So they want Opera Singers to be ordinary…..

Let me get this right…. ALL the singers today are falling all over themselves to say they are just ordinary folk…. girl next door, your best friend who happens to sing,  just one of the guys…….

I post this glorious photo of an “ordinary” day with extraordinary people…. In Sant’ Agata, the home in Parma of Giuseppe Verdi with his wife, various Ricordi family, his attorney, singers, in fact one of Verdi’s favorites, Teresa Stolz;  and in these very same chairs that are there to this day nestled in a cresh of the house.  Green and lush, little time capsules, with the indents of the illustrious who have sat on them still in eerie evidence.   Ordinary people doing ordinary things.  A place for everything, everything in its place.

Why must an opera singer beg to be accepted for doing something so fabulous?  Today in opera we must feel like everyone is one of us. Every other profession trips all over itself to inflate and boast about it’s greatness and importance.  Men who play with an orange leather ball think it special enough to have a press conference about taking their talents to South Beach !  But opera singers have to be “down to earth”,      or the “People’s Diva”?  Okay, I get the marketing angle, and the two people currently trying that are truly wonderful people and great talents,  but why?  What is so difficult about letting people hear you do something NO ONE else does,  with gorgeous voices….?

In a time of GLEE yet, and AMERICAN IDOL,  we have singers apologizing for their accomplished selves? What a brain surgeon does is very extraordinary.  You don’t want your brain near an ordinary doctor.   Your love of music used to be entrusted to those who gave their lives in service and study and sacrifice.  You had to study very hard and have the intangible on your side.  A voice with a special quality,  a magia,        a magic, making those who hear you want to hear you.  And then not insult anyone’s intelligence by slaughtering languages, and styles, and … well, you get what I mean.

Opera to be really opera cannot be small.  It must rule out needing a magnifying glass. What’s wrong with that?  There is enough in life saying, be quiet, full into line, be an adult child, seen but not heard. Opera is your chance to break free and feel something big, and passionate.  Nuance,  inflection, personal touch and feeling, big or small defines the chance for a truly intimate experience, but opera is about BIG feelings.

WE SING everything. That is not normal, it is divine. It is special.  When Luciano opened his mouth to sing lo those many innocent years ago on Johnny Carson’s Late Night Show, people saw someone nervous, and hopeful, and AUTHENTIC…. and special….. and then he sang.  Rare and one of a kind.  Everyone listening knew they were in the presence of something extraordinary.  It made them feel special, like they were of a part of something different and evolved and yet accessible, a culture, an expert sharing his life and passion. At the very least it was something that sounded pretty and they aren’t stupid, they know.  Why must opera dumb itself down, when left to itself, on it’s own merits, it continues to enchant?

Here is the very magnetic, amazingly beautiful in voice and person, Renata Tebaldi out for an ordinary stroll that became a throng of admiring fans and people struck by the specialness of the effect on the public she had…..who was this?  How does she drive them this crazy…?

I love to  post some of the fabulous singers that came before….. why?   Because they are closer to what I like…..   Look at this face….  Alive and handsome, the wonderful Italian baritone,  Gino Bechi.                        What an intense, beautiful expression.  Followed by another Italian great, Aldo Protti…..

Toti del Monte,   showing a personal charm and allure…..

The archives in Italy are filled with RAI Uno and Canale 5 interviews from the Arena and the various cities with  opera festivals and opera houses, with a “cooking” Barbieri, or a Corelli prepping for a show or shopping for Christmas gifts, or a Sutherland going for a stroll, simple day to day things,  yes.  But behind it was the total awe about what and how they did what they did…. They never apologized,  they never belittled their profession, they never made light of the difficulties….. it was a life of sacrifice and dedication…..

Verdi says it best:

“To me it seems that art practiced in this manner is no longer art, but a trade, a diversion, a sport, something to run after, to be made, if not successful, at least notorious at any cost. The feelings aroused in me are disgust and humiliation…..”

and then,

” Journalists, singers, players, choristers, and directors, etc etc.. all have to contribute their stone to the edifice of publicity, to make in this way a cornice of nonsensical trifles that add nothing to the merit of the opera and may quite possibly detract from it’s real value. It is deplorable, utterly deplorable… All I desire for this opera is a good and especially an intelligent production from the vocal, instrumental and scenic point of view. As for the rest- a’ la grace de dieu”

                                                                                                          Could he be any more handsome?  A perfect physique du role….  a GOD.

A love struck, thunder-struck Don Jose in Carmen.  There would be no Escamillo for me……

I hope to be back in form by end of this year to continue my service to music,  the body smaller and easier to move and breathe, and more in keeping with the current trend, but I hope I will not be the only one saying that opera is a divine world, where you gain entry on the sounds emitted by one of your own species, who in turn, takes you somewhere FAR from ordinary…. please, young artists, don’t let them tell you you aren’t a special being doing a very special service ….. bringing opera and all it’s magic into a new time and a new century, intact.  Not a hybrid that bares no resemblance to the real thing.  I have said it before and I will repeat here,  Opera has nothing to apologize for…..

~ by aprilemillo on July 19, 2011.

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