The idea that Mozart was ever the Pop-Culture of its day is historically incorrect, if not downright silly. Even in the sophisticated Vienna of Mozart's days, the most popular activity for common folk was "surviving", perhaps whistling the odd tune along to it, here and there. Or putting a coin in the organ-grinder-machine that guaranteed an "original, different tune" every week. One week it was Mozart who had contributed the music; doubtlessly to help ends meet during his financially destitute times.
It is not unreasonable, however, to expect that some of the "Classical" repertoire to be part of the modern invention that is "Pop-Culture" (it's helpful to remind oneself that "Pop" really just means 'popular', i.e. mainstream). Since PBS and Pubic Radio stations have largely given up on their mission to further the broad popularity of classical music by bringing it to consumers that would otherwise not happen upon it, it is all the more encouraging when commercial TV dips its toes into that realm. None are helped, however, if Jay Leno puts on Yo-Yo Ma and Mr. Williams to play a (absolutely awful, inept) Williams-composed Cello Sonata on the show. The people applaud wildly in admiration of the fame that is associated with both performers' names, but were probably as disinclined to seek out any classical music as I was, hearing and seeing that trashy little thing on TV.
Whether it is feeding classical music to kids or those that know little about it, giving them anything but the very highest quality is a useless thing to do, if not even a crime against music. They may not 'know' it is bad music or a bad performance (that is: they would not have the courage to say so, outright... or feel 'inadequate' to judge it as such), but they hear the same things we do and rightfully feel uninvolved.
Tomorrow, David Letterman is doing something very different. Not only is Juan Diego Florez and the cast from the new production of The Barber of Seville appearing on his show, but he is going to have them perform the Act 1 finale in costume - and with the (downsized) MET orchestra. Just a snippet, to be sure, but just the right kind of music and quality performance (one hopes) to whet the audience's appetites.
To quote a friend quoting a friend: "Holy Cow!"
CBS-TV's "Late Show with David Letterman" will present five opera stars in the stirring Act I finale from the Met's new production of Rossini's comic masterpiece Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) on Wednesday, November 8 at 11:35 PM/ET. The "Late Show" appearance provides an enticing first glimpse of the Met's highly anticipated production directed by Bartlett Sher, which premieres on Friday, November 10.UPDATE:
Famed tenor Juan Diego Flórez, soprano Diana Damrau, and baritone Peter Mattei will join Samuel Ramey and John Del Carlo, a chorus of 12, and 22 members of the Met Orchestra to perform the scene, conducted by Maurizio Benini. The performance will be one of the largest musical productions ever presented on the show, and the first time Letterman has presented a full scene from an opera. The Met Orchestra and Chorus have been reduced in size by half to accommodate the "Late Show" stage.
Maury d'Annato has some thoughts about the Letterman event, few of them positive. Also not to be missed, his subliminal message to the Met to bring back Barber's Vanessa. All I have to say about that is, from your lips to God's ears: love that opera. [My Favorite Intermissions] -- Ed.