Culture Magazine

Once Bitten...Twice Shy

By Superconductor
New York City Opera jumps the shark.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

Once Bitten...Twice Shy

The image speaks for itself. Photoshop by Marcus Grundahl from
the blog Infrequent Updates on Things You Don't Care About. 
Original elements © ABC Television and Universal Pictures.

I couldn't believe it.
Here I was, putting up a nice new Google Adsense banner on my blog, (from the New York City Opera, no less) when I took a closer look at the animated art unfurling in my (hopefully) valuable cybernetic real estate.
"Powder Her Face by Thomas Ades" it blurted.
OK. They spelled Mr. Adès' name slightly wrong but that's forgivable. A font error or a case of whoever made the banner doesn't know how to use the option key.
"The Turn of the Screw...by Benjamin Bitten."
Bitten? BITTEN?
Don't believe me? Here's a screen-shot, taken earlier this evening. This is NOT an ad banner in the middle of the article (although it's frame-grabbed from my site.)

Once Bitten...Twice Shy

I can't make this up. Framegrab from Superconductor. (Wow, that's so meta!)



That's a little bit of a serious typographical error. Changing it in spell-check to "Britain" would be bad enough. But..."Bitten?"
Sigh. I'm not even going to comment that the syntax reads "NEW YORK CITY THE TURN OF THE OPERA SCREW BY BENJAMIN BITTEN." That's just all kinds of wrong.
Yes, readers, the "new" New York City Opera is coming back this month. The 2013 season starts with two programs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music--the first two of its brief four opera season. While last year's BAM run consisted of imports, (a Glimmerglass La Traviata and Rupert Wainwright's Prima Donna), this year's season at least features new productions.
First up is the aforementioned Powder Her Face opening Feb. 15. Thomas Ádes is hot this year, with the Met's new production of The Tempest finally establishing this British composer as a force on the New York opera scene.
Powder is Mr. Ádes' first opera, a two-act chamber piece that chronicles the scandalous 1963 divorce of one Margaret Campbell, the so-called "Dirty Duchess" from her husband the Duke of Argyll. Allison Cook sings the title role.

The second opera is by Benjamin Bitten...er Britten: The Turn of the Screw. This is Henry James' wonderfully evocative ghost story, the literal sound of a governess going slowly insane as she tries to battle for the soul of the little boy and girl that are in her care. This is a new production for City Opera, which last presented Turn in a co-staging with their former partners at Glimmerglass.
Getting back to that typo for a second. It's one thing to...er...screw up the name of an obscure composer. But Benjamin Britten is not only one of the most important opera composers of the 20th century--he is also about to turn 100 years old--cause for new productions and revivals of his work in and around New York City in the coming year.
He deserves better than this.

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