Sunday, January 20, 2013


Jon Goldberg

I have always been uncomfortable with judgements such as "unmemorable."
LTo me, more often than not, unmemorable
is linked to (and really a synonym for) unfamiliar. Once you have listened to
something a few times, it tends to become familiar and "memorable." I do think
there are people, ,who expect that if they don't
"get" a piece of music the first time they hear it, it must be the music's fault for
not being memorable. What seems odd to me is that we, as opera lovers,
regularly absorb whole scores of material much more complex than anything
Donizetti could have imagined writing, and yet we can find a simpler score
"unmemorable"? I guarantee you, if history were a bit different and Maria
Stuarda was a standard rep piece and some rarity called Lucia di Lammermoor
were premiering at the Met this season, some people would be undoubtedly
wondering why Lucia isn't as memorable as Maria Stuarda, lol. It's all about

Now, if what you really meant to say was "unremarkable," (i.e. that this is not
Donizetti's finest writing) that's an opinion I could understand. In other words,
you might feel this is music not *worth* remembering. But to me that's not quite
the same as saying something is "unmemorable." I think if you gave the score a
chance and really took it in in a few listens, not only would it start to become
memorable, but you might even change your mind about the quality of the
material. Or, perhaps you wouldn't - but you'd still be able to remember the
tunes, lol.

I just think it's way too easy to say unmemorable/unhummable/etc - Broadway
critics tend to level such judgements at many new scores, when again part of the
issue is that this is all based on a first hearing. It's way too easy to dismiss
something after one hearing, without giving it a chance to get under your skin, so
to speak. And I can think of many pieces of music, operatic and otherwise, that I
thought I didn't like at all on a first hearing, but grew to love after getting to know
them better. Sometimes appreciating art really does take a bit of work. ;-)

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