Opera is a pretty strange experience to begin with, but what I saw in those Austrian productions many years ago didn’t “fit”—that is, a “minimalist” version of Verdi (and Mozart) made no sense in Graz’s resplendent opera house.Share
I have often thought that this is the “problem” with the Novus Ordo liturgy when it is celebrated in a pre-Vatican II church: the fit is all wrong. Sure, it is valid and licit (as certainly as I can say, “I saw Verdi and Mozart performed in Austria!”) and no doubt fulfills our “Sunday duty”—but whenever I’m in a magnificent church, I find myself hungering for either a full-blown choir chanting with the pipe organ or, at Low Mass, the unbroken quiet of the numinous experience of the unbloody reenactment of the Sacrifice on Calvary while surrounded on all sides by stained glass that recounts our collective salvific history and statuary that actually resembles the saints.
This disconnect may account for why post-Vatican II churches look the way they do—that is, a sort of cross between something Lutheran and Low Anglican: they were never intended for a Solemn High Mass sung in Latin—they were meant as a sort of ecumenical meeting-hall. The “event” of the Mass had been lowered from the rococo style to the post-abstract-expressionism of the 1960s. (Read more.)