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Opera stalls

28/01/2010

On Tuesday evening TF1 – France’s independent terrestrial telly station (owned by Sarkochum, Monsieur Martin

Nicolas Sarkozy (2008, from Commons Wiki)

Bouygues, and consisting of about 99.9 percent tripe) – treated those of us willing to indulge in it to two hours in the President’s company. First of all he was interviewed by another Sarkopal, TFI prime-time news presenter Laurence Ferrari. Then he was placed among 11 carefully-selected exemplars of the breed ‘ordinary people’. Whatever an ‘ordinary person’ might be. I have no idea; if you have, please enlighten me. In any case a sample of this size could hardly be said to represent the 32 percent of the entire French telly audience who were reportedly following this prog (that’s an astonishing figure of 8,800,000 people).
Anyway, the usual sedulously-rehearsed, scripted and sanitised blahdiblahblah ensued with which I have no doubt you are already familiar to the point of nausea. And if you’re not, I certainly am. I confess I couldn’t be arsed with it, as I was in fact eagerly awaiting the start of an opera transmission on Arte (Franco-German telly station). The opera was Massenet’s Werther, based on Goethe’s early novel of romantic Sturm-und-Drang. And the production – a marvel, originally staged at The Garden by film director Benoît Jacquot – was from l’Opéra de la Bastille. Jonas Kaufmann in finest fettle gloried in a title rôle that might have been written for him. He was partnered by the equally starry

Goethe in the Roman Campagna (1786 painting by Tischbein via Commons Wiki)

Sophie Koch as Charlotte. There was a brilliant supporting cast, and superb sets based on the paintings of Hammershøj: envoûtant! Who needs to listen to Pan-Sticked politicians spouting falsehoods and inaccuracies when you can watch opera singers not only singing but also acting with wholehearted conviction as well as ravishing brilliance, transporting you into a magical and much more interesting world? And all thanks to Franco-German understanding.
But I did dutifully watch enough of the Sarko show to catch a few of the comparisons Himself was making between French policy in certain areas and that applied by other countries, e.g. the USA and Germany.
I can’t comment on his accuracy when it comes to the States. But I was interested to know what the German press in general and Arte’s current affairs team in particular made of the French President’s take on their administration. Hm. It turned out that on Germany Sarko got nearly everything wrong. ‘Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen,’ as a German commentator might justifiably have quoted in warning. Thus, in Germany upper tax limits = x selon Sarko? Er, no, said the Germans. German Corporation Tax = y? No again. German apprenticeships = z? Certainly not! Und so weiter.
Honestly, with all those frightfully clever special advisers on hand you’d think they’d get basic economic briefings right for our Fearless Leaders, wouldn’t you? Or is it that the whole sorry bunch of them are so accustomed to dealing in untruth that when faced with veracity their default mode is to lie? Or do they believe the rest of us are all so dense that we can’t spot a fudge or a cover-up when we see one? I wonder what Goethe himself would have made of it.
Still now I know for certain why I prefer the arts to politics. ‘Vesti la giubba!’

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