#operaplot winners announced (irony and post-modernism are shut out)

The judge has spoken and the winners have been announced. (I was kinda hoping that Jonas Kaufmann would record this momentous announcement in rich Wagnerian tenor in a full orchestral setting).

With almost 1000 entries, narrowing the field to 5 winners was surely a daunting task and there was no doubt that many worthy entries would be passed over. The decision was bound to be a highly subjective one, depending largely on the sensibilities of the judge and his/her own sense of humor.

By almost any measure, Kaufmann has shown himself to have very conservative tastes. The winning entries are largely straightforward summarizations with the only the gentlest of twists. The most “modern” opera is Elektra (1909). It appears that Kaufmann had little appreciation for anachronism, post-modernism, or any pop culture references at all (with the exception of Daniel John Kelley’s txt-speak paraphrasing of Eugene Onegin). Based on these selections, I would guess that were Kaufmann to take a Meyers-Briggs test, he would test very high on the Sensing (as opposed to the iNtuiting) axis.

As a result, there are easily dozens of very clever entries that are going unnoticed, and that’s a shame. I’ve done pretty well myself (the extra effort of recording the Oedipus #operaplot paid off with a “Best creative use of an #operaplot” mention and my Gen-Yers misunderstanding of La Boheme was appreciated by the folks over at the English National Orchestra) but many of my favorite entries from other #operaplotters have been tragically overlooked. Regular readers know I have a deep appreciation for the ironic and the post-modern (and a complicated love-hate relationship with genre mashing). I rank so far on the iNtuitive axis that I have a hard time even making conversation with Sensors (my own wife is an N, and problems still pop up because she’s JUST NOT N ENOUGH DAMMIT!) Clearly my list of the five strongest #operaplots would look quite different. In fact, it would look more similar to the five randomly selected #operaplots that received Decca CDs than Kaufmann’s official list!

So, my fellow ironists, satirists, and post-modernists, I solemnly commit myself  to attaining a level of professional fame and notoriety sufficient to  reach the exalted position of #operaplot judge so that your ironic, satirical, and post-modern #operaplot entries can receive the recognition that they deserve!

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  1. 1

    Hi Brian,

    Appreciate your comments/critiques on the whole #operaplot deal, and got a chuckle out of your “scholarly taxonomy” of entries. That is part of the fun, isn’t it, seeing the disparate roads people can travel within 130 characters?

    Having now unexpectedly finished in the top 5 for two consecutive years, and neither time having had what I thought was my best entry selected, I can understand whence you’re coming in your analysis. Both years, I had personal lists of my favorite 3% or so (that included liberal doses of @MMmusing, @nbrockmann, and @frindley), and have been completely shut out in those picks, if memory serves.

    The wild card is always the particular judge’s sense of humor, of course, and so we’re always at risk of something not translating, especially with regard to the snarkier, more irreverent wing of our culture. For my part this year, recognizing that potential for misunderstanding, I tried to spread my entries around: a couple of limericks, a couple mildly snarky ones, a couple with a more ‘literalist’ bent, and a couple of wild cards. I figure it’s my best shot, in case the judge doesn’t share my sense of humor (which tends more toward wordplay and snark. I’m still hoping we’ll get a judge one day who fully appreciates that most elegant of creatures, the #operaplot limerick). I’d like to think others will adopt the same strategy as time goes on; flexibility is key in subjective matters.

    At any rate, my point is only this: the contest gets better when we offer constructive criticism, which you and I and others have done in blogs and on @missmussel’s website. However, you and @jenniferstumm and even @eighthblackbird really put those of us who do win in an awkward spot when you deride the winning entries as “tame”, etc., publicly (especially using what is now an otherwise quiet hashtag). It’s not our fault after all, that the judge chose the entries he did, but as no one else gets his entries critiqued publicly by the masses, could we also perhaps keep criticism of the winners in perspective, too? We’re just opera enthusiasts and logophiles like you, who happened to get lucky, and I think all of us know that we did, so the public critiques come off as particularly harsh in that light.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and consider this. From one extreme iNtuitive (INFJ) to another, I’m looking forward to playing the game with you again next year.

    Very best,
    James (@musicbizkid, aka the luckiest #operaplotter who ever #plotted an #opera)

  2. Brian Rosen #

    Hey there James. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    I certainly was concerned about trying to state my observations and opinions about the winning selections while being sensitive to those who did win (yourself included). I tried to use objective criteria, noting the nature of the winning selections rather than imposing too much judgement. (“Straightforward” and “conservative” is as harsh as I get.)

    I do agree that the best gift we can give each other as #operaplotters is the gift of attention. No one likes slaving over a clever bon mot only to see it lost in a sea of other #operaplots, which happens all too easily. I’d venture a guess that if not for the added value of actually producing an audio track, my Oedipus #operaplot would have been completely unnoticed. (I’m still frustrated that my own Nixon in China #operaplot has barely registered a blip on anyone’s radar. Come on, that’s frickin inspired!) I ultimately decided to write this entry not to dismiss the winning entries, but to ensure the many many un-winning entries that their efforts were not for naught, and to reenforce their suspicions that being declared an official winner should not be considered the sole yardstick for success.

    Unfortunately as an ENT, I know that I can easily bruise an INF without even realizing it. That certainly wasn’t my intention. Hopefully it’s nothing a nice dinner at Mangia! and a good opera won’t solve. 😀

    Oh… did you take any classes with my good friend Jon Holland at Berklee? He was my “little brother” at Interlochen Arts Academy way back when…


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