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.