what you are basing your argument on? “It is widely known”?
          Please.
          The most important figure is the bottom line: Deaths: 1,204,346. Does it really matter if it’s 3%, 1%, or 20% of closed cases? IT’S 1.2 MILLION DEAD FOR GOD’S SAKE!

          • About 150,000 people die every day. That’s 54,750,000 per year. People die of many different things and CV-19, however nasty for those it lays low, barely causes a blip on the chart. Sorry you had to hear it from me.

            Professional help is available.

          • Greg, the point under discussion is the degree of danger from Covid-19 to younger and healthy people. If you do not understand the logic behind the arguments I and some others are making, I cannot help you. But if you really are ignorant of one of the most basic and widely understood facts about deaths from Covid-19, one of the major factors in decision-making for medical authorities and politicians, then I respectfully suggest it is time for you yourself to do some ‘real research’ rather than emoting all over SD.

          • Absolutely right. Still, it’s interesting to see how many people apparently agree with his unhinged, illogical blatherings. That’s almost more worrying than their content.

    • “CV is not dangerous for the vast majority of working-age, healthy people”

      In the light of current epidemiological data, such an allegation is at best outdated, at worst irresponsible.
      https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30461-6/fulltext

      Young women in the age bracket 20-40y are currently the cohort causing the largest proportion of excess hospital admissions due to Covid-19 in the UK.
      Their impact is already felt in the healthcare, childcare, education, and services sectors.

      • Seriously?! If you want to reference the Lancet article, then you should reference it properly, not take statements out of the context. This is the actual quote:

        “ The driving force behind this excess is, however, more complicated. Many of the severe cases of COVID-19 in hospital in this age group are individuals in the hospitality and service industries, such as bar managers and wait staff in restaurants—and most hospitality staff are women. The nature of the work itself increases the risk of exposure to the virus; and the greater the dose of the virus, the worse the disease. Individuals in the service industry are therefore at a high risk of exposure; and on the basis of these findings, the wearing of facemasks for hospitality staff as well as customers in bars and restaurants became mandatory in England from Sept 24, 2020.”

        Now, here on the East Coast of the US masks for hospitality personnel as well as customers are mandatory since the restaurants started to open up in June. From what I know, it’s the same in Germany. And if in the U.K. they are so utterly irresponsible to mandate them only a month ago (outrageous!), then why should one be surprised they have young women in hospitals and what on earth does it have to do with the safety of performances in Munich??

        • If masks are so effective at slowing the spread, why does France (outdoor mask mandate in some metro areas) have eye watering levels of cases? Is pulling a filthy piece of cloth out of your pocket and using it to cover your breathing holes good for your health? Inquiring minds want to know.

          • Exactly. They’re next to useless but serve as a legal defence for the government when the accusations of non-protection start (which, I think, they already have).

    • It is vitally important for us simultaneously to (a) support the arts and artists, and (b) take necessary and appropriate actions against this deadly pandemic.

      In the U.S., the pandemic has already claimed the lives of over 220,000 people. A thousand more are dying each day.

      Countless thousands of others are permanently injured or maimed by this disease. I just received an email today from a couple I know, both of whom contracted it back in March. She has recovered, but he has lingering damage to his lungs that may be permanent. Considering that he’s a professional wind player and on the faculty at Julliard among other places, this is scary for his livelihood as well as his long-term health.

      We must not be complacent. We must not think that this disease is inconsequential merely because it does not kill all who are infected.

      This pandemic is real, it is deadly, and it is spreading. We need to slow the spread, until vaccines or effective treatments are widely available.

    • I have three “healthy, working age” friends who are hospitalised due to Covid-19. Doctors are exhausted. Let’s protect music and art, but let’s no underestimate the danger of this awful pandemic.

    • It looks as if there is a virus going round that affects the ability of people to read, think and argue clearly, logically and rationally (and courteously).

      Greg Bottini accuses me of not having read Le Krenek’s comment. I did read it, all of it. I then read the Lancet article, and concluded (as Opera Dude below does, I think) that it did not invalidate what Anthony Sayer said. As a result, I am told that I am a ‘truth-denier’. Did Greg read beyond the first sentence of my comment? Then, disappointingly, Anthony Sayer goes on to talk of ‘hiding under the stairs with your face nappy’!

      Here is the truth as I see it. This corona virus is very infectious. All of us (apart from hermits) are at risk of contracting it, and we may be infected and infect others without realizing it. For the vast majority of healthy working-age people the statistics suggest that it is not a dangerous illness: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ – at today’s date it reports 99% of all active cases in ‘mild condition’. However, there is absolutely no way of knowing whether you and those you associate with are among the very small minority of healthy working-age people who will become dangerously ill or die if infected. Therefore it is only right and proper to try to protect yourself and the people around you by taking the simple precautions of wearing face-coverings in public places, keeping a safe distance from others, and sanitizing or washing your hands frequently.

      And apart from this, it is vitally important to control the spread of the disease so as not to overload the health services with unnecessary covid-19 cases caused by people not taking precautions. Other ill people need treatment too.

      But, finally, lockdown has terrible economic consequences that seriously impact millions, and cultural activities and artists should indeed be supported and protected. So let us all hope fervently that those who govern us can work out safe ways to allow performances of classical music, and theatre and ballet and pop concerts and folk festivals, to continue.

      • Good post, Marfisa. My comment about hiding under the stairs was coined as a simplified version of what the CV-hysterics are actually advocating. Naturally, we should take precautions but the boundless scare-mongering of our governments has created an army of neurotics whose sole source of data appears to be the pensée unique of mainstream media. In concentrating exclusively on CV they have left a plethora of illnesses undiagnosed, existing conditions untreated, social connections destroyed, mental health destabilised and an economy in tatters. And for what? The seasonal excess death rate is average over the last five years. The relevance of a line graph depends on the scale you choose; it’s easy to make increases look enormous if you so wish.

        As for getting CV – nice to read those compassionate lefties, as ever – I might have had it; I might get it; I might be fine; I might die. That’s life.

      • At least in the U.S., the death rate is substantially higher than your “99% of all active cases in ‘mild condition’.”

        Lockdown does have terrible economic consequences. This is a valid point.

        But so does death and disease. So does an overwhelmed health care system, including hospitals, nursing homes, and much more. So does industry incapacitated by infection. This barely scratches the surface.

        • William, Anthony – all I can say is that I don’t fundamentally disagree with either of you, and I don’t think there is any one right response or solution to this awful problem. Stay safe and well!

          • @Marfisa: Absolutely, I don’t think we disagree on anything. There are precautions to be taken, and most responsible people respond to that, myself included. the bug may be bigger than all of us, it may not, but available evidence at this stage suggests we have a far greater chance of recovery than not, should we contract it. This, crucially, is the knife edge upon which we encounter those who blindly perceive CV as being the End Of The World As We Know It and aggressively require everyone’s behaviour and attitude towards it to reflect such. Once this mindset has been put into motion we unwittingly start to dig our own emotional, social and professional graves, should our governments not have got there, first. I feel we have a duty to ourselves, our loved ones and the society which has enabled so much, to look beyond the confusion with which we’re confronted. I wish you well.

      • There is, indeed, “a virus going round that affects the ability of people to read, think and argue clearly, logically and rationally (and courteously).”

        The name of this virus is Donald Trump.

        This orange virus spreads disinformation across the country and the world.

        He infects public discourse. He infects the delivery of the facts about anything from climate change, to the U.S. citizenship of President Obama, to the facts surrounding this pandemic and its lethality.

        This orange virus is threatening to fire the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Fauci, after the election.

        This orange virus spreads the COVID-19 virus, both metaphorically and literally. This orange virus literally holds superspreader events, infecting many others–including, perversely enough, his own voters!

        Wouldn’t it be some sort of karma, were the orange virus to lose the election tomorrow by a margin smaller than the number of his potential voters who died unnecessarily prematurely from COVID-19!

        Former Republican aspirant to the Presidency, Herman Cain, died of COVID-19 after attending a Trump event.

        Is it a guarantee that Cain contracted the virus from the orange virus? No. Or at that event? No–or did Cain spread the virus to others at that event?

        If the White House did contact tracing, we could possibly know that answer. But the White House refuses to do contact tracing, because the orange virus does not want to acknowledge the severity of this pandemic, nor to disseminate factual information about the COVID-19 virus.

        By tomorrow, I hope that the country will be vaccinated against this insidious orange virus, and that the virus will be removed from government on January 21st.

        VOTE TOMORROW!!!!!

  • Wow so many arts people are bellyaching over the corona pandemic lockdown because they made bad financial decisions and didn’t have enough cushion money to weather the few months of lockdown for the greater good.

    • While I entirely support the position articulatd by Greg Bottini and others above, and am repulsed by that of Anthony Sayer, I find your statement a little callous. People who are working three low-paying jobs to make ends meet — to feed their kids, to make rent — are not necessarily guilty of “bad financial decisions.” And people in such circumstances rarely have the “cushion money” sufficient to weather months without income.

      In England, and parts of Europe, they are facing national lockdown again. How big a cushion do you suppose one can salt away after working in a shop or café? For how many months can most people support themselves, let alone families, without income?

      A little empathy, please. Not all who find themselves without financial resources have been in the same circumstances. Poverty is not a criminal offence, nor even a sin. Any more than “earning” like a Kardashian so you can have a birthday party on a private island is a virtue.

      • @V.Lind: As one who enjoys your normally erudite and considered contributions, I’d be interested to know what part of my above post(s) ‘repulsed’ you, and why.

        • “It’s funny how anyone who does not buy into the apocalyptic mindset by merely looking at available statistics (the government’s own, largely – the ONS) is systematically insulted and has a particularly nasty version of the bug wished upon them. Bravo. Go and hide under the stairs with your face nappy and keep your invective for yourself.”

          The why is the tendency to fly off into a rather puerile type of insult (this is not the only one in these exchanges). You are reasonably articulate. You have a point of view (with which I tend to disagree). But most of the participants in this debate — which I read carefully in order to learn — have done so with vigorous but civilised language.

          Just to be clear: I may counter, but am not repulsed by, an argument with which I disagree. I value debate, which is why I believe in healthy opposition parties (and occasional change of government), and the freedom to discuss all the controversial issues — including the current deathtrap, transgenderism — in the public presses and especially the universities. (A porter is in danger of losing his job at Cambridge because the students object to his having raised questions — questions — about aspects of this debate).

          So do argue on, Mr. Sayer, but please mind your p’s and q’s! 🙂

          • Thank you. My tendency to occasionally fly off into a certain type of insult is no-one’s problem except my own; I sometimes reach a point where I just no longer wish to continue making the effort to be civil. The language used may undermine my point of view in the eyes of some but I stand by the message. There is denial of the truth in the face of blatant facts (as demonstrated, patiently, by Marfisa) but should one merely point this out, one is subjected to invective. This is not civilised debate, this becomes Right Or Wrong and its defenders basically incapable of engaging in debate. Greg Bottini’s conflation of indisputable facts (see Marfisa, above) with being a Trump supporter is just one example of the limited mental capacity available to so many who seek to politicise this bug even further. I’m afraid your implication that Trump supporters are responsible for spreading the virus in American theatre lavatories is also unrepresentative of what you normally post. What’s more, hospitality in the theatres in the country where I live was suspended upon re-opening and remained so right up until this latest lockdown. Performances had no interval, thus further reducing the risk of contamination. The amount of people using the lavatories at any one time was in accordance with sanitary guidelines.

            The French PM today said he recommended wearing face masks at home. My slightly crude comment is, sadly, looking more and more like a future government decree, so if you admit I am ‘reasonably articulate’, it might pay to think past any offence one may initially feel when reading such words.

      • If you consider swivel-eyed, deranged rants such as those articulated (sic) by Greg Bottini representative of the truth but consider my use of the word ‘nappy’ repulsive, then I’m happy to defend a different point of view from you. That said, your argument in support of low earners in the face of another lockdown was reasonably articulate.

    • Why do you blame the victims?

      Why avoid addressing the greater systemic issues that are the real reasons behind this crisis?

      Most musicians I know work diligently and incessantly to scrape together a living.

      The vast majority of U.S. classical musicians struggle to be in the middle class. Many live paycheck-to-paycheck.

      At least in the U.S., a substantial part of their net worth is very often not in a house, or in the stock market, or in savings, but in the instrument(s) that they play. Many cannot afford to buy a house, because of the combination of low pay and the equity tied up in the instrument. If and when they choose to leave music, sometimes they can use the money to buy a house. In most cases, a less expensive instrument will hold them back in their careers; if that weren’t the case, then all instruments would be less expensive. N.B. We may see at least a temporary dip in instrument costs on the used market, as many musicians exit the profession. Buyers, hunt for bargains.

      I can’t speak for how things are in Bavaria, but there are vast inequities in the United States.

      The 50 richest people in the U.S., own the same amount of wealth as the bottom 165 million people.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-10-08/top-50-richest-people-in-the-us-are-worth-as-much-as-poorest-165-million

      A few U.S. classical musicians are quite wealthy, but none are at that level of wealth. Many are part of the working poor.

  • I shudder to think about the devestating effect that all this will have on music. People who have trained, and disciplined themselves for so many years in order to bring the beauty of music into our lives…will all this be for naught? Will governments fail in this, as they seem to be failing in so much else? What a loss this will be, what a loss it already is!

    • What is also ridiculous is that the (serious) arts have been applying the requisite sanitary measures scrupulously, as have restaurants. That they should be the first to be shut down shows extraordinary bad faith.

      • Restaurants may have, but the punters have not. Just yesterday I read a report saying “Eat out to help out” was probably responsible for a large part of the second spike. We all saw footage of groups of young people massing indiscriminately once the pubs opened.

        Business owners may well be prepared to obey every stricture, but once the public is let in, you are herding cats. And when you have examples such as Trump rallies (where the principal, and a lot of attendees, have been infected), the problem is not even being addressed. Or recognised. 225,000 and counting in 8 months — that is significant.

          • All of them? I doubt it. Coming in, going out, in the washrooms, in the bars…they doubtless mean to when they set out, but life gets in the way.

            Maybe in the UK. Never in the US. Too many Republicans are arts supporters, and too many of those have swallowed the Trump kool-aid.

          • So, without the patronage of Trump supporters, the arts in the US would be in an even more parlous state than they are now. That seems to be what you’re implying. As for the first paragraph, see my reply to your comment, above.

          • I’m really implying that the general Republican position that the less government the better (except if a corrupt or mismanaged huge business needs a bailout) has led to all too many of them ignoring the expert advice to socially distance and wear masks in public. Check out footage of any Trump rally, and while I can’t keep up with his constantly changing accounts of himself he has tended over all to be anti-mask — he certainly does not lead by example in this regard.

            Mind you, I doubt there is HUGE overlap between the MAGA crowd and the Mahler audience. More your Lee Greenwood fans, I suspect. But the party that sustains him does attend the opera, and their fearless leader is telling them to do what they want.

            The man is a fool. I am constantly mystified how people with a brain in their head, in which category I include you, can support him.

            God willing, we are hours away from the beginning of creating his legacy.

          • That’s more like the level I’m accustomed to in your posts. Supporting disjointed, truth-denying, ad hominem attack-ridden rants, taking issue with a comment which looks more and more like becoming compulsory in some places (however colourfully expressed) and being patronising do not suit you.

            I’m tired of the space American politics grabs in our lives, whether we want to listen or not. Trump is certainly a buffoon who sets a poor example but voting Biden will probably foist Kamala Harris on the country sooner rather than later. Coming fourteenth out of seventeen candidates in her own party’s primaries indicates not even the Democrats want her. Does that augur well for the next few years? Seeing how we were all told by the media ad nauseam that Hillary would walk the election in 2016, I’m not sure anything can be ruled out. Who knows, if Trump is re-elected, we might be looking at another four years without the USA declaring war on anyone. Now, that would be something.

          • I’d like not to give a damn about any of them, but while their current leader goes about dismantling the fragile scaffolding upon which democracy rests, the US still holds a lot of our fates in its undeserving hands.

            That two parties with histories like theirs cannot come up with better teams of candidates than these is a sad testimony to the brutalisation of American politics, especially due to money and the power of big-money interests. The 24-hour news cycle and the rapacity of the tabloid mentality and its insinuation into the real press have not helped, either. To offer for office is not just to have to start raising $10,000 a week for re-election to Congress fro the day you are elected but also to subject yourself and your family to devastating levels of intrusion into their lives.

            You may not like Kamala Harris, but she has put herself out there to serve. I don’t much fancy her as President either — I would like the US to have eventually elected a woman president, not inherited one when an ageing man pushes himself too far. And I am not sure it would have been her, and I AM sure there were better ones who also put themselves out there.

            I recently re-watched The West Wing. At the time, it seemed like a fictional version of what goes on Today, it is just a fantasy.

          • I don’t know Kamala Harris and have no opinion on her abilities, but her popularity rating among her own party members suggests other factors were determinant in her selection as VP. My country elected a woman PM in the still macho, pre box-ticking era of the 1970s. Regardless of what one might have thought of her, it was one hell of an achievement. I don’t think we have that kind of level playing field any more.

            I’m horrified but not altogether surprised that the USA could not come up with two better finalists out of a population of 328m. It does make for a rather lacklustre choice; I’d imagine many people will end up voting against rather than for a particular candidate. That’s depressing.

            As for power and big-money interests, ’twas ever thus, was it not? Growing up, I always had the feeling that the Republicans and Democrats were basically two right-wing parties who flew the flag for private enterprise and the can-do mentality, something Europe has been abandoning since 1945 in its obsessive love affair with the welfare state. The Democrats’ obsession with wokery-pokery may well come back to torment them. Not sure how it’ll sit with the mid-West (or much of the coasts) if Harris eventually gets to squat the Oval Office.

          • As I read yours and reply, early returns are beginning to filter in.

            Let me put it this way: nobody on either ticket tonight will be on the 2024 tickets.

            They’ve both got ANOTHER 4 years (the Democrats completely missed their chance since 2016) to get their acts together. I’m not sure I see much bench strength at the moment, but when a week is a long time in politics, they have quite a lot of weeks to make marks.

            I remember the first lady PM and I suspect you intuited that I was not a fan. But she certainly had guts and convictions. Led to pig-headedness — she actually once said, when the entire Commonwealth Conference was lined up in opposition to her (I think over South Africa) that they were all wrong and only she was right. She was not a good listener. But she shows up her successors as the gnats they are.

            You’re not wrong about the Dems and Republicans. Two sides of the same coin, both backed by huge financial interests. Jack Nicklaus, who fancies himself as an elder statesman, just came out for Trump (what a surprise — the PGA Tour is the Republican Party at play) but made a fool of himself by branding Joe Biden “socialist.” Such is the state of education that a man can reach 80 and still believe such bilge.

            Early exit polls, however, say 35% think that sorting out Covid should take precedence over restarting the economy. That is not the Trump position, so we shall see…

          • I couldn’t imagine Margaret Thatcher being your cup of tea. Whatever one might have thought of her politics, she had more guts, convictions and drive than any other British premier in living memory. My feelings about her are mixed: while I admire how she got the country back on its feet economically I resent the negative effect she had on the fabric of society. She may not have been a good listener but she stood up for her country. That’s positively frowned upon these days over here.

            As for the Democrats, they might be falling into the same trap as the laughable LibDems and Labour in the UK in their incapacity to biologically define a woman, and this nonsense may cost them dear. If they choose to ignore normal voters they risk spending a long time in the wilderness. After the suppression of the Hunter Biden story and shameless political bias in mainstream media, Trump may feel justified in being a bit suspicious of the vote-counting. It’s a freak show, and it’s diverting our attention from more important things in our own countries: how to deal with resurgent Islamic terrorism, governmental management of CV-19, Brexit and the rest. These are all far more important issues over here than which septuagenarian gets to sit in a nice office on Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years.

  • In all the sound and fury so far on this thread, nobody has commented on Kevin Connors’ thoughtful and moving account of his last day of rehearsal, his last evening watching his colleagues perform, for who knows how long. I wish now I could have gone to the Staatsoper during my shortish stay in Munich over a decade ago. Will I ever have another chance?

    • I’m sure you will. The Germans will ensure it’ll be business as usual as soon as they can; the arts are extremely important to them and their presence in the country’s landscape enshrined in the constitution.

      Kevin echos what many have experienced. They are dispiriting moments but we will see better days soon enough.

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