The Case For and Against Making A Case for the Makropoulos Case
November 29, 2010
If an artistic event has been and gone, is it still worth writing about?
Timeliness is of course next to godliness when it comes to arts journalism. But sometimes I think that the media places too much of an emphasis on coverage as a means of driving audiences to experience a particular artistic event. Sure, it makes sense both from the producing organization's perspective and media organization's perspective to publish content that can drive sales. Yet there should be more to arts journalism than touting a current arts event.
I bring this up because I planned to write about the San Francisco Opera's production of Janacek's little-performed The Makropoulos Case today. But I just realized that the final performance happened yesterday. So, is there any real point in saying what I think of the production if no one can see it?
ArtsJournal, I notice, tends in general to stay away from giving prominence on its homepage to blog entries that offer commentary about individual arts events, probably because the editor figures that 99% of the global readership won't be able to experience the event under discussion.
I still think there's a place for commentary after the fact though, and it's great at least that the "gate-keeper-less" blogging format allows for such entries, even if they don't claim as high a status as entries that deal with more topical / trend-based themes might. For one thing, commentary on any work of art composed even years after the event is over, is one way of capturing its essence and fixing it in people's memories. For another, it helps to build a useful and often fascinating record of a body of work.
On the other hand, I don't think I'll write a full-on review of The Makropoulos Case this time, even though I loved it and wish the run could have been longer so I could see the production again and encourage others to get to it. I guess the main reason for this reluctance is simply that so much has been said about the opera in recent weeks. On this occasion I don't think I have much new to add to the mix. Hence the rather "meta" nature of this blog post.
Oh well. Having started out by saying that there is a case for writing a response to a work very late, I've now gone and demonstrated a set of circumstances in which doing so shall remain an aspiration.