The view of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre on the role of women in society is well-known: they should be happily married, produce children as required, defer to their husbands, dress smartly but not flashily (except when being leered at by Mail Online’s “sidebar of shame”), and, most of all, must expect to be subjected to the nastiest of criticism, and not expect anyone to care what they think.
Why the f*** should my hacks care what the girlies worry their pretty little heads about, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
This extends even to the world of opera: cue “Sorry, but if it looks like she's been at the biscuit barrel, we critics have to report it: The Mail's QUENTIN LETTS weighs in on opera's great 'fat lady' furore” from the odious Quent (let’s not), who has been taking stick for his characteristically malevolent abuse of mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught, who appears as Octavian in Glyndebourne’s Der Rosenkavalier.
Letts is clearly aghast that someone has had the audacity to talk back to Dacre’s emissary to the more highbrow performing arts, blustering that he and his fellow slobs should be able to “call it as they see it” (shurely “insult performers with impunity”? – Ed). “Anything less would be Leveson-style censorship” he bleats, dutifully getting in his dig at something that doesn’t exist.
What, then, is the problem posed by Ms Erraught’s presence? “The opera world is accusing London critics of sexism after they described soprano Tara Erraught as ‘dumpy’ and ‘stocky’ ... how ridiculous ... Miss Erraught indeed looks as though she has been at the biscuit barrel”. How very Middle Stump Anglican of Letts to have a biscuit barrel in his petite maison.
But do dig yourself in a little deeper, Quent: “Opera is a visual spectacle, dramatic art, music-theatre. The audience is being asked to suspend its disbelief. If Octavian is played by a roly-poly with a bad hairdo, suspension of disbelief becomes tricky”. Ri-i-ight. I’ve heard quite enough, thanks. Now a word in your upmarket I-send-the-servants-to-shop-at-Waitrose shell-like, Mr lah-de-dah Gunner Letts.
Behold the svelte figure of Quentin Fimtimlimbinwhimbinlim Bus Stop F'tang F'tang Ole Biscuit Barrel
First, Octavian, as those familiar with Richard Strauss’ meisterwerk will know, may be voiced by a mezzo-soprano, but the character is that of a young man. Second, Ms Erraught (do we have to have this Daily Mail obsession with “Miss”?) is neither “dumpy”, “stocky”, nor a “roly-poly”. But any or all of these epithets could be applied to Letts himself, seen here slobbing out like a sack of King Edwards.
One would hate to be so unkind as to point this out with the proverbial Dirty Great Club, but one also hopes that Quent gets the point. And when Letts concludes that anyone disagreeing with him is part of “The attempt to browbeat the opera critics ... all part of the Left’s new taste for censorship”, my only conclusion is that this misogynist dinosaur takes his attitude and sticks it.
Meanwhile, let us hope Tara Erraught reprises her Octavian many more times.