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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 01:19 PM ET, 10/20/2011

NPR, Lisa Simeone and opera: Plenty of opportunity for bias!

James Poniewozik of Time.com is making a predictable argument in defense of the liberal media. He’s alleging an overreaction to the alleged misdeeds of Lisa Simeone, the radio talent who decided to participate in the October 2011/Stop the Machine protests.* Simeone has already been dismissed from her gig with the public-radio documentary program “Soundprint.”

Now the question is what happens to her other job as host of “World of Opera,” a program produced by WDAV in North Carolina and carried on NPR. An update on the NPR Web site says that “conversations” are addressing how to handle Simeone and “World of Opera” in light of her involvement in the protests.

Poniewozik diminishes any complications, conflicts, or difficulties for “World of Opera” stemming from Simeone’s political affiliations:

Public radio listeners! Have you long worried that your station was undermining capitalism through its broadcasts of the Ring Cycle? Tired of having your children brainwashed by the socialistic messages of La Traviata?

What a glib and irresponsible dismissal of the ethical quagmire sitting right in front of NPR, not to mention opera fans around the country. Think opera broadcasts afford no opportunity for political meddling by some out-of-control lefty? Well, let’s go to the record.

Here’s the transcript of the Simeone-heavy introduction of a recent edition of NPR Music’s World of Opera.

SIMEONE: From NPR Music and WDAV classical public radio, I’m Lisa Simeone with NPR World of Opera.
PLACIDO DOMINGO: Being the capital of this country, I always have the idea that we have to deliver American operas. It is a must and we are — every year we do anything we can to do a production.
SIMEONE: That’s Placido Domingo, expressing one of his most important goals as general director of the Washington National Opera — the presentation of American operas in the nation’s capital. In the years he’s been at the company’s helm, he’s done just that, and we’ve heard the results right here on “World of Opera.” In classics such as Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and Barber’s “Vanessa,” along with more recent works, including Andre Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” On today’s edition of the show, we’ve got the latest installment of Domingo’s American dream, the searing drama “A View From the Bridge,” by composer William Bolcom.
DOMINGO: My admiration for William Bolcom is really great. He really is a composer of our days, but with his heart and melody. ... melodic composer ... complicated hamornic work ... counterpoint. ... [blah blah]
SIMEONE: Again we heard Placido Domingo discussing the drama that’s coming to us this week from Washington National Opera. It’s William Bolcom’s “A View From the Bridge,” based on a play by Arthur Miller. The stars are Catherine Malfitano, Kim Josephson, Christine Brandes and Gregory Touray, and it comes to us from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. This time on “World of Opera” from NPR.

And here’s how that transcript could possibly end up looking if WDAV and NPR don’t get smart and toss Simeone aside!

SIMEONE: From NPR Music and WDAV classical public radio, I’m Comrade Lisa Simeone with NPR World of Opera.
PLACIDO DOMINGO: Being the capital of this country, I always have the idea that we have to deliver American operas. It is a must and we are — every year we do anything we can to do a production.
SIMEONE: That’s one-percenter Placido Domingo, expressing one of his most important goals as as general director of the Washington National Opera — the presentation of American operas amid the filth and corruption of the nation’s capital. In the years he’s been at the company’s helm, he’s done just that, and we’ve heard the results right here on “World of Opera.” In classics such as Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and Barber’s “Vanessa,” along with more recent works, including Andre Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Greed.” On today’s edition of the show, we’ve got the latest installment of Domingo’s version of the long-since-despoiled American dream, the searing drama “A View From the Bridge,” by composer William Bolcom.
DOMINGO: My admiration for William Bolcom is really great. He really is a composer of our days, but with his heart and melody. ... melodic composer ... complicated hamornic work ... counterpoint. ...
SIMEONE: Again we heard Placido Domingo discussing the drama that’s coming to us this week from Washington National Opera, where tickets can cost up to $300, an affront to working Americans. It’s William Bolcom’s “A View from the Bridge,” based on a play by Arthur Miller, a glorious, lifelong atheist who stood against racism and all manner of injustices! The stars are all 99 percenters: Catherine Malfitano, Kim Josephson, Christine Brandes and Gregory Touray and it comes to us from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., right in the back yard of the men and women who give billions of dollars away to Wall Street bankers. This time on “World of Opera” from NPR.

*A previous version of this story stated that Simeone had participated in the October 2011/Stop the Machine/Occupy DC protests. The last one is not accurate; she was not involved in the Occupy DC protests in an organizing capacity.

By  |  01:19 PM ET, 10/20/2011

 
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