(Note: This post has been updated (3) as of 2:01 AM Eastern on 31 Dec. See below.)
Here's the lede graf of New York Times chief music critic Anthony Tommasini's review of this season's Met production of Alban Berg's masterpiece, Wozzeck:
If James Levine could zap himself back in time and conduct the premiere of any opera in history, what among his favorites might he choose? Perhaps the Vienna premiere of Mozart's "Nozze di Figaro." Or the Milan premiere of Verdi's "Otello." How about the Munich premiere of Wagner's "Meistersinger," a work he conducts magnificently? I love the idea of Mr. Levine's giving a sublime account of this humane comedy and forcing the anti-Semitic composer to confront his twisted prejudices.
That the unquestionably anti-Semitic Wagner harbored twisted prejudices is certainly inarguable. But apart from that, if anyone can make coherent sense of that closing sentence so that it in any meaningful and legitimate way can be shown to make sense, and what it attempts to say comport with reality, the real world, and the facts, I'll pay for that person's dinner at the finest restaurant in New York City.
Yes, that's right. Tommasini The Clueless and Incompetent strikes again, and we're only too pleased to (again) make note of it.
(To be perfectly fair, we should also make note that the balance of that review is cogently expressed, and seems well-informed. But then, it should further be noted, we know neither Wozzeck nor Berg's oeuvre nearly well enough to proffer an informed opinion on that.)
Update (5:33 PM Eastern on 29 Dec): Blogger Alex of Wellsung has something to say about this, as does New Yorker music critic Alex Ross in the comments section of Alex Wellsung's post (which comments section needs to be read). I also contributed a comment to that comments section commenting on Alex Ross's comment which Alex Ross chose to snub by not even acknowledging although he responded to the other comments. I also informed Alex Wellsung of his error, re, Hans von Bülow's Jewishness as did Alex Ross, but my correction (made at almost the precise same minute as Alex Ross's correction, of which correction I was ignorant, but unacknowledged publicly by Alex Wellsung) was made discreetly via eMail rather than in the comments section of Alex Wellsung's post.
Update (10:01 PM Eastern on 29 Dec): Things are heating up (in a good sense) in the comments section over at Wellsung concerning this business. Be sure to click over and read all the goodies. Also, Alex Ross sets me straight in that comments section concerning his putative snub of my comment made note of in the previous update. Just a mere problem of posting circumstance, and no snub delivered or intended. I'm gratified to hear it.
Update (2:01 AM Eastern on 31 Dec): A reader eMails me the following:
I have just read your comment in the comment section over at Wellsung where you say that you would never think of nailing a critic for (and I quote) "mere errors of fact, mere typos or mere slips of the pen", but would only nail a critic who commits errors (and I again quote) "of the sort that betray an appalling ignorance of the subject to hand", yet in your post [i.e., the above post] you nailed Tom[m]asini for commiting [sic] nothing more than a muddled sentence. How do you square that with the statements you made in that comment in the comments section at Wellsung?
The answer is that I didn't nail Mr. Tommasini for his muddled sentence, but for what he meant to say by that sentence. Once one disentangles the muddle, one sees immediately that Mr. Tommasini could have meant to say only one of two things, both of which betray an appalling ignorance of the subject to hand. After only a moment's thought, one rejects the idea Mr. Tommasini could have been making reference to the loony anti-Semitic "coding" theory so beloved of PC academics as one quickly realizes that the idea suggests itself due solely the sentence's muddled syntax. One is then driven ineluctably to the conclusion that what Mr. Tommasini actually meant to say is that James Levine, a Jew, by "giving a sublime account of this humane comedy [i.e., Die Meistersinger]," would force the anti-Semitic Wagner "to confront his twisted prejudices [i.e., his anti-Semitism]." Anyone with but a fairly superficial knowledge of Wagner and his works would have known instantly just how ignorant, even absurd, a notion that is even within the fanciful time-travel scenario set up by Mr. Tommasini because such a person would have known that Wagner not only included Jews within his intimate inner circle, but entrusted the premier (at the Bayreuth Festival, no less!) of his most cherished work his so-called "Christian opera," Parsifal to one of them: conductor Hermann Levi; not merely a practicing Jew, but the son of a rabbi. (And according to the best authority that's come down to us, Levi gave what might be called "a sublime account" of the work.)
Do you now understand just how that sentence, muddled or not, betrayed New York Times chief music critic Anthony Tommasini's appalling ignorance of the subject to hand?