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Monday Roundup


by Jerome Weeks 27 Apr 2009

L’amour, l’amour: We all love Carmen. The Fort Worth Opera’s production of the Bizet classic got excited reviews from Scott Cantrell and Wayne Lee Gay, especially for SMU grad Beth Clayton in the title role. Cantrell goes out of his way to make this point, however: The Carmen that Fort Worth Opera opened Saturday night […]

CTA TBD

L’amour, l’amour: We all love Carmen. The Fort Worth Opera’s production of the Bizet classic got excited reviews from Scott Cantrell and Wayne Lee Gay, especially for SMU grad Beth Clayton in the title role. Cantrell goes out of his way to make this point, however:

The Carmen that Fort Worth Opera opened Saturday night would have been unimaginable from this company even six years ago. The singing ranged from thoroughly capable to thrilling, with orchestra and chorus in fine form and a lively staging.General director Darren K. Woods has turned a company that used to be provincial in all the bad senses into one that looks and sounds entirely professional.

It’s now official. Composer Jake Heggie is everywhere. At least in North Texas. The composer of the (whale ho!) coming-next-year Moby-Dick has been in these parts for the Fort Worth Opera’s production of his opera, Dead Man Walking (May 2 and 10). But so far, his visit has also included a public panel on arts and social change at SMU with author Sister Helen Prejean. And Saturday at the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, he played  a Cliburn at the Modern concert, featuring six singers performing Heggie’s songs.

We were just talking about odious online comments, weren’t we? Yes, we were, he added, hastily linking to evidence that might back up his claim before the inevitable onslaught of readers’ attacks. In the New York Times Sunday Magazine, columnist Virginia Heffernan examines why and how comments affect Web journalism:

Online commentary is a bête noire for journalists and readers alike. Most journalists hate to read it, because it’s stinging and distracting, and readers rarely plow through long comments sections unless they intend to post something themselves. But perhaps the comments have become so reader-unfriendly, in part, because of the conventions of the Web-comment form.

One of the more interesting observations Heffernan makes: Online comments often follow a pattern, depending on the time of day. She also gets around to a personal objection of my own: readers who respond with their pet causes, regardless of what the post is about, revealing they haven’t actually read it. It’s not simply distracting; it destroys even the illusion of conversation or exchange, which, after all, is the Web’s highly vaunted, interactive advantage over traditional media

This echo-chamber effect is unpleasant, and it makes it hard to keep listening for the clearer, brighter, rarer voices nearly drowned out in the online din. Which is too bad: newspaper journalism benefits from reader comments. Creating registration standards, inventive means of moderating and displaying comments, membership benefits for regular posters and ratings systems for useful comments are just some of the ways that other news outlets like Slate have improved the quality of reader responses.

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