You can't beat the American Record Guide when it comes to insightful reviews of classical recordings and videos, as well as informative reports on live performances around the world. Every issue is a feast of nearly 300 pages. One might think that this generous offering should be enough to sate any music aficionado, but resident curmudgeon and editor David Vroon cannot resist the opportunity to serve up lagniappes on proper behavior.
Vroon routinely decries the state of society (we're in the hands of barbarians) and music appreciation (we have tin ears and popular music is perverse). I'm sympathetic—to a degree—and it's difficult not to admire someone who knows everything about everything and is willing to share the bounty of his omniscience. An unsigned squib appears as a filler on p. 232 of the March/April 2008 issue. Although it's unattributed, I think I recognize the lion by his paw:
Word Police: Brava and BraviThe writer knows what is proper and would appreciate it if we were to emulate his impeccable example. Let us pass gently over the opportunity to make sport of a sententious finger-wagger calling someone a pompous ass. Let me instead perform a dutiful examination of conscience. I do believe that I have sinned.
There is an English interjection: Bravo!
It has no feminine or plural form; interjections do not get declined. When you hear “Brava!” or “Bravi!” you are listening to a pompous ass—or you are in Italy.
By the same token, a great female player is a virtuoso, same as a man. And it's piano concertos, not concerti.
Why do these people pretend to be Italians? What is wrong with English?
There were three occasions when I was privileged to see and hear the phenomenal Birgit Nilsson at the San Francisco Opera. She sang Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, the Dyer's Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Brünnhilde in Die Walküre. From piano to forte—or should I say “from soft to loud,” Mr. Vroon?—the diva's voice left us vibrating in sympathetic delight. When she took her curtain calls, I'm quite certain that I yelled “Brava!” quite vigorously, as did several other people in the audience.
Those other people were pompous asses, of course. I, on the other hand, always cheer in Italian at the end of a German opera. Tanto meglio!