Monday, February 20, 2006

Small Town Life

A small town by any other name is still a small town.

This and this , in the Denver Post, are about the town of Bennett, Colorado's fight with the devil. A few weeks ago a music teacher, Tresa Waggoner, at the Bennett Elementary School showed her students a video tape she found in the school music room called "Who's afraid of Opera?: Introduction to the joys of opera for children with Joan Sutherland." Who's afraid? Well, evidently some of the parents of the first, second and third-graders in Ms. Waggoner's classes. They want Ms Waggoner fired because she has proven herself to be a devil worshipper* by showing her students a scene from the opera Faust.

One parent, Korrie Babi** is quoted as saying that her daughter came home from school and asked, "What is abortion? What is suicide?"
Really, her daughter asked about abortion? Interesting, since Faust does not mention abortion. The book 100 Great Operas and their stories by Henry W. Simon describes Faust so:

The legend of Dr. Faustus seems to be the perfect story to attract both dramatists and composers. Marlowe and Goethe wrote great plays on the subject-not to mention some thirty lesser dramatists who wrote lesser plays. Beethoven once composed a Faust Overture. Liszt did a cantata. And Berlioz, Boito, and Goundod all wrote very find Faust operas. Spohr and Busoni wrote less successful ones: and there is even a Faust opera by that "rara avis", a female opera composer- Louise Bertin. Gounod's setting is easily the most popular of all of them- and in many ways the best. It is based, more closely than most critics have been will to admit, on Part I of Goethe's drama and its theme is, of course, that of the old German scientist-philosopher who sells his soul in return for youth.

Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said the video was a "satanic video," and that she thought,"it glorifies Satan in some way, yes."
And this parent, Talena Mullarkey,(Is that really her last name?) very angrily said this about her daughter,"She doesn't know what Satan is...She does now thanks to her music class." (Yeah, I guess that really is her last name.)

Just when I think people can not act more narrow minded and stupid the "good Christians" of Bennett, Colorado prove me wrong. Oh, and the reason Ms. Waggoner showed the tape to her students? Opera Colorado was coming to town with their production of Island of Tulipatan and she wanted to expose her students to the different singing roles before they saw the performance. The town of Bennett has now cancelled that production.

*In an interview on one Denver television station Ms Waggoner said that people were calling her house to ask her if she was the one everyone was calling a devil worshipper.

**Her husband is a member of the Bennett school board.

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