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A Tale of Discomfort

June 20, 1992

Martin Bernheimer's review of Stravinsky's "Histoire du Soldat" at the Ojai Music Festival proves Peter Sellars' point that those who take themselves too seriously often miss the very art that is addressed to them ("Peter Sellars' 'Soldier': New Tale in Ojai," June 1).

Bernheimer's observation that the work was executed in the silly, dull and amateurish fashion of high school gangbangers only reveals his own discomfort with the disturbing contrast between Sellars' work and the rest of the festival, which Bernheimer describes as a blissful, overstuffed Mecca for the stubbornly sophisticated, enlightened many.

Bernheimer admits confusion over Sellars creating both the most thoughtful and disturbing Mozart opera productions of our time and such offensive work. But he refuses to try to understand what this choice is about. The entire evening was disturbing.

Bernheimer was free to dislike the production; however, by dismissing it as merely trendy and by judging it a failure because it lacked decorative packaging, he missed an opportunity to acknowledge the discomfort we all felt that night. Instead, he gave the audience permission to ignore their discomfort.

MARYANNE LEVINE, Toluca Lake

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