A lot of very talented arts writers are intimidated by the thought of writing about opera. After all, it seems like a secret world, requiring a lot of very specialized knowledge that makes it difficult to speak on authoritatively if one does not have an extensive background in it.
That would seem to make sense, considering that many people are too intimidated to even go to an opera in the first place, even if they love going to the theater, live music and other types of shows.
But should opera really scare us? I thought about this after seeing the new documentary RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The movie spends quite a bit of time exploring Ginsburg’s passion for opera, and since she’s definitely smarter than most of us, one might assume she has some very high-minded, intellectual reason for it. But it turns out to be quite the opposite. She explains that she loves opera because of the escape it provides her after the stress of hearing cases and arguing law all day. It’s the fantasy of it that she longs to lose herself in. And isn’t that what we’re all seeking so often when we want to be entertained?
Christina Waters’ cover story this week reveals that the people behind UCSC’s production of The Magic Flute are relatable, too. They bring the same passion to staging this opera that RBG brings to watching them. And reading about the care that’s been taken to make this a great show for a modern audience really makes me want to see it. If I can get over my fear of opera unworthiness, so can you—let Christina’s story be your guide.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEFd
Letters to the Editor
Let’s Do This
Twenty years, millions of dollars in donations, grants, and voter-approved funds, tireless efforts invested by advocates, all directed toward a common vision of transferring the utility of this rail infrastructure into an asset that will serve our whole community, and transform the daily lives of many who might choose to consciously design their lives around healthy, low-impact modes of transportation. The Rail Trail plan is the fastest path to a countywide, protected bike route. Infrastructure improvements have shown huge increases in bike commuting in other cities. With Santa Cruz kicking off a bike share program this year, bike transit will become even more convenient and this trail should happen ASAP to get us out of our cars!
Why is a small group of folks trying to pull out the tracks? Everybody participating in this conversation is generally aligned around a singular vision to convert this valuable and unleveraged community asset to new uses that will reduce traffic and enrich our daily experience in Santa Cruz. No one involved has the data or foresight to accurately predict future needs or rapidly evolving transportation alternatives. The Rail Trail is a well-thought-out and fully funded plan that can benefit pedestrians and cyclists now and keeping the tracks to enable a future light rail solution will be a practical hedge while we continue this necessary debate about smart transportation alternatives to the car. Let’s do this.
Robert Arko | Santa Cruz
Learn From Other Cities
Rail companies are largely exempt from local regulations, so I am deeply troubled by our Regional Transportation Commission’s choice of Progressive Rail to operate our rail corridor (GT, 5/2). Progressive Rail is deeply involved in the crude oil and fracking industry, and they expect to work with Lansing Trading to build a propane distribution facility in Watsonville.
Our community must learn from the experience of Grafton, Massachusetts, which was unable to stop its local rail operator from building a propane plant near an elementary school. We must prevent railroad companies from building fossil fuel infrastructure in our community. The RTC has not signed a contract yet, so there is still time to stop Progressive Rail in its tracks.
Brett Garrett | Santa Cruz
Re: Kelly Luker
When Kelly sent me the book to read here in Hawaii she asked that I give her some feedback. As a former public defender in Santa Cruz who used her services a lot, I can say that she was the best P.I. I ever worked with—and I worked with some good ones. By the time she got done interviewing a witness, you not only knew what they knew but she also utilized her newspaper reporter skills and gave you a rich picture of who this witness was so that when you met them in trial you felt that you knew them already. She helped me in many a jury trial. As for the book, I was surprised at how it accurately captured what it is like to be a public defender in the trenches. It was a great read by a great writer. P.S. I was not “Jeremy,” thank god.
— Sean Gallagher
Re: The Mermen
Good article. Thanks. I always try to cue up “Pull of the Moon” on night drives so that the crescendo is playing as I crest Highway 1 in South San Francisco and accelerate downhill into Pacifica (although that song and most of their catalog is great on any stretch of the highway, day or night). Their performance of “Pull of the Moon” on the beach at Fort Point in the late 1990s, interrupted a couple times by power outages, is still memorable.
— Eric Rice