It’s not our biggest problem, or even in the top ten, or top 100. But it’s still a problem, I think: the overamplification of American life. I have long held this view, but have been spurred to write about it by recent events.
I went to the New York Philharmonic to review a performance of Sweeney Todd, the Sondheim musical. (Every season or so, the Philharmonic will stage a musical, for variety’s sake, I suppose, and maybe for the box office, too.) The cast was a mixture of classical and Broadway performers. In the title role was Bryn Terfel, the great Welsh bass-baritone. It was a shock to hear him sing into a microphone. The sound was unnatural — Terfel-like, but not quite Terfel. There is no hall anywhere that he can’t fill, naturally. Was it really necessary to mike him? To gild that lily?