Aug 11 1984
Dear Peter Jamieson,
Thanks for bothering to write to me with your expression of support for my non-opera views. I have occasionally tried denting the self-satisfaction of opera fans with my piercing and well-aimed arguments, but they merely bounce off. Opera devotion is not a cultural allegiance; it is a kind of religion, I think. I have noticed many of my friends in their early 40s suddenly developing a taste for opera, and I think it is an expression of a desire for religious belief or ceremony among people who can’t believe in religion. I have also noticed that an incredibly small number of people who love opera actually play an instrument or know anything about music technically, and I feel that it may be music for people who don’t really like music.
I don’t really have any feelings about ballet. I was taken to see Swan Lake the other day done by the Moscow Classical Ballet, in Bristol, and I found the whole thing fascinating, though I was amazed to find that apart from a few famous-type tunes, Tchaikovsky’s music was very thin. But the difference was that whereas in opera, if you are bored, you can only listen to a voice wobbling, in ballet you can watch a whole body wobbling, which is more entertaining. I may go to another ballet in 20 years time. Opera, no.
Have I got this wrong or were you the bloke who sent me that lovely Hallberg LP on tape? If so, you will be pleased to know that it has travelled with me through Burma and China with a BBC sortie last year. In return, I have taped for you a recent, hard to get LP by Hallberg called Hallberg’s Surprise. It is all solo stuff, all quirky versions of familiar stuff in very different guise.
I have also added two tracks by Tete Montoliu, the blind Catalan pianist,
and a version of Here’s That Rainy Day by Michel Petrucciani, the dwarf Italian pianist.
Didn’t mean to make it an all medical occasion. If you weren’t the guy who sent me the tape, who in hell was it?