Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Acting vs. Voice

He asks two questions I want to answer - Why do we opera loyalist havesuch large audio collections?- because of technology (and associated costs). The boffins figured outa long time ago how to put audio onto recording media; the majority ofposters on Opera-L I guess are of an age where audio records werecommonplace(probably Vinyl 33s; being slightly younger than average, myformative experiences were from 78s - which often played at 76 or82...blame my late father). Audio reproduction has always been ahead ofaudio-visual - videos became commonplace in homes just before CDplayers. DVDs have only really become mainstream in the past five yearsor so. At all stages of technology, audio has been at least a decadeahead of audio-visual (my estimate, anyway). If, somehow, the earlyGramophones had been audio-visual, our grandparents would not havesettled for audio only. Even now, on the whole, CDs are cheaper thanDVDs. Downloading from the internet is less time consuming, less greedyof hard disc space, less exhaustive of RAM for audio only than foraudio-visual (as an Operashare addict, I find an audio only opera is 3or 4 files, a video often more than 20. A CD can be burned whenmulti-tasking; a DVD has to be left to cook overnight or when I am outof the house).The other question:- Why do we prefer the live experience over a DVD?Shared Communal Experience. The need to be part of a crowd. A dozen orso years ago, a colleague explained to me that within a decade no onewould go out, because we would all have such fantastic technology athome there would be no need to go out. During the 1998 World Cup he wentand watched a football match on a Big Screen in a central London park.How I taunted him: it was on terrestrial TV, he could have watched it athome with all his home comforts. His answer - surrounded by Nigerians inthe Park (it was a Nigeria match), he could get loads of atmosphere thathis Nigerian wife and Nigerian children were sadly incapable ofproviding at home! It was an event! He would have also have got a betterview in his own living room. But he had to be among what he suddenly anduncharacteristically termed 'his people'. I won /that/ argument! (Heconceded defeat!)As a BTW, much as I am looking forward to live performances coming up,and looking forward to dressing up, and chatting with friends, andgetting all excited, and eating out in a restaurant, and hearing my menlive, I spend a lot more time watching DVDs in solitude at home dressedin my pyjamas armed only with a box of chocolates and a cup of tea, andwith the ability to rewind on my remote. Plus I don't have to face aless-than-pleasant journey back, in the land of reality. Differentexperiences. IMO, the satisfaction per pound (or dollar or Euro) spentis comparable.

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