Tuesday, December 14, 2004

An Alienation from Popular Culture Moment

by Tom Bozzo

At the gym, with limited choices for reading material, I picked up the November 22, 2004, Newsweek. In the arts-and-leisure material at the back, there is a story by David Gates, "Duet of the Divas."

The "divas"?

Renée Fleming and...

...Clay Aiken.

Urge to scream suppressed, barely. Upon reflection, I'm sure that Clay Aiken's name recognition would poll vastly higher than Fleming's with the general public. Still, are there really people who will buy a book about his rise to manufactured celebrity? Didn't he, like, not even win??!

Oy, the NYT nonfiction chart puts the Aiken book at #4, though not with a bullet — it was #2 last week, its first week on the charts.

On the plus side, Fleming's book is covered in two short articles in the November Opera News!

Also, I might have to take a look at The King and I: The Uncensored Tale of Luciano Pavarotti's Rise to Fame by HisManager, Friend and Sometime Adversary, by Herbert Breslin and Anne Midgette.

An excerpt in the October Opera News amusingly describes the trajectory of the "Three Tenors" concept from birth through massive overexposure, spin- and rip-offs. The short version is that for the original 1990 World Cup concert, the tenors were offered what amounted to all the money in the classical music world, and failed to secure a percentage of the subsequent gargantuan take. When the '94 reprise came around, nobody was going to make that mistake again.
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