Day 3: New York

A busy day. Auditions for 30 singers and 1 apprentice coach. Interviews with conductors, directors. A brief visit with one of my colleagues from the San Francisco Opera Center, and a late night dinner with a long-time friend and colleague from my Washington (National) Opera days. Back then we weren’t “National”:) As a matter of fact, we were part of an exclusive club, the Two-Two’s (The Women Of The Washington Opera). We went bowling. It was a very different place then.

Soprano Aria Ideas

  • “You’ve Never Seen the Winter Here” from A Month in the Country
  • “But You Do Not Know This Man” from A View from the Bridge
  • “I Can Hardly Stand It / When He’s Away” (Stella’s aria) from A Streetcar Named Desire

Gestures

This week’s auditions have brought a couple of inappropriate – and more to the point, unnecessary – staging gestures. I’m not exactly prudish, but anything that detracts from rather than enhances your performance is not a good thing. This week it was about crotch-grabbing. Male and female. Don’t ask.

Was It a Good Thing?

OK, so I struggled to stay awake until 12:30 this morning to watch the Met’s Barber cast on Letterman. May I say I was underwhelmed? There are ways to do this well, and this wasn’t one of them. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s not an opera aficionado who saw this segment. (Yes, I do realize that if you aren’t interested in opera, you won’t be reading this, so I doubt I’ll get any feedback.) There was a tremendous amount of talent on that little stage, but I’m not sure anyone could tell. Standing in front of microphone stands, trying to connect with whatever monitor keeps them from getting separated from the conductor (who’s upstage) during the thorny stretto to the Act I Finale… Wouldn’t have piqued my interest.

5 Comments

ACB

I can pass along a comment from a non-opera friend who watched it (and taped it for me, although I think I’ve heard enough about it to pass…). He said, “It didn’t do anything except perpetuate stereotypes about opera.”

I think that just about sums it up. Too bad, a missed opportunity to share what is sexy and fresh about opera with a new audience. (And I don’t mean crotch-grabbing!)

Lawrence Edelson

I have to agree, Kim, with your comments on the Met Letterman appearance, and would even go so far as to say this sort of exposure can do more harm than good. I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that any PR is good PR – especially when it comes to building participation in opera. Of all things to present on television, a static staging of the Act I finale from Barber actually reinforces so many of the negative stereotypes that everyone in the field is working so hard to address – including the Met. I’m actually rather shocked that Peter Gelb endorsed this segment (and I can’t believe something this major would happen without his endorsement). Gelb is a brilliant man, regardless of what anyone thinks of his individual initiatives, and PR and Marketing are his strengths. This was, IMHO, a massive misfire. I watched the Letterman Show with a friend who does not particularly like opera, and she said “How boring – why would I want to go see this?”. Non theatrical presentation of opera on television + no opportunity to discuss the excerpt with the host = an enormous missed opportunity.

Incidentally, the next morning on The View, Beverly Sills was the guest host. They showed a 30 second clip of her in Sempre libera which eclipsed the entire Letterman event. She was also charming, funny and articulate – as we all know she is. It made me think of all of her appearances on Carson, and her amazing special with Carol Burnett — perhaps the Met and everyone else who is considering using network television as a diversification tool might want to take a look at some of those old tapes. Granted they may look dated now, but they certainly could inform strategies that would be more effective than the most recent Letterman appearance!

Anonymous

Darren Keith Woods says:

I totally agree with you all about the awful Letterman segment. Put Juan Diego in a sexy tight t-shirt and some jeans and let him rip with “Ecco ridente”. By the way – don’t you guys have TIVO?

Kim

No TIVO. Probably the only gadget I have no interest in. The backlog of unwatched stuff would mock me mercilessly. :)

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