A week in review. Most of the mining work I did was for a project that I dare not write about. I read hundreds of documents about a project that failed. And I tried to formulate the reasons why it failed. But, as I said, I dare not write about it.
Instead I will write about an opera that I watched last night. And compare that opera to tonight’s opera, Cosi Fan Tutti by Mozart, and the Wednesday’s Bard on the Beach Henry VI and the Friday’s Richard III. Obviously the Shakespeare plays as done by the Vancouver Bard on the Beach were superb: chilling in their depiction of human depravity and soaring in their poetry; all the while contrasted with good intentions, at least for the Y chromosome.
On which topic, I finished reading Adam’s Curse by Bryan Sykes that explores the topic of the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA in human nature and history. The book is as good an explanation of the events in the Shakespeare histories as any. At the least, you will understand why Richard III murdered so many of his family only to seek to breed with the Queen’s daughter.
Then there are Mozart’s operas. Cosi is the only opera he wrote that I watch again and again. I have four or five versions on DVD. All different in production, but all thrilling in their depiction of human weakness and folly, all the while attended by good intentions. Mozart’s other operas are too sad to be funny; too tragic to be entertaining; to human to be indulged in.
Hence to the opera that epitomizes the mining project that I may not write about. Donizetti is one of my favorite opera composers. He, Bellini and Rossini were the high point of bel canto opera. That was a style of rock-opera in modern terms: fast, loud, full of rhythm and outrageous stories. I know every word and note of Bellini’s nine operas; I have watched as many of Rossini’s operas as there are DVDs; Donizetti produced more operas than there are DVDs. Yet his best operas are superb. (If only I could get a DVD of Maria Padilla!)
Donizetti was a master composer of popular rock-opera. Yet the one I watched last night on a new DVD is a disaster while being a masterpiece. The opera is called Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali [viva la mamma]. The music is superb; close your eyes and let the melodies take you over the top. Yet the story is trash. The result of the efforts of a master come to naught.
Here we see in this opera an all-too-common phenomenon. Here we see a project undertaken by a master of skill, devotion, ability, energy, and genius. Yet something goes wrong. The master, the person of proactive energy & ability, produces trash. Here we see the all-too-often: a person of dedication and ability leads others of vacillation and pusillanimousness to act, but ultimately they act to no purpose. Or they act to the wrong end; they get it all wrong; they fail to apply logic and reason and the result is exquisite trash. Close your eyes and all is well. Open you eyes and the result is disaster.
Once in the high hills of Santa Fe, I attended a course on Leadership. The key lesson we left with was this: a team of ordinary people can succeed if they communicate and co-operate. The team can fail if they allow a strong-willed leader to take them down the wrong path. In the opera, which I refer to for short as Le convenienze, we see a strong-willed mother (hence the viva la mamma) take an impressario to disaster as she demands arias for her unskilled daughter.
If this all gets too complicated for you, then watch the opera. Or take refuge in the simple fact that you too must have seen that strong-will leader take the project to failure. You knew and others knew the leader was taking you to failure. But what could you do? Like Donizetti and the guys who put on his opera Le convenienze, we all watch in fascination as things just go in the wrong direction.
Now let me confess. The mining project I may not write of, did everything that was common at the time. They achieved the objectives the strong leader set. There were a few of us who said and wrote that what they did was wrong. But we were in the minority. Our voices were ignored. However, the passage of time has proven us correct.
We cannot gloat. We can but grieve that we were not heard and that it has come to this. Like opera, there is great music, sometimes great stories. Like Shakespeare there is great poetry and great stories. Like both opera and drama, there are histories, tragedies, comedies, and the never-ending story of human nature, folly, and failure.
Or contemplate and compare Mozart’s La Clemenze di Tito (trashy adulation of the powerful) and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (the pornography of the rulers.)