About a year ago, I attended an opera with a few friends. It was a mixed group of people. Half the group, I would consider to be opera veterans. People made up of former opera singers, or people who had simply been around the scene long enough to reference opera with precision. And in the other half, where the first-timers. People who had never been to an opera before. They were probably terrified that the next 3 hours would consist of them sitting uncomfortably still, while they desperately waited for sleep or the show to end.
2 hours and 50 minutes later…
When we made our way out of the theater, I was happy to see that not only did the new opera goers not die of cultural exposure, but they were excited about what they had just seen! They were moved and eager to learn more about what opera had to offer. At the same time, the veterans looked disappointed. Commenting on what they felt the show “lacked”, or why this or that “just didn’t work”. As the conversation continued, it seemed as if the veterans were somehow trying to explain that, contrary to our own thoughts and beliefs, what we had all actually just experienced was, in fact, an okay/bad show.
I’ve always considered the purpose of art to be the stimulation of either an emotional or intellectual response. Therefore, should the fact that the art moved group A, but not group B, somehow lessen our perception of the content’s worth? Time and study can grant any musical veteran the ability to recognize layers and depth. At the same time, is it possible that skill and experience can cloud, not only our perception, but our ability to recognize something that is simple and good?