Friday, June 5, 2009
Pirate Date Night
Much has been made of the president taking his wife to a Broadway play last week. Fortunately, Michelle Obama isn't the only one whose husband knows how to show a girl a good time!
My DH came home with tickets for us to see Gilbert & Sullivan's PIRATES OF PENZANCE tonight. It's a delightful little operetta with "piratitude." According to the playbill, this production is "freely plundered" from the original, which means the musical score is intact, but the spoken part of the show has been modernized, and probably "Disney-ized", to trade on the Pirates of the Caribbean popularity. That's fine. G & S shows have always been light-hearted, irreverent romps, full of incongruities and scathing satire. Updating them makes sense.
When I studied music history, I learned that Arthur Sullivan secretly loathed his work with Gilbert. He saw himself as a serious musician, a creator of sweeping grand opera. He believed his collaboration with the librettist Gilbert was holding him back from his true calling.
Unfortunately, Sullivan's attempts at the dramatic were abysmal--over-blown, pompous and just plain boring, while the music he wrote for Gilbert's saucy libretti sparkles with wit and enduring good humor. He might have wanted to be Wagner but he didn't have an authentic "big story" voice in him.
He was however the perfect composer for Gilbert's operettas, the father of the modern musical, and as long as there are staged works, his music will be a much-loved part of the repertoire.
This is a cautionary tale for me. An accurate self-image is more important than a good self-image.
As a writer, I'm sometimes tempted to try to 'write to the market.' However, since I have no "inner snark" in residence, attempting a chicklit would be futile. Vampires show no sign of slowing down in popularity, but if I don't find them sexy, I can't write them sexy. Just as Sullivan poured out his pattersongs, I have to write the stories that are in me, whether I think it's what the market wants or even what I wish I could write.
Tonight, I'm going to sit back and let the joy of frivolity wash over me. I only wish Arthur Sullivan could have taken the same pleasure in it.
So how about you? Have you and your significant other had any fun dates lately? Have you had any "ah-ha!" moments when you realized something you were good at was something other than what you thought you wanted to do?