Missing the place

Not San Marco, for a change.


Get this.

A think tank — no less — has asked your reporter to speak.

Unbelievable. It’s like asking the sun to rise or a baby to pee in its clothes. One does not ask me to speak.  One asks me to please be silent.

What is worse:  having acquainted myself with the topic of the conference, I cannot see how I could do anything but speak

in such a manner as will displease them.

Which can’t help but seem ungrateful.

Towards this purpose yours truly has been reading on opera and has found, here, a book which took fifteen years to research and write, a fantastic book, which, instead of proposing high-felutin’ but incomprehensible theories of aulic sponsorship and courtly-versus-popular — er? —  a pretty easy thing to do, if you think about it, read three books (of which one is Hegel and the other two a French and an American pomo person respectively) and on their basis write a fourth one, totally original — instead of that, say, this book does things like count tickets sold, days on play-bill, tax records and other dull whatnots.  (Accountants say:  “if you want to know what happened, follow the money”).

The book’s principal finding is that… the business has never made any money.


Of course, modern film is like this, too.  Sure, the studios make money — on distribution; actors do — as wages; and even producers generally make a living.  But investors — each film is a separate business venture financed by all sorts of — it turns out wide-eyed naives hoping to “get into the business”, gratified to rub their shoulders with the stars, etc. — well, investors are regularly taken to the cleaners.  For big sums, too.  In Venetian opera, ticket sales normally covered barely one half of the expense of the production.  Regularly.  Year in, year out.  Investors ended up losing huge sums — 2,000 ducats, 4,000 ducats each season — well north of 500K of today’s money — each.  Yet, what one sees is the same guys taking a beating and then — coming back the next season for more.  Like a dog to its vomit.  Or a gambler to his one-armed bandit.  Sure, they were rich, but the sums they lost were not insignificant sums.  They write to the impresarios complaining of their cashflow problems:  wheat prices are down, crops have failed, rents have not come in yet.  In some cases, mothers have to step in and put an end to the nonsense.