08. September 2007 · Comments Off on Family Second · Categories: Ramble

This was a message to Bryn Terfel:

The deal for any great performer – and your talent puts you in the very front rank – is as tough as it would be for a soldier or politician: just as Gordon Brown abandoned his bucket and spade when foot and mouth broke out, so you have to make your art your priority.

The show goes on though the bombs are falling; the enterprise is bigger than you are. There is no room for sentimentality: you have to be ruthless and put your personal life second. We don’t know the details of your son’s accident, but the boy has a mother and it’s her job to be at the bedside.


Excuse me? Why is it the mother’s job? I didn’t see that in the job description. I think it’s a parent’s job, and having had some situations where a child of ours was in some kind of situation like this it wasn’t necessarily my responsibility to be by the bedside. (But yes, our work situations did determine who would be the care taker. I’ll grant the writer that.)

According to Rupert Christiansen, Terfel cancelled his performances of Siegfried because, sometime in the summer, one of his children had smashed a finger that required surgery. But the writer also hints that he hadn’t learned his part.

I’m sure the opera houses are going to flag Terfel’s name. I’m sure he knows that. Christiansen seems to imply, by sending advice to Terfel, that he’s stupid enough not to understand the consequences of his choice. Right. Musicians are so darn stupid.

Or not.

And I’m not sure what I think about Terfel’s bowing out at such a late time. I don’t know the whole story, and it’s not really my business. But I disagree with the writer. Music is a joy. Music is a wonderful career. But I don’t believe it should take precedence over family. Just because some maladjusted or “heroic” people went on with the show when a mother or father died. Just because some opted not to have a family, left a spouse, or chose to have someone else raise his or her children doesn’t make those choices correct. Or admirable. (Although I do believe opting not to have a family might be wise for some. Of course I’ve seen parents who should have made that choice.)

The writer goes on to say:

For obvious reasons, women find the dilemmas it presents even more agonising than men do – the call of a child’s need is something that every mother is biologically as well as emotionally programmed to answer.

Oh. Really? I must say Dan was equally prone to answer the “call of a child’s need” when our kiddos were home. He was, in fact, more likely to answer at times. Give me a break! Women used to be expected to answer the call of the child before a father did. They were also expected to stay home instead of getting a job.

Okay. I ramble. I guess I just think the guy is off-base in the article, even while knowing that Terfel may have blown it big time in this particular cancelation. Maybe I’m wrong. It can happen.

But when “the bombs are falling” I hope every parent is with his or her family rather than going on with the show.

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