Leaving before the last act is sometimes all too tempting. Kings and queens did it regularly, and presidents still do. Well, they're busy folk, and who among us hasn't taken the opportunity to duck out of something you felt obliged to attend but for which you couldn't muster any enthusiasm in the first hour? But are such things the inevitable result of bad art or evidence of our ever-shorter attention spans?
Or are we willing patrons of the arts only when we get what we know?
Case in point: Houston Grand Opera's current production of Peter Grimes. At last night's performance there were more empty seats after each intermission. Sadly, those who left missed some of the most amazing moments in a truly magical work, including the heartbreaking Act II quartet and Grimes' searing final soliloquy, sung with astonishing intensity by Anthony Dean Griffey.
Those who perform unconventional repertoire greatly appreciate listeners who like to be challenged occasionally. What can we do to motivate others to give unfamiliar music a chance?