The medieval, German town where I live has turned itself into more of a tourist attraction this weekend by hosting hundreds of vendors from Umbria and Provence. The narrow streets are lined with booths selling food, handicrafts, and booze. Those same medieval streets are choked with people from the surrounding villages.
This is a university town and often described as an oasis in the hinterlands of southern Germany. The people who live here (highly educated, well-off, and generally 50+) like to think of themselves as cultured. Someone has hired an Italian tenor to sing three or four times a day in a little tent/stage across the square from my apartment. I cannot decide if he’s any good. I cannot decide if I have heard missed notes or noticed a lack of control because those things actually exist or because he’s singing three or four times a day in a small tent/stage in a street market mostly visited by working-class people from the surrounding villages. I mean, if he’s not singing in a state opera, how good can he really be? I am aware of the ridiculousness of that question. Perhaps I think he’s not very good because he’s poorly amplified and being accompanied by someone on a Casio? He just sang “La Donna e mobile” for the fourth or fifth time in the last two days, and really did strain to hit the high notes. I guess I’m just trying, in this essayistic whatever-this-is, to describe the cognitive dissonance of the situation, and the way in which the cognitive dissonance is creating a kind of political dissonance.
Hello, I’m a 40-year-old, highly-educated American living frugally in Germany. I grew up the son of working-class parents in the hinterlands of Nebraska, and saw an opera singer perform in the local cattle sale barn when I was 10ish. I feel culture is for everyone, but have always had a problem with the idea of bringing culture to the masses. I do not think beer hall music would be an appropriate substitute for the Italian tenor.