And, let's be honest, we've all seen these productions, in which even basic narrative details of a piece are obscured, confused, ignored or senselessly "deconstructed" with sometimes baffling outcomes.
I browsed through some boxes and found records by Caruso, Bjoerling, Pavarotti, Tozzi, and on and on. I didn't even own a record player, but I purchased about $45 worth of vinyl at about $5 per record, and so began my latest obsession.
It's the question that crosses any touring performer's mind when the stage manager misses a stop sign or forgets to check their blind spot. You grip the armrests and wonder, "what if we crashed?" A year ago today, the members of one Canadian production found out.
This is a decent list of reasons to bring your teen to the opera. It's fair to add that opera is not the only place to learn these things; the list above is an argument for getting teens excited about reading, going to museums, and yes, watching well-written film and television.
I pose a theory, though: things are changing. I'm a woman in the industry who has worked with a number of conductors; I'm either extremely lucky, wholly unattractive, or it's true that conductors in the 21st century are, like men in all industries, getting on board with the idea of respecting their colleagues (and keeping their sex lives outside of the rehearsal room).
Opera plots have traditionally required dramatic, pot-boiling plots, often inspired by history. And murder, mayhem, and power have certainly been male dominated. But moving forward, successful lyric theater stories need not always be centered on these kinds of themes.
This time it is different. Now I'm truly allowing myself to give it up. It is without bitterness or resentment. I am discovering all the of possibilities I still have to be a creative and an artist, and I've identified the feeling in my gut that I mistook for fear to be my intuition telling me, "you can let this go now."
When it comes to Levine's abuse of those who are younger than him and who looked up to him, I'm almost at a loss. Should he be judged for his actions in a contemporary arena, where the tolerance for is closer to zero? Should he be one who takes the fall for an industry that has turned a blind eye for too long? Should we crane our necks and look past Levine, towards the next abuser?
Moreso than a healthy sex life, is it not also empowering for an older woman to have agency of her own? To make her own decisions? Maybe Octavian can sleep with anyone, but for now he's sleeping with her. Not once does the Marschallin confuse what she has with Octavian with true love.
My focus was so great that it likely made me a not-very-interesting person to those outside of my opera bubble, but I didn't care. In the years of academia, summer opera programs, and YAP audition circuits, there was always someone with whom I could talk about my love affair with opera. We were all smitten, it seemed.