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8.5.04

That's Good Reading: Fully Credited Links

From The Guardian, there is an article (The dilettante tendency, May 4) by Jane Morris, which you should read.

An independent survey published today by the Museums Association reveals that museum and gallery staff earn significantly less than all equivalent professions—such as librarians, university lecturers, journalists—and many earn less in real terms than they did 15 years ago.
Given the amount of money it costs to get a graduate school education combined with perilously diminutive salaries after you graduate, more and more the only class of people who will be able to work in the museum field will those with "private means, like the gentlemen curators of old."

TV5 carried a report from Agence France-Press (Inauguration du grand foyer du Palais Garnier restauré [Opening of the restored great hall of the Palais Garnier], May 4) about the reopening of the restored great hall of the Palais Garnier, undertaken by the French government's Ministry of Culture (read the Ionarts Proposal, March 28, to see why we should have one here in the United States) at a cost of €5.8 million ($7 million). This is the latest installment in the campaign to restore that building, including the exterior cleaning of the south façade, the results of which were incredible to see.

To go along with Wednesday's post on the Savoy Opera, another young opera company making waves in Europe, Russia's Helikon Opera (site in Russian only), was written up by Erica Jeal in an article (Bolshier than the Bolshoi, May 7) in The Guardian:
Their initial repertoire was eclectic and often unusual—Debussy's L'Enfant Prodigue, Fleischmann's Rothschild's Violin—and showed a healthy disregard for box office. [. . .] Yet despite all this official approval, Bertman explains, there was still a problem. "For the first performance we would have a full house, full of our colleagues, critics and musicologists. The second would be empty: nobody knew us, nobody knew the operas, and, of course, everyone hates modern music." So he changed tack, keeping the innovative production methods but applying them to better-known repertoire, until he felt he had built up an audience that was loyal to the company. [. . .] Other recent productions have ranged from Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (the first Moscow staging of the work in its original version) back to the 18th-century obscurity that is Grétry's Pierre le Grand. [. . .]

Next year, when the theatre closes while a new 800-seat auditorium is built in what is now a courtyard, those terms will understandably be relaxed; but a 90-date US tour of Die Fledermaus is already booked and the company members are unlikely to be twiddling their thumbs.
The Helikon Opera's productions of Carmen, The Queen of Spades, and Pyramus and Thisbe will be shown at the Peacock Theatre in London, on May 11 to 15. No news yet whether their American tour will include Washington, D.C., but I am guessing that I will be writing about them again next year.

The Cranky Professor comments on a subject that hit home with me (Teaching High School, May 5), and I say this not only because I secretly want to be included on that blog's list of Blogging Medievalists. The CP put in his time, teaching Latin in high school before he found a university position. I agree with most of the post: younger age groups, especially middle schoolers, are not for everyone. It's not just that you would be driven crazy by middle school kids, but that the students themselves need the right sorts of teachers. As my headmaster put it so well, "teaching middle school is a controlled disaster." The more emphasis you can have on "controlled" over "disaster," the better off you will be. The only point I disagree with, only slightly, is about the relative work loads of those teaching in high schools and colleges:
Then there's the question of repetition and contact hours. High school teachers ALL teach higher loads than college teachers and with more repetition of the material. I had friends who taught 5 sections of the same prep 5 days a week.
That is certainly true of public school teachers, but not of us in private schools. When I compare my work load (at maximum, about 20 contact periods of a possible 40 per week, with no more than two sections of the same course possible) with that of colleagues in entry-level university positions, I realize that I actually have it better. Have you read any of the ads for college positions lately? It is not just adjuncts who are getting the short end of the stick, but junior faculty who get duties piled on until there's no tomorrow, such as the musicologist who must teach classes in music history (invariably in American popular music and world music, as well as historical music) and music theory and private lessons in a wind instrument, conduct a Collegium Musicum, coordinate lesson teaching for the pedagogy program, direct theses and dissertations, and participate in departmental meetings. All of this with the pressing demand to conduct research in what little time is left, organize meetings and congresses and give papers at them, and publish books and articles. I actually have lots of time for my research and have produced more than some of my colleagues in university positions. Now, it must be said that I teach in an unusual and very small school, so I cannot speak to the broader experience of other people in situations like mine. However, given the fact that the academic job market is musicology is so depressed, I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach music where I do.

Lastly, how about a new Michelangelo? BBC News had this article (Michelangelo Christ carving shown, May 6) about a little limewood Christ corpus (41 cm [16.1 inches] tall), which has become detached from its crucifix, that has been proven to be the work of Michelangelo, from around 1495. It has belonged to different private collections for many years and has therefore eluded the attention of art historians. The sculpture of the naked, crucified Christ—said to be similar to the crucifix above the high altar of Santo Spirito in Florence—will be exhibited in the Museo della Fondazione Horne in Florence through July.

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