Tag: opera

Wagner’s Parsifal: A Book Report


I’ve just finished reading Roger Scruton’s Wagner’s Parsifal. It was Scruton’s last book, about Wagner’s last work, and though I struggled to get through his Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, I thought I’d try Parsifal anyway.

To be clear: I’m ignorant of opera. I once saw Carmen in Warsaw, but that and What’s Opera, Doc? are my forays into that intimidating, expensive art form.

Identity Politics Goes to the Opera


This season, star soprano Anna Netrebko is singing the title role in Verdi’s Aida at the Metropolitan Opera. The opera tells the story of an Ethiopian princess (Aida) captured by the Egyptians who falls in love with their celebrated, conquering warrior. Netrebko is not Ethiopian, but Russian, and the fact that she is supposed to be portraying an Ethiopian princess is a point of contention in a few parts of the opera world.

This is a major part of the concerns raised in an open letter to Met General Manager Peter Gelb by Joshua Banbury, a senior at the New School, a design and performance college. In his letter, he expresses concern that Netrebko’s skin has been darkened with tanning for the role. While he notes that this is not an example of “classic blackface,” he is concerned that it resides in the same tradition and “suggests that black opera singers are not available to represent themselves on stage and only white opera singers can tell their stories.”

Member Post


Matthias Echternach is a senior physician at the University Hospital in Freiburg, Germany. He also sings in the Stuttgart Chamber Choir and studies the physical aspect of singing. He’s asked some of the world’s best to lie down in his MRI and just sing. Recently, he asked baritone Michael Volle to do the honors. Volle […]

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Yes, I’m an Opera Singer. No, Not Like Charlotte Church…


Charlotte_ChurchA recent conversation with a friend reminded me of something I dealt with frequently in my singer days. For years, after someone found out I was a classical singer, they would say excitedly, “Oh! You sing like Charlotte Church?! She has the voice of an angel.” At this point in the conversation I had three options: 1) Tackle them to the ground and slap them silly, 2) Explain in depth why Charlotte Church and Jackie Evancho are the products of amazing PR, but have been paraded and pushed beyond their vocal limits, ruining their voices in the process, or, 3) Smile and say, “Well, not really…”

I usually opted for number 3, unless I felt the person had the interest and ability to understand my exegesis on the horrors of tween “opera singers.” For the longest time, my mother would always say, “You’re just jealous that she’s so successful.” Of course, every singer wants to be successful, but not like that. So I would like to shed some light on the education and development of young singers in hopes that y’all will never buy a Charlotte Church or Jackie Evancho album every again.

I once heard a violinist say, “Similar to the dolphin, who is not a part of the family of fish, the singer is not a part of the family of musicians.” While it was meant to be a jab at singers, there is some truth to it. Singers are unique among musicians. We don’t start training rigorously at age five the way instrumentalists do. Here’s how the timeline for a singer’s career should look, though some things will vary depending on the voice type:

The Infective Quality of Political Correctness, or How the Liberal Narrative Is Ruining Opera


Two years ago Nashville Opera staged Verdi’s Otello for the first time since 2001 (your’s truly was in that production). Mary Dunleavy sang like a goddess, as usual. As is so popular in opera nowadays, Otello was moved from 16th century Cyprus and instead set during the Desert Storm. I am normally not a fan of modernizing opera or changing the context of its setting, but it actually worked. Besides the obvious deviation in setting, the most striking thing about this production was the fact that Otello (or Othello, if you prefer) was not black, either as the result of casting or make up. Historically, white tenors have donned dark pan stick foundation in order to transform them into Shakespeare’s Moorish war hero. Not this time — Otello was instead just a white guy that was really tanned by desert sun. It was weird.

Then today, New York Public Radio featured a story announcing that the Metropolitan Opera will be presenting Otello this season, but will no longer be using skin darkening make up to make the white tenor look black in this production.

Member Post


Today I decided to switch from Firefox to Opera.  If you’re wondering why, go read here and here. My point is not to rehash that controversy, but rather to create a thread for other members who have decided to give Opera a try to share any issues, tips, or cool features we might encounter in the […]

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