No Laughing Matter: Jonathan Miller Wins a Free Hotel Room

Our daily Festival News features stories from around the world about all festival elements: art, artists, business, management, performance, politics, the strange-but-true, and travel. Usually, there is a good dose of humor, as well. After all, creating a festival is not the easiest way of life. A day without laughter is as bad as a day without art.

This week we have a story that is no laughing matter. Jonathan Miller has been giving interviews on his impending retirement from directing opera. This would be a loss. His productions have been integral to the success of many festivals, and brought new life to a too-often stultified art-form.

Of course, Miller’s career started with the goal of making people laugh. As a founding member of Beyond the Fringe, Miller and his collaborators loved to tweak the establishment, the pompous, and the too-highly-minded.

Miller’s opera productions were noted for doing the same, albeit not always playing for laughs. This was opera determined to make a direct connection to an audience, cutting through the jewels, the gowns, and the socializing boxes.

Why is he fed up? Although at the top of the artistic ladder, his work barely covers his costs, including a hotel room. He’s annoyed at the three hours of paperwork it takes to work in America; he’s angry at the indifference of critics; he can’t find a way to respect managements who hold onto the past, and its money.

He’s not that happy with a lot of productions he sees, as well. He has described one recent production as so bad it was “like receiving a maple syrup enema.” (Wow. Hadn’t thought of that one. Then again, our home state produces the most maple syrup — is this a new market?)

Miller is too well trained, too smart, too talented, and too perceptive for his words to be taken lightly. He is far from the character description: a bitter crank coming to the end of a career. He is rather, as always, shining a light on something that deserves attention.

Wouldn’t it be better if we could create work - and working environments - that would make a Jonathan Miller proud? Wouldn’t that be a great legacy?

Jonathan Miller deserves this - and so do opera audiences.

At least, KadmusArts will cover his hotel room and help him speed through the paperwork. It’s a start.

What will you do?

- Bill Reichblum

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One Response to “No Laughing Matter: Jonathan Miller Wins a Free Hotel Room”

  1. KadmusArts - where culture speaks » Blog Archive » Watching YouTube and YourRights
    October 22nd, 2006 23:32

    [...] We recently posted a story on Jonathan Miller, along with a blog invitation — a free hotel room to help facilitate his next production. In the blog, we had a link to YouTube to see a sample of Miller’s work with Beyond the Fringe. Soon after letting his representative know about the blog invitation, guess what: the material on YouTube was taken off the site for a Terms of Use violation. It appears as though a copyright holder complained. (Currently, you can still see video clips of Beyond the Fringe on YouTube; however, not the ones that include Jonathan Miller.) [...]

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