Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Bring to account


So recently in the world of opera there has been lots of talk about the controversial Georgian soprano Tamar Iveri (pictured) and her comments on gay-folk. These hurtful comments have been taken very badly by the public and by the LGBT community. She has since been released from her contract at Opera Australia, and more articles fly around on social media sites about how the company was too slow to respond to her actions (well, words).

Tamar Iveri has been brought to account about these words- if you ask me, releasing these thoughts so publicly with this kind of influence was a pretty stupid idea, in any profession but especially opera. I don't understand why she made it so public- in the words of the chorus of police in The pirates of Penzance- 'This is perplexing!' 'We cannot understand it at all!'

All this leads me to a few thoughts. I found it weird that so many people who were fiercely pro immigration shouted 'get out of my country' at her when she said this, but my main beef is with something else.

There is another far more famous Russian soprano Anna Netrebko (pictured). It has been common knowledge that she is a supporter of Vladimir Putin. She has released a statement saying that "As an artist, it is my great joy to collaborate with all of my wonderful colleagues-regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I have never and will never discriminate against anyone." So luckily she does not share Iveri's views.

Still, I just wonder why no one seems to care that she has endorsed him very strongly. It is a totally different kettle of fish, I know, but I can't help but wonder.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Dramatic tenors... rare, but bullied.

Hello all. Long time no post!

In the business world, if there is a shortage of something, advertisements are made to the affect of 'skills shortage, we need a person who can do this' or 'person needed urgently'. This skills shortage, usually, is addressed; more people are trained in this skill, and the positions are filled.

Imagine now, a different market where skills shortages exist. Only this time, when people possess that skill, they are BULLIED, and told that it's bad.

This, my friends, is how young singers feel who might have a slightly larger voice than the rest of their colleagues and friends, and who potentially possess the required attributes in the skills shortage of dramatic singers.


Most operatically trained singers never fit in a choir. Dramatic or not, the partials/formants that we produce are not produced by the other choristers, so it looks and sounds like we are being louder. Actually volume is not the issue, it is the frequencies in the sound of an operatic voice (formants that orchestras don't/can't make, so that's why we can be heard over one) that stick out because the rest of the choristers aren't trained to tap into those. One would think, then, that if you move into a group of classically trained singers then things might change, and said singers would be able to sing at full voice and in the body. However, it's not always the case.

Sometimes, singers with louder voices than their friends and colleagues go into choruses at university and still get put down. Things like 'your voice is offensive' or a passive aggressive 'calm down' and a simple but frank 'you're too loud' are among some of the things that get said to them. A student with low self esteem (as we all know, this could be a direct result of the aforementioned bullying) and less confidence would leave opera altogether, because who needs to be bullied right?

Then further down the track, a company director says,
"Ok, so in 5 years I want to stage a new production of Lohengrin." The conductor says-
"So who will sing Lohengrin?"
"Well there is this person..."
"They are otherwise engaged."
"There is literally no one else in this country who can sing it."

...and they wonder where all the Heldentenors went. Your Lohengrin is probably in that country... but he's working an office job, because he was bullied out by YOU. Well done, opera world.


A Heldentenor, John Mitchinson, singing Rienzi's prayer. Someone like him would be bullied as a young singer.