Monday, February 14, 2011

Political journo as music critic

Max Frankel, the retired New York Times executive editor, who as a reporter covered Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China, weighs in on the John Adams-Peter Sellars opus "Nixon in China," now playing at the Metropolitan Opera:

Put off by the opera's historical liberties, Frankel endorses the 100-year rule attributed to Shakespeare: "[A] century as the minimal safe distance" between an event and an artistic treatment of it.

The New Yorker's Alex Ross reminds Frankel that artists essaying current events often are stymied by censors, so they've had to pluck story lines from distant history to comment on the here and now:

Speaking of rules, one of mine is to ignore music critiques by political journalists who misuse the word "crescendo." That culls the herd drastically. A cursory search of The Times' archives shows that Frankel (or whoever edited his copy) knows how to use the word.