Opera choice ironic

News reached our corner of the province the other day of the apparent playing of a closed loop of what CBC news describes as “opera music” outside a drop-in centre in downtown Prince George to discourage marginalized people from congregating.

Broadcasting unpleasant sounds, like designing benches that you can’t lie down on or concrete planters with spikes you can’t sit on, are unfortunately not uncommon strategies in some urban environments. They aim to make people the rest of us don’t want to see vanish.

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As a goal, this is fundamentally inhuman because it denies not only dignity but identity to people whom we see not as individuals but as an undesirable mass, the way a broom sees dust.

And as if that weren’t lamentable enough, apparently what is being played in PG is some amorphous irritant called “opera music.” In fact, the video clip included with the report on the CBC website is the famous aria Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot. Never mind that this is one of the most famous and best loved tenor arias in the world, but listen to some of the words sung by a man who loves a woman who doesn’t know of his existence:

“My mystery is closed in me/ No one will know my name.”

The aria ends with the loud and dramatic assertion by the tenor of his belief that he will in fact be victorious in winning her love:

“Vincero! Vincero! -  I will triumph”

And this aria is what someone has though to use as noise to scare away the anonymous, the defeated, the hopeless?

The irony is stunning.

George Sipos

Salt Spring Island


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