Guardian does a misguided (but probably earnest) write-up about the new
Glass opera THE PERFECT AMERICAN. I find journalism which says things
like "had said" when quoting
individuals almost bizarre. They clearly did not talk directly to Glass
and the flavor of the piece seems to be that this is going to be a
sensationalist attack on Walt Disney.
I really don't know where they get this from unless they are just trying to
find a story where there isn't one. I mean, gone are the days of Verdi where
the sensors make the composer make changes where there was a real fear that an
opera would incite revolution.
Out of the 24 Glass operas (depending on which you count as actual operas),
I can recall none which he wrote for characters which he didn't profoundly
admire. Disney, the corporation, doesn't like anything that they don't
control. That's understandable. However, from everything I've heard about
this, Glass will be appropriately reverent. He talks about putting Disney
on the stage, "warts and all." I anticipate the real
heart of the work will be about Disney "the visionary." After all,
isn't that what ALL of Glass' "portrait operas" are about: Gandhi,
Einstein, Akhnaten, Galileo, Kepler, Columbus, Vasco da Gama.
Does he negatively portray any of these characters? Sure, he showed
Kepler to be a sort of grumpy character and by all accounts, he was.
Columbus, who could be easily caricatured and vilified is mostly seen as a
sympathetic adventurer. Glass admires these historic personalities for their visionary fortitude. Disney will be about Disney the dreamer and creator much more than it will be about Disney the union busting jerk who was mean to his employees and himself couldn't draw.
My own opinion (or guess rather) is that the opera will be a great departure
from the Jungk novel of the same name. I believe Glass used it as a
starting point (perhaps a legal starting point for a composer who simply wanted
to write an opera about Disney.) But I'd be totally surprised if it resembled
the novel in most ways other than perhaps presenting some real incidents
showing an all too human Walt Disney. I'm not even sure that Jungk's
protagonist/antagonist Dantine is even in the opera.
My main point is that no one knows what the opera THE PERFECT AMERICAN actually is
about. Yet everyone in the Guardian piece talks about it as if they've seen it.
Strange considering rehearsals for the world premiere are taking place right
now and I'm sure the orchestra hasn't even yet seen the music. Everything
I've heard and read about for years has been the story of Disney the visionary,
and that Glass was "writing an opera about the death of