Friday, January 4, 2008

Gratitude - Day 47

So in reaction to this little story, and in solidarity with all the opera singers who are looking for our quick fixes, I can highly recommend this store in Barcelona, which in fact, I'm grateful for.

(In fact, it's only a candy store, but our neighborhood street corner here in Barcelona, being the colorful city it is, happens to be FULL of folks able to satisfy every chemical desire: cortisone I'm actually not so sure about, but anything else you should care for can easily be arranged!)

While my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, I do find it interesting that our profession is suddenly undergoing such scrutiny: DRUGS! SURGERY! FAT! THIN! AFFAIRS! DRUGS! CANCELLATIONS! CHE SCANDALO!

On the one hand, it means that we are fodder for headlines, putting us squarely into the public limelight which could be a beautiful and wonderful thing - fill those seats, right? Definitely! Publicity is nothing new to this gig. On the other hand, it could also reduce us, once again, to mere caricatures, only this time without expanded waste lines and horns on our head, but instead with plastic smiles and empty words. I find it ironic that all of a sudden it seems that there is this immense pressure on singers to "look good" - when in fact, that pressure has always been there. (Toscanini in his letters spoke often of the size of his prima donnas - chastising them with his usual flair; any perusing of photos of the great divas of the 20's and 30's show TRUE glamor in action: Rise Stevens, anyone?) Of course, there were heavy singers - but I propose that the myth of "The Fat Lady" has, in fact, only been a myth, perpetuated by writers that are looking for a headline with cachè. Yes, there have always been big singers, just like there have always been large accountants and comedians and mechanics and movie stars. But some of these folks just happen to be blessed with an amazing, heart wrenching talent to move me to tears, helping open my eyes to worlds far beyond me, while other perfectly proportioned singers can really piss me off for the insincerity they toss around so liberally. Balance - it's just all about balance.

It's such a peculiar, exciting time to be a part of this profession, and honestly, I'm again grateful to be in the thick of things. Personally, I believe that as long as singers take a vested responsibility for the talent they have been given and give of it sincerely and honestly to the people who have paid their hard earned money to receive it, all should be right with our bizarre world of warbling. Let the headlines come; let the people wax rhapsodic about that mythical fat lady; let people on an airline seat tell me how much they love "that (I can hardly write it) opera singer girl from Wales": I'll keep professing that our best weapon for retaliation is sincere, moving, heartfelt performances. Get them in the seats, and then trust this art form that we love so much.

Oh right - the pills. We're also human. We have all the same faults and idiosyncrasies that civilians do - it's just that our lives can take on exaggerated qualities, to put it delicately. But that's another post ... time for my Happy Pill ;-)


Parsifal said...

Well, it seems that this article is the talk of the town on the operatic blogosphere... I had already written about Lirica e doping in October..

Parsifal said...

PS. I'm anxiously waiting to watch a dvd of the tonight's Cenerentola telecast! Joyce=Angelina!

Yankeediva said...

Thank you, Sir! I'm very happy you enjoyed it!

Renee said...

Okay, I realize I'm way behind the beat on this one, having just read this today, over two months later,
but thank you.
From those of us 20-year-old mezzos, trying to figure out this all-too-crazy world of opera, who look up to you in a huge way--thank you. You really are an inspiration.