Am I the only person who subscribes to both The Wire and Wired magazines?
Anyway, the new issue of The Wire kicks off with Chris Bohn proclaiming modern opera's lack of success portraying "dictators and demagogues" e.g. in Nixon in China:
Their tepidly satirical burlesques and numbingly inane repetitions add up to mildly noxious entertainments that hardly deliver justice for their ostensible subjects' deeds. To these ears, they're left seriously wanting by their composer's desire for his opera creations to be liked.
I naively assume all opera composers want their art to be liked, at least by someone if not everyone. And I'll grant The Chairman Dances doesn't fit into the more extreme aesthetic of the magazine. Ok, I'll skip ahead to the book review of Cornelius Cardew: A Reader:
After witnessing a concert by John Cage and David Tudor in 1958 Cardew became preoccupied with Cage and his American avant garde associates; that gave way in time to his search for viable popular forms to communicate urgent political messages.
I'll argue that the political informs the musical and not vice versa. But having only heard Cardew's music via cacophonous podcast, I can't say if he achieved his goal.