rally.rnDemocrats, for the zillionth timernsince Woodrow Wilson, are entanglingrnus in military involvements that MiddlernAmerica does not want. But there is nornLa Follette, no Borah, no Robert Taft tornrepresent what Sinclair Lewis called thernMind Your Own Business Party. ThernGOP leadership, which for 12 years rubber-rnstamped the Rathole Patrol’s adventuresrnin Grenada, Kuwait, Panama,rnNicaragua, and other exotic places of nornconceivable interest to any normalrnAmerican, is scarcely in a position to criticizernBill Clinton for his expansive definitionrnof our vital interests. A RepublicanrnParty that dishonors its eldersrn(excepting the Bel Air Gold War liberalrnwho bankrupted our country), that ignoresrnthe wise counsel of older patriots,rnthat is led by a cadre of imperialists andrnhustlers and belligerent draft-dodgers,rndeserves its current low state. VenerablernRepublicans who still place AmericarnFirst have more in common with thernCongressional Black Caucus than withrnthe America Last gang of Kemp andrnBennett and Cheney.rnIn the aftermath of Mr. Wilson’s warrnto end all wars, Republican Senator HiramrnJohnson said he feared that internationalismrnwould kill what he called “therncreed of my manhood”: “Americanrnideals, American principles, and Americanrnpatriotism.” Mr. Clinton’s meddlingrnin the Balkans, Africa, and the Garribeanrnwill have the same casualties, onlyrnwe have no Hiram Johnson to mournrnthe dead. We have no Republican Partyrnto speak for Main Street. We are blessed,rnhowever, with a remnant of extraordinaryrnmen who remember what Americarnused to be, because they built it, theyrngrew it, they wrote it, and for them, atrnleast, it will never die.rn—Bill KauffmanrnT H E OBSCENE production ofrnMozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro perpetratedrnon a national audience by “director” PeterrnSellars and his ensemble troupe inrn1991 still bothers me, not least becausernthe abomination has just recently beenrnreleased on laser disc. More to the point,rnI am still trying to reconcile the expenditurernof both federal funds and donors’rnhard-earned dollars by the Public BroadcastingrnSystem (PBS), which apparentlyrnthought that updating Mozart throughrnthe eyes of a pervert was an excellentrnway to kick off the composer’s bicentennial.rnThose familiar with my reviews inrnOpera News between 1978 and 1989 willrnknow that I am not a champion ofrnbizarre productions. In fact, there arernthose who thought (and continue tornthink) that I am some sort of right-wingrnreactionary opposed to any creative ideasrnin opera production. This is not true. Irnhave taken every opportunity to applaudrnthose productions I considered to be trulyrnimaginative, such as the 1986 SalzburgrnLIBERAL ARTSrnAVl'(-C:[1RlS’nA AM’l-AVn-SEMll ISMrnA liliii a)iihmioii.sl slumiiis^ at I lie new IJnilccl SUitc. I loiocjuist Icmiiri;il Mu’.CLiiiirnhas lii’i-ii cliarm’t! willi violaliii}; Ihc CIOII.SIIILIIIOTI hy Wjstjiiisjioii iiuiuslfr and hroadcasferrnDulc (Jrowlcy, )j. f.rcwlev ar^^lt•^ lliat HK’ fiiliie film, ciitilk-d ‘•Aiiti-Si-initi.sin.”rnis anti-CliiislLiii and thus vidlaks the First .VneiKliricnl hv proiiiotmi;, at taxp,’ii:i(r<-rn])i:nsc. one rclis^ion (jiuiaisin) over another (‘CJliristianit). I Ic ixjiiits to the film’s .is-rn.seilions that liiiou^lunit historv “CJhristian.s persceulicl Jews” and thut Matthew.rnMark. Luke, and John faUitied tiic .story ol the crucifixion of )esii.s in the (lospt-ls. asrnwell as to the film’s f.iilnro to aeknowlwlgi; an (.Christian compassion or kiiulticss towardrnJews.rn•• I he mii.senni is located on propelt} donated hv U.S. eiti/ens, .iiid is maintainedrnat public expense by .lels ot (‘onjjre.ss,” explained Ciowlc. “So it is .sinipiv not rit;hlrnthat American taxpaveis should he lorecd to snbsidi/.e this kind of religious intoleraiicf,rnbi£;oti. and diseriinmation against C’hristians” faitli.” Aeeoidiiig to ivjxirts lastrnsninmei, all T’?5 nicmber.s of Coiieiess have rceeied a letter trom (“rovvlev iir£;in<;rntlieiu to siippoit a resolution to eliminate the film fiom the mii.SLUurs programrnDon Gi ovanni, in which computerenhancedrngraphics were used to have thernCommendatore’s statue drag the Donrninto a void of nothingness, or the 1989rnSan Francisco L’Africaine, in whichrnlarger-than-life sets and props enhancedrnMeyerbeer’s fantastic setting of the sagarnof Vasco da Gama. Imagination I canrntake; sheer perversion, for the sake of angeringrnviewers into taking notice of it, Irnconsider unconscionable.rnFor those who did not see it, Sellarsrnupdated the Beaumarchais play to thernpresent and set it in a condominium inrnthe Trump Tower. Figaro and Susannarnwere given the laundry room in which tornset their wedded bliss: a Tide box andrnSnuggle fabric softener bottle were apparentrnin the background. Susanna emphasizedrnthe fact that Count Almavivarnhad tried to enjoy her favors by cuppingrnher breasts, while the English “translation”rnof the Italian text referred to Almavivarnas a “dirty old lech.” WhenrnFigaro sang Se vuol ballare, the wordsrnwere translated as “If you wanna dance /rnCount baby / I’ll play back-up guitar.”rnGherubino, dressed as a New York streetrnpunk (complete with rat-tail haircut),rnbounced on the bed in simulated masturbationrnwhile singing Nori so piu. Laterrnin the performance, Marzellina camernscreaming across the stage that she hadrnloaned Figaro “2,000 bucks,” and whenrnthe Count made his assignation with Susannarnshe trembled in disgust againstrnthe wall while he put his hand and hisrnhead up her dress.rnAs if to emphasize the “ensemble” effortrnof the cast, all of the voices soundedrnalike, thin, brittle, slightly throaty,rnpunching out the lyrics rather than pursuingrna curvilinear musical line whenrncalled for. The baritones—Figaro, Almaviva,rnand Bartolo—could have beenrninterchangeable; so too could the Countessrnand Susanna. No individuality ofrnstyle or interpretation was allowed. Allrnwas to be conveyed by the physical contortionsrnon stage, such as Figaro’s forwardrnrolls in the opening duet with Susannarnor Don Basilio’s arm-waving andrnspinning in circles during his aria. Thernmajority of these singers, in my opinion,rndo not deserve to be mentioned, but Irnwas astonished and sickened to see FrankrnKelley, a decade ago one of the mostrnpromising light lyric tenors to ever graduaternfrom the Cincinnati Conservatoryrnof Music, and a former member of JoelrnCohen’s Boston Gamerata, distorting hisrnstill-beautiful voice by following Sellars’rn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn