Friday, September 5, 2008

"Fat doesn't make noise!"

As the world of Opera moves into a more mainstream art form with the advent of HD Broadcasts to Movie Theatres and the like, I continue to run those words over and over again in my head - true, or not.

I’m afraid that the days are numbered for opera singers who sing and act the hell out of a role, but don’t have the Hollywood looks. It makes me wonder: would singers like Caballe, Sutherland, Horne, Norman, London or even Pavarotti have ever had a chance in this day and age? They were all beautiful in their own way, but certainly didn’t fit a “mold”.

I’m sure it’s purely psychological. When we go to a movie at the local Harkins Theatre, we see perfectly coiffed, perfectly made up, perfectly dressed, perfectly sculpted men and women. So, it also stands to be true that when we go to the local Harkins Theatre again, but this time to watch Tristan und Isolde, Lucia di Lammermoor, Tosca or even La Boheme - we can’t help but to assume that since we’re sitting in the comfortable seats with our nachos, popcorn and silo of Diet Pepsi, that the people on the screen will look just like Christian Bale or Sarah Jessica Parker.

As the demand grows for younger opera singers with those Hollywood looks, I believe that we’re getting away from the type of singers that can sing -truly sing- operatic roles in the way in which they were intended to be sung. Some of these young singers sound immature and, quite frankly, anemic.

Companies, it seems, are always looking for a 20 year old to sing, for example, Butterfly. In addition, many of the companies who are looking for the 20 year old Butterfly, also mandate that she be size 4-ish. I believe that it is these young singers who are so consumed with being the size 4-ish, 20 year old, Butterfly that all they eat is a salad with lemon juice and a grilled chicken breast for lunch before a performance. Then they come out for the curtain call all strung out. Who can blame them? THEY HAVEN’T EATEN!

Now, I know some singers don’t eat before a performance due to various reasons. But, for me, I gotta EAT before I go on. AND, I have to have snacks during the intervals. If I don’t, my brain starts to go fuzzy and I can barely make it to the curtain call. But, I digress.

Instead of seeing a person of size singing and acting the hell out of a role and allowing ourselves to be happily distracted by the beauty of their sound - we now have to force ourselves to forgive sometimes unpleasant and anemic singing in exchange for a beautiful face and sculpted body. I guess we can rest assured in one thing: the beautiful face and sculpted body probably wont be around for long. The riggers of keeping up with it - ie: Botox injections, diets, excessive time at the gym, Gastric Bypass Surgery, Face Lifts, etc - will catch up to them sooner or later.

The moral of the story: be healthy - and for God's sake - EAT SOMETHING!

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