02/05/2007

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 02.05.2007

Wolfgang Schreiber was at Vincent Paterson's staging of Jules Massenet's opera "Manon", which premiered on Sunday under Daniel Barenboim's "fiery" conducting at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. He was particularly struck by the "dream pair of German-American operatic pop culture," Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon. "This performance only confirms what we see everywhere: classical music is becoming a popular phenomenon. The classical music culture is capitulating to pop, sometimes covertly, sometimes overtly, shoulder to shoulder. Because pop means glamour, sex, business, advertisements. Pop is fundamental for media attention and viewing rates, although not necessarily for art. During the prelude... the golden curtain - which would be perfect in any music-hall - opens and shows Anna Netrebko like an attractive decoy, touching up her make up in front of a mirror. The message is clear: image is everything. Physical beauty and a perfectly cultivated appearance have long been mandatory for the opera diva."


Die Welt 02.05.2007

Manuel Brug was also at Sunday's "Manon" premiere at Berlin's Staatsoper, and reflects on how soprano Anna Netrebko is closer to the character of Manon than one might think: "La Netrebko - soprano diva and sex goddess. The obsessively reproduced images from the production reduce the racy Russian to a set of cliches.... Anna with her legs spread in front of Rolando, Anna wearing lingerie in a pillow fight, a blond Anna posing and offering her laced cleavage to the audience, Anna astride a table with her slip high up around her thighs. These gaudy snapshots will be what remains of this Los Angeles-based production, once everyone has stopped talking about how breathtakingly softly Netrebko sings, her fine nuances and subtle yet dynamic character portrayal. Anna and the fallen maiden Manon, both public women."

California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger admits that it's quite difficult to persuade his party colleague Bush to do something about the environment. So he's decided to concentrate on industry. "An example: Tesla Motors has made a hundred percent electric car with a range of 400 kilometers. It can reach 225 km/h and accelerates from zero to a hundred in four seconds. It would leave every Porsche in the dust. Efficient cars are often efficient in design as well. They just look special. They're not the kind of cars that the terminator would drive. Lots of people like me want a sexy sports car with a gearshift lever. But we want to be green as well." Up until now, he's been driving a Hummer on hydrogen.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02.05.2007

Hubert Spiegel interviews writer Orhan Pamuk at the outset of his reading tour in Germany. Pamuk speaks of the most recent demonstrations in Turkey. "I'm very happy that those who believe in a secular Turkey have been so vocal, and also that so many women are defending laicism and secularism and demonstrating for their right to wear whatever they like whatever they want." But, "we can't defend secular Turkey alone - without democracy and human rights. It would be a mistake to hope that the secularism of the army is going to protect us."


Frankfurter Rundschau 02.05.2007

Arno Widmann is still slightly breathless after a concert given by Beyonce in Frankfurt. "You see how the audience exhales with the singer but has to draw breath long before she does. She turns us into accomplices, far inferior of course. While Beyonce doesn't ever come down from the endlessly broadening tone of the Arabic song, the huge screens to the left and right of the ceiling all show close-ups of her heaving, singing breasts."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 02.05.2007

In the series "What is a good religion?" German philosopher Michael Theunissen sketches the shortcomings of Christianity: "The Christian religion is wrapped in mystery. In countries that pass as Christian there is more complacency about things Christian than for example among Muslims toward Islam. In addition, with Christianity there's a particularly radical discrepancy between the religion itself and how it's practised. Its appointed servants are often content to follow suit with what's generally perceived as good, and for example preach freedom without a single word about what peace means to Christians in particular. No wonder that for many people their religion has degenerated into convention, despite weekly visits to the Church. That all follows from the very nature of this religion."

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