Blaming Beaudry

To the Editor,

Concerning the CAP water problem: We as Tucson residents need to realize that groundwater will not last forever -- we have placed a time limit on this supply, due to growth and waste. It's time that Tucson started using water sources, other than groundwater, either by mixing CAP or other alternative sources. The Beaudry Motor Company has one thing in mind -- fresh, clean, perfect groundwater for his needs -- but when he's six feet under and groundwater depletes, do you think Beaudry will care then? He got what he wanted. Did you get what you wanted? How about our kids?

If Tucson is going to survive, other sources will need to be found other than 100 percent groundwater. Regardless of what all these huge groundwater drawings show, we will run out of groundwater, if no other source is used, and we can all be thankful to Beaudry, who got his pristine, perfect water, while we as Tucsonans listened to his high-dollar garble and got screwed.

I doubt that you will print this -- as Beaudry must have some interest in the Tucson Weekly, due to the extremity of these water advertisements.

-- Jim McCord

False Note

To the Editor,

Who is this James Reel person and why has he been allowed to say so many stupid, untrue things? I've just read the article "Grand New Opera" (September 30) and am bitterly disappointed that such an outrageously ill-equipped writer was assigned to this story. Considering that opera gets only a very small amount of media coverage during any given season, it's particularly galling that so much of the meager yearly allotment has been wasted on such a hack job.

Beyond the merely technical ineptitudes (e.g., Turandot didn't premiere until 1926, Wozzek should contain an "e") that could be remedied with a quick look into any standard dictionary of opera, there are some serious problems with Reel's understanding of opera and his entire approach to music criticism.

First off, what's with all the Glynn Ross bashing? The man had solid credentials when he was invited to head this company. He worked very hard at his post for over a decade, and accomplished quite a lot during his tenure. I dare say, if Reel failed to learn anything about opera in all that time, the fault is not Mr. Ross'.

Now, don't get me wrong; the Ross era was far from ideal, and in the nine years I've been attending the Arizona Opera he certainly managed to unload his fair share of tired old war-horses, shitty singers and half-assed stagings. However, it would be thoroughly dishonest of us not to mention that he also presented a good number of fine performances, several non-standard repertory items (e.g., Donna del Lago, Lakmé), and many excellent singers, including the occasional "star" (Beverly Hoch, Jerome Hines).

By the same token, I'm sure Mr. Speers is a fine administrator and will do good things for opera in Arizona, but to have us believe, as Reel seems so eager to impress on us, that he's some kind of operatic Midas is simply asking too much. Although I haven't yet had the opportunity to meet Speers, I'm fairly certain he's as human as Glynn Ross was, and it should be noted that his first season was also a pretty mixed bag artistically -- a ludicrously staged, poorly sung Lucia; an Aida with magnificent sets but bizarre costumes; a strikingly staged, vigorously sung Chenier. However, it's still too soon to make any long-term judgments, and we'll see whether some of the rougher artistic edges get ironed out this year, though I'm not quite sure how 10-foot courtiers are going to ensure us a better Turandot.

As I read through the article, it quickly became apparent that Reel doesn't actually have any genuine insights on opera at all. I got the disheartening impression that his critical method consists largely of passing on half-digested commonplaces, whether true or not, and manufacturing arbitrary dichotomies. It seems his only means of praising something is by backhanding something else. Ross equals bad, Speers equals good; 1925 equals bad, 1999 eqauls good. How seriously can one take a critic who dismisses Trovatore as "ubiquitous" while simultaneously hailing this season's inclusion of the all-too-familiar Figaro? (Out of curiosity, I checked the September issue of Opera News and found that only seven opera houses have planned productions of Trovatore this season, in contrast to 26 listings of Figaro. Care to make another wild stab, James?)

In the end, then, perhaps it's significant that so much of the article was given over to discussions of monetary matters: spending, budgets, fundraising, etc. To be sure, these are all very important issues in the daily business of keeping a company afloat, but I don't believe the saving of a nickel, however artfully achieved, is really the reason Arizonans attend the opera. ("Oh Martha, look! I bet they rented those wigs for at least $7.32 a piece!") Really, James, you had the general director of the Arizona Opera in front of you and all you could talk about was money? Or is that all you came away with when the interview was over?

I could go on, but enough is definitely enough. I just hope that next time -- however dark and distant that day may be -- opera will finally get the serious coverage it deserves.

-- David Melton

Bird Call

To the Editor,

Your staff choice of Ramsey Canyon in the Best of Tucson issue (September 23) as the best place for bird watching is mighty peculiar. The preserve has been closed for nearly a year and won't reopen until at least December. And, although they aren't as well known, there are at least two places in Arizona that are better for seeing hummingbirds. One of these, the home of Jesse Hendrix in Nogales, has been on the TV news and in the daily fishwrap several times in the past month. Ramsey is a dud choice!

And by the way, there is no such thing as a "longbilled" hummingbird in the U.S. The only one with "billed" in its name is the broad billed.

-- Conrad Vest