“The staging was fantastic, but that tenor was horrendous!” says one operagoer to another as  they exit the show. These murmurs of disappointment  wouldn’t be especially surprising overheard at a local community theatre.  But what about at the Met, La Scala or Chicago Lyric?

Lately, more and more operagoers are gripping about how one particularly atrocious singer ruined the whole show for them. But why would so many A-list houses have this same issue?

As it turns out, major opera houses do not run auditions just like everywhere else. Smaller houses hold  huge auditions at the end of the season to cast the roles for the next. Major opera houses, however, might cast their lead roles half a decade in advance and often do not hold auditions. (I wonder when the last time Netrebko auditioned for something was.)

This strategy is lucrative for the well-established, well-managed singers, yet has hurt the careers of so many others. I believe that  this concept of “advanced casting”  is directly ruining the experience of opera for so many.

Casting used to look differently. In the 1960’s, Rudolph Bing would wait until the spring tour of a season to cast the next one. Now casting is done with the same haste but it occurs years in advance. Opera houses scramble to book a shrinking pool of “world class” singers three, four or five years before the designated season. Meanwhile, the “not so world class but damned fine” singers are hung out to dry. It seems that the only way to make a big debut at many of these houses would be to land an understudy gig and step in at the last minute for the ailing superstar.

Now, a lot can happen in those 2-5 years. A singer could develop nodes, they could have a baby, they could overbook themselves. . . and the list goes on. The issue is that now, a singer can overbook themselves, show up in less than stellar form, and it is increasingly hard to fire them. The contracts have become bulletproof. Even if the whole show sags because of someones performance, the only way to nix them and pull in a ringer is to pay out the original singers contract AND pay the new artist’s fees.

So, instead of firing them, the show just goes on, much to the chagrin of the people who paid hundreds for their seats.

Now that doesn’t seem fair. . . Does it? 


Tweetable Sentences

The orchestra webpage states residencies involve educational community building concerts that display classical programs in casual settings.

The conversion from three dimensional work to two dimensional photograph masks the textures but emphasizes the shading.

It ends with:  “someday I swear I will stay in your mind forever then you’ll know how to write & praise my Modern Girlhood.”

Since Mindy and the other women were uncomfortable with Danny’s comment, they could’ve called him out so he could learn how he was wrong.

Why is it that art conservatories in the U.S. are so expensive yet the artists can’t earn a livable wage after they graduate?

In middle school Sufjan Stevens would make me think of small midwestern homes in the rain and going to the supermarket at 4pm and dark.

The Longest Sentences

The conversion from three dimensional work of art to two dimensional photograph masks the paper, clay, and wood’s textures, allowing the shading and precise shapes to shine through.

According to the orchestra’s webpage, these month-long residencies involve a mix of educational events — master classes and side by side performance with local school districts, for example — and community-building concerts that display classical programs in a more casual setting.

Except for a brief period in middle school in which I would put on Sufjan Stevens and force myself to think of small midwestern homes in the rain and going to the supermarket when it’s 4pm and already dark.

Lately the question that has really been nagging me is this: Why is it that in the US, arts conservatories are some of the most expensive schools in the nation, but when it comes to paying those artists a livable wage after the fact, our country turns a big fat cold shoulder?

Mindy and the other women in the room rightfully disagree with Danny and they were all made uncomfortable by his comment — they could have called him out about his unfeminist actions and he could have learned what he did wrong.

The very end of the song is its climax: Papista brings her vocals up into a much higher range and yells them out: “someday I swear I will stay in your mind forever / then you’ll know, you’ll know, how to write and praise my / Modern Girlhood” and “then you’ll know, you’ll teach, you’ll fight for your own / Modern Girlhood.

Oberlin Alums in Journalism: The Grand Informal Q&A/Advice Post

Did you once sit in an Oberlin classroom, perhaps taught by Anne Trubek, and now work in journalism? We, the students of RHET 306: Writing About The Arts, have many questions for you.

How did you get from King to your current office? What was your path?

What do you wish you knew/had done before Commencement?

Internships, yes or no?

Should we all move to New York?

What should we be reading?

Are these good questions or there others we should be asking, and what are those?

Thanks for your responses! You can leave them in a comment below. Or, if you want to write more and/or privately, email Anne at anne.trubek@gmail.com and she’ll share your thoughts with us via email or in class.

Four Elements of a Great Story a la Tom Wolfe

1) constructing scenes

2) dialogue — lots of it

3) carefully noting social status details — “everything from dress and furniture to the infinite status clues of speech, how one talks to superiors or inferiors … and with what sort of accent and vocabulary”

4) point of view, “in the Henry Jamesian sense of putting the reader inside the mind of someone other than the writer.””