I guess the most humbling thing about this is realizing how utterly in love I am with something that the rest of the world just might deem unessential. Like, in the big-scheme, unessential; the line-up for government aid is already enormous, and priorities have already become clear. The performing arts are certainly a staple of human society...but opera?
How sad that in announcing the Met’s 2020-21 season and the addition of the first European tour by the Met Orchestra in 20 years, it has taken this course. 26 opera companies in North America have waived Force Majeure and many have adopted plans to pay their soloists at least 50% of their fees.
Perhaps the question to ask is, why do so many young singers put up with it? I would urge my colleagues to put aside the undying loyalty to the artistic dream for a moment and speak up against unfair working conditions of any kind.
We were away for six weeks in the fall and four in the spring, touring our opera in remote parts of Québec and Ontario. It may not have been France, but I have had some of the best moments in my professional life.
I'm just done with it. It's exhausting and gross. I've learned (unfortunately) that on the Venn diagram of people who are pro-opera and people who are creeps, there's serious overlap.
As far as I'm concerned, the more Shostakovich the better. The composer belongs to a group of masters – including Scriabin and Chopin – whose work reaches vocal music devotee's ears far less than it should. Lady Macbeth's explosive score teems with a pathos that lives up to its fascinating offstage history of censorship under Stalin.
I've written several columns for Schmopera, so I think I know this audience. While this competition would be tough to impossible for a "pure" opera singer, there are plenty of us that love to perform a huge variety of things.
Maybe this is how it is for everyone that has a niche interest. Indie film lovers, college sports fans, lovers of obscure graphic novels - maybe they all bristle at the ubiquitous fandom of big-budget Hollywood movies, the NFL, DC Comics.
The box seems to generate its own energy. Covered in sophisticated hues of copper and gray with a resplendent image of Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde, who had surely passed through hair and make-up before leaving Valhalla, it is of monolithic proportions.
Last week's National Opera Association conference in Salt Lake City was filled with informative sessions, vocal and scenes competitions, their biannual one act opera competition, and achievement awards for Harolyn Blackwell and Stephen Lord.