Fun With Academic Calendars

Well, this week we played another round of that funnest of games, EarwormOpera is an Idiot. You see, there’s this, uh, musical event on Wednesday, January 23 in New York that I would really like to go to. I even have tickets! So, I was all psyched.

This is where the idiot part comes in. You know how I am a historian? Well, historians are supposed to be good with dates. We are supposed to be wicked good with dates. I am in general very good with dates. I remember them easily. They have, I don’t know, different flavors or feels or something that makes the concept of, say, 1598, qualitatively different from 1648 or 1702 or 1820. But anyway. I managed to misread a rather crucial date, in this instance: the date that spring term beings. It’s not Wednesday the 23rd. It’s Tuesday the 22nd. Which means that my first classes meet on Tuesday. I have two, a lecture class and a seminar, which I thought was on Thursday but as it turns out is on Tuesdays. (I am going to be spending most of January near New York to begin with, so I had had this little plan to be in New York, go to the concert, then fly home early Thursday morning and miss my first morning lecture class but make the first meeting of the afternoon seminar.)

When I first made this momentous discovery about when the term actually begins, I assumed that this meant I’d have to forego the concert, as missing two days of class is out of the question. I was a very sad little earworm for about twenty minutes, and I was reconciling myself to disappointment, until the obvious occurred to me. It is more traveling in a shorter amount of time than I am accustomed to doing, but I can come home from New York in time for the first day of classes on Tuesday, fly back to New York on Wednesday morning, see the concert, and come back on Thursday, thus missing only one class – specifically, the second meeting of the lecture class, which is in some ways better than the first. I will have a TA for that class, and I think that if I ask nicely and buy him/her lunch or dinner, the TA will be willing to either give them my lecture or write his or her own. Or, alternately, we can just have a little holiday the second day, because nothing ever gets done the first week of the term anyway because the students are all adding and dropping courses like little rabbits on meth.

I am aware that this is a slightly insane sort of plan, and something is bound to wreck it – a snowstorm, perhaps – but it seems to me that if I actually pull off this caper, it will be worth it. And I will very likely beat my previous personal best as far as “how often can I get airsick in the space of about four days” is concerned.

And it turns out I’m going to hear the Met’s Maria Stuarda in January. . . twice. I know two different people who wanted to go, but they wanted to go on different days, so I’m going twice. I think that this may end up being overkill. I mean, Mozart twice, or Strauss twice, or Bach or Handel or Haydn or Verdi twice, no problem. But I am not yet won over to the cause of Donizetti twice. However. Given that I live in a lovely little university town in the middle of utterly and absolutely nowhere (the drive to my house looks like the set for Guth’s Don Giovanni except minus the bus stop, because around here public transit is regarded as a socialist conspiracy) I think I’m allowed to go a little wild when I get out of town. Right?

21 thoughts on “Fun With Academic Calendars

    1. Yes.

      Re dates: just one of those weird professional skills one develops – I suspect my work colleagues have all kinds of different ways of visualizing the past or organizing how they think about it.


      1. It is interesting. I think I think like that about dates too and it effects how I see opera productions. I suspect some directors switch time period for purely aesthetic reasons and it doesn’t bother them that much of the plot becomes nonsensical because it’s all in the past anyway and that’s how they did things “in the past”. It bugs the heck out of me. A prime culprit is the Met Lucia which appears to be set in the mid 19th century (and relocated from Lothian to the Highlands for no apparent reason). The plot just makes no sense; feuding noble families, political exile, threats of execution if a suitable political marriage can’t be made… in Victorian Scotland. Facepalm!


        1. I think that version of Lucia would bug me too! I’m all for anachronism, but it needs to be thoughtful anachronism: one time-period is not the same as another. Perhaps a lot of directors either 1. don’t have enough of a sense for history to notice when they’ve done something that undercuts the work because it makes no sense and doesn’t add anything interesting interpretively or 2. bank on the audience not knowing or caring.


          1. I’m all for creative anachronism too. I’ve seen some really good examples. David McVicar’s Julius Caesar for example. In the straight theatre I once saw a very effective Henry V set during the Falklands War (and staged not so many years after it).


            1. I really like that Julius Caesar too – changing the time period definitely works in that case. Probably brings out the themes of empire and power and all that at least as effectively – perhaps more so – than a production staged during the actual Roman empire.


              1. I tend to think that production of Lucia is meant to be more about gender, power and mental illness than the geopolitical realities of Sir Walter Scott World. Plus it has the whole gothic thing going on. So in the question of decontextualizing and/or recontextualizing the story, it’s not unlike the Chereau Ring in intent. Or so it seems to me. Then if the question is how and why one uses the Victorian period to manifest those particular issues, welp, there’s a ballgame.

                All which is to say I don’t think that it was thoughtless anachronism.


  1. I’m glad you don’t get all obsessive or anything about going to see J.D. in concert and opera. I am also glad you worked it out. It sounds like you’ll be racking up the frequent flyer miles.

    Also, isn’t that Lucia on DVD?


        1. The (2nd) Dessay one is up on Met Opera On Demand, should you wish to make a comparison. I liked her better, partly because I’m not fond of Netrebko in bel canto but mostly because she seemed not terribly focused on the task at hand. Would like to see all of 1st Dessay, Opening Night 2007, which was only hdcast in Lincoln Center Plaza and Times Square. Bits of it were up on youtube for awhile. But think that one, in terms of the production, would be the likeliest to be unadulterated by later criticism. Maybe someday.


    1. Nah, not obsessive or anything at all 🙂

      I’m seeing Maria Stuarda mainly for JDD, but the concert on the 23rd is Röschmann giving a Lieder recital at Carnegie hall – one of those things that happens so seldom that I’m unwilling to miss it.


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