One of the social media platforms repeatedly asks visitors, “What’s on your mind?” Well, that’s the question that came to my mind today, when we were at the opera in New York last night.
There are two reasons for asking this question. One of my reasons, like a few weeks ago, I wrote, “I boast I was in the theater,” and the other reason is because we watched a Russian opera. For both reasons, questions arise that can be answered differently depending on the worldview.
There are often criticisms of Hungary – primarily political – about how I look at and comment on events through the glasses of the right, left, republican, or Democrat when I report on the United States. That’s how I also got the criticism for bragging that I have a picture of writing about being in the theater during these difficult times.
During challenging times, there are those who think about the war situation, there are those who think about the domestic political situation in Hungary. Under these circumstances, the “don’t brag” critique arises. Now I’ve been to the Opera, not anywhere, but to the New York Opera. That’s bragging, they say.
I would like to add that we watched a Russian opera, Tchaikovsky’s work, Eugene Onegin, made from Pushkin. And last week we were at a Russian restaurant. Well, this is still oil on fire in Hungary today. When Russian goods are boycotted in much of the world, it is that I eat in a Russian restaurant and watch a Russian opera.
By definition, a boycott is “the rejection of something in a coordinated manner, usually to express disapproval or to force certain conditions.”
I would like to quote the management of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York to show what they think about it. PLAYBILL, a booklet for theaters in New York, gave the Metropolitan the following answer to the question: With this performance and the entire spring season, Met wants to honor Ukraine, its citizens, and the many lives lost.
If one, with today’s thinking, wants to understand the work with a twenty-first-century head, one must see clearly that the original Pushkin novel, and thus the opera, sheds light on the situation of Russian society. We see both the gentry world of rural life and the gleaming aristocracy of St. Petersburg. Met’s production puts the performance at the end of the 19th century. And although the novel and the opera are not set in our day, many of his thoughts are eternal.
According to Belinsky, a contemporary critic of the birth of the Puskin novel, man is born of nature but is educated and shaped by society, and there is no escape from society. According to Belinsky, the concept of nationality, national consciousness, means that the writer can understand and display the individual way of thinking characteristic of the nation. Belinsky claims that this is exactly what Pushkin achieved in Eugene Onegin, making it an “encyclopedia of Russian life.”
I understand and accept that “do not buy Russian goods” campaigns will be announced for goods from Russia so that a country that attacks another can also be weakened. However, I think Russian music, literature, and art are an inalienable part of world culture. So Russian culture cannot be boycotted. Tchaikovsky, Pushkin, cannot be ignored because he is Russian.
That was on my mind today.
My photo report about the MET Opera in New York is available.