Oscar, the opera in Philadelphia
The last time Oscar Wilde visited Philadelphia it was to promote an opera. That was during his lecture tour of America in 1882 when a required part of his raison d’être was to be the poster-boy for Gilbert & Sullivan’s latest offering Patience—a comic opera whose purpose was to ridicule the adherents of the Aesthetic Movement. Not that it mattered to Oscar Wilde that he was the movement’s leading representative and the person most closely identified with the ridicule. He always knew he would outlive the mob mentality, and it is an ironic measure of the wisdom of Wilde’s indifference that he has now triumphantly returned to Philadelphia as the subject of an opera himself. The question is: if Oscar the man was indifferent to Patience, would he have had any patience for Oscar the opera?