Renée’s Online Study Poll Results

 


Name: Robert A. Dunn
Profession: wigsmaster
Date: 09/17/2004 11:57:55 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I have to say no. If that were true than someone living on my income would never have been able to see the opera which I have seen. It's not inexpensive to attend the opera but it can be done on a limited budget.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

To be honest I do not enjoy Ms. Fleming singing more popular/musical theatre music. She has an amazing instrument which has been trained to sing opera and it sounds silly singing musical theatre music. I don't want to hear Patti Lupone or Bernadette Peters singing Un bel di or Casta Diva either. Each person has their own gift and should use it to the best of their ablilities but should also realize the range of their abilities. Ms. Fleming's opera repertoire continues to grow and become more fabulous with each year. I can't wait to hear what is next for her in the opera world.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Here in the USA yes I do think Classical Music and Opera are endangered art forms because of the low importance placed on music and the arts in general in our schools. When society has a whole states that something is not important the children begin to listen. I think a large shift is necessary in our society. Music and art are essential to a childs growth and understanding of society.


Name: gerald sternbach
Profession: musical director (theater)/ songwriter/
Date: 09/16/2004 02:04:41 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I'd like to think not. It should never be looked/or heard at from behind a glass distanced from the audience. I saw Idomeneo in LA last evening and it was attended by young, old alike and the pre-opera lecture was packed!!!!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She should sing what she likes. and what moves her..however you sing Joni Mitchell or Duke Ellington differently than Strauss or Verdi...but the communication should be the same. I have been privileged to accompany f the 70-years young Marilyn Horne...who sings Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael and Paul Simon with the same worldly reverence and inspiration as a Montsalvage,Schubertor Wolf lied. (we'll have to put Rossini in another category of her inspiration)

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I am passionate about musical theater, as well as all classical music and especially opera. You need to enlighten, educate and inspire audiences about history and context of art, but never lose sight that all art must be ALIVE to br fully experienced. People can learn and always willing to discover new things...even things that may not be new...but new to them.


Name: Heather Virtue
Profession: French Horn player/Machinist
Date: 09/15/2004 06:54:52 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes. however popular "pop" music may be, I feel that the reason classical/opera music is listened to less is not only because of the age factor of the music, but also largely because there are so many facets to a classical composition. Layers upon layers of intricate sounds make up this art and I really believe that many have a hard time listening to it because it is practically impossible for the average listener to pick out one individual voice. So, yes! it is an elitist art form...anyone can pick up a mixer and sampler and write music. But how many can say the same about playing an oboe or french horn?

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I personally feel that if Renee were to sing popular music it would probably be the best thing that the culture has seen in a while. Why not share such a beautiful voice with as many people possible? I listen to pop music everyday...it would be nice to hear a good voice for once when i turn on the radio.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do think it is an endangered art form only because of the fact that society has not taken the time to share the joys of it with todays youth. I am not thrilled about some types of classical music, but much of it is beautiful...but there has to be a respect for it. Not many people have that respect. However, I think that opera is enjoying a nice comeback. I would love to see more contemporary operas.......like, John Adams?


Name: Benjamin Walter
Profession: Professor Political Science, Vanderbilt
Date: 09/15/2004 02:09:11 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
It probably is but does not have to be. Lowering ticket prices and high school outreach programs would help. Also, getting unused tickets to students at a deeply discounted price, perhaps for nothing.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She could recite train schedules to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and I'd buy tickets. Within the realm of "serious" music, I'd like to hear more Italian opera and less French-German repertory. I check daily at the local Tower Record store for her new Handel collection.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical music is endangered. I see fewer and fewer high school students attending our local (Nashville Tennessee) symphony orchestra. Opera, probably less. DVD performances help young people see the dramatic or comedic face of opera in a way that the most inspired performance on CD cannot. As more people acquire home theatre systems, putting opera on display in this format can increase audiences, revenue and the desire to see live performances.


Date: 09/15/2004 09:23:41 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no... but I think opera and classical music demand the audience to do 'homework' before listening. one should not 'dumb down' music and show its true colours.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

renee can sing anything... as long as the music speaks to her... if there is no 'frisson' there is no music

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
oh Gawd... i can write a book about this LOL
it is endangered because the north american education and culture has not embraced it like in other parts of the world. Will classic written literature an emdangered art form? or Shakespearean plays? They will never be endangered because the school system embraced them...
So 3 words to save classical music... education education education :)


Date: 09/14/2004 09:40:25 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think that it is but yet it isn't. Opera and classical music takes a lot of hard work and discipline, as technique and performance is the focus. Because of the intensive training that classical musicians need to go through it pushes them to be the best in their field of work. But I do know that classical music can be appreciated and studied and enjoyed by those that are not part of the elite classical musician category.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I rather enjoy listening to the popular music because it shows the diversity of her musical talents. Musicians are to be well rounded and when we focus simply on one form of music we tend to be less well rounded than if we had explored different musical options.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think that especially in North America classical music and Opera are becoming more and more unfamiliar and disliked by the younger generation. Many people do not understand and appreciate Classical music and Opera because they do not understand the training and the level of difficulty that goes into it.


Date: 09/01/2004 09:41:12 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I would guess that it probably is since most people (at least in the U.S.) who listen are in the upper income levels. Most people who attend events are probably in the upper income limits (it's quite expensive). I think it can appeal to a wide audience if they get the chance to hear it. Generally, it doesn't seem like the average citizen gets the opportunity to hear opera or classical music because they are inundated with pop music and are never exposed to the beauty of the classics. A shame, because it is most beautiful.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Love to hear it. Her voice is beautiful and if she were to sing pop music, more people would get the chance to hear her and might be intrigued enough to seek out other music where her voice could be heard.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes both types are heard less often and with schools dropping their music programs, more children will not be exposed to classical music at all.


Name: John Heer
Profession: retail management
Date: 08/26/2004 09:12:42 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee has woked hard to develop her magnificent voice, and I would hope she will continue to sing works that are worthy of her extrordinary talent. Pop musicians are a dime a dozen, while Renee is a once in a life time gift.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not as long as there is someone like Renee to keep it alive.


Date: 08/10/2004 12:44:31 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No - I think it is more accessable than people realize.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It depends... "Popular" in what sense? I heard her in concert and she sang a few Musical Theatre pieces and I enjoyed them just as much as the art songs and arias. But, if she suddenly broke out singing "Hit Me Baby One More Time," I think I would fall out of my seat laughing! ;o)
But, in all seriousness, I have heard Kiri Te Kanawa sing 70's-ish type music and musical theatre on a CD from when she was young, and it was really interesting to hear the difference and I enjoyed it all the same.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes and No. I think the lack of appeal is just fear of the unknown and a LOT of misconceptions. I find, a majority of the time, when someone is exposed to it and actually find out what it is all about, they really enjoy it.

Endangered? Not really. I actually think it is at its peak with all of the resources available today. I do, however, think that singers are being treated more like a commodity and the singing profession has turned into a business, and with that, a lot of the artistry is being lossed.


Name: Ryan George Morris
Profession: eleventh grade student
Date: 07/30/2004 08:13:40 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think Renee should follow her heart and try what she would like to try. (although I adore her renditions of Italian opera and song)

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think all things as beautiful and refined as "Classical" and Opera will live forever in the hearts of those who recognize beauty.


Date: 07/30/2004 08:13:17 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think Renee should follow her heart and try what she would like to try. (although I adore her renditions of Italian opera and song)

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think all things as beautiful and refined as "Classical" and Opera will live forever in the hearts of those who recognize beauty.


Name: Kelli Pierce
Profession: Student
Date: 07/28/2004 01:28:04 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think that Opera is an art form that is so magnificent that it touches the souls of all people. It certainly appeals to the elitist, but can also move the heart of any common person as well. It is a form of art and art is not meant solely for the elite. Art is meant to grace the lives of all people.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I believe that no matter what a singer's forte is, she should always pursue every aspect of her passion. If she wishes to sing popular music then so be it. Music is about love and passion and happiness and should be pursued as such.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think that both are endangered. The art of classical music is no longer appreciated like it was. It is no longer the dominant musical genre and it shows in our society. Fortunately, there are still so many who adore and can't live without it.


Name: Me
Profession: al;sdfj
Date: 07/22/2004 05:02:53 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
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How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

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Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
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Name: David Richie
Profession: attorney
Date: 07/19/2004 06:46:26 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
"No" (If "elitist" is bad.)

"Yes" (If "elitist" is good)

"What's 'elitist' mean?

So you see, the question is meaningless because "elitist" can mean anything. If it means poor people with no education do not deserve to enjoy it, then obviousliy Opera/Classical is not elitist. If it means Opera/Classical demands OF THE PERFORMER and elicits from her/her more god-given talent, generosity of spirit, communicative ability, selfless intensity, dedication, brains, guts and ambition than any other musical art forms, then Opera/Classical is elitist.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Stick to the classics and perfect her art in the opera house where she belongs.

Not every classcial artist has to do crossover and there are plenty of pop singers who sing pop music better.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, thanks to TV and the mass media, who have done the following:

1. shortened the audience's attention span
2. trained the audience to think car chases, explosions and loud noises are art, and destroyed any apprciation for subltety
3. destroyed the audience's appreciation for sound and turned the modern world into a "visual" society.
4. frightened the music educators with charges of "elitism" so that they no longer teach that classical music is GREAT.
5. loaded pop "artists" with so much special effects that the public can't tell what's real and what's fake anymore.


Name: Douglas Sumi
Profession: Music Student
Date: 06/14/2004 02:34:55 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, it is quite challenging and formal, but not elitist. Anyone who desires to become more informed and involved with such arts has the opportunities to do so. Renee seems so down to earth that opera is not viewed as an elitist art form.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love it, it shows strength in variety. It also is probably pleasing for Renee, considering nobody likes just opera. She has such amazing techniques, that she can sings whatever she wants.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, and no. Yes, because the typical student, who I seemed to be around all to often, is not brought up with exposure to western art music. No, because there are so many young amazing talented musicians with a bright future ahead of them in the performing arts. Opera seems to be an aquired musical taste after one has had exposure to the world of western art music.


Name: Francois Juteau
Profession: Internet web development
Date: 06/07/2004 05:20:47 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
NO, not at all.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I prefer Renée in serious opera. Her talent is somewhat wasted in popular selections. Leave that to lesser singers, there are plenty !

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, absolutely not. Opera has never been as pupular as now. There are opera houses everywhere and recordings of about any valuable opera that has been ever written.


Date: 05/17/2004 09:52:04 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. Of course not. Unlike the older days when there was no recordings of artists, there are CDs in the market now, and if you can't afford to go to a recital or an opera, you can listen to the CD at home.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that if she wants to, she should experiment with different types of music. Although I would like her to work more on the classical field and expand her repretoire.
And I like Renée performing jazz or broadway. The CD 'Under the Stars' with Bryn Terfel was excellent, and I would love to hear her sing more of broadway.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No. Because there are still lots of classical music lovers around. Although people say that the amount of talent in the opera field has decreased since the golden years,I dissagree. There are big talents like Renée Fleming, Barbara Bonney, Cecelia Bartoli, etc.


Date: 05/07/2004 07:31:41 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Absolutley not. The artists that are gifted with the ability to perform timeless classics, with perfection, are so special and rare; I believe that anyone who hears their music can, and will be touched by it's awesome beauty.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think Renee has the talent to sing any style she wants to. I also believe that she can discriminate and select music that her voice can enhance. I am, however, thrilled when she performs those classical pieces that only a few women on earth can sing.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, because there will always be people who appreciate the talents and gifts that are necessary to perform these beautiful works of art.


Date: 05/07/2004 04:30:26 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. I believe in music for everyone. We all should learn to appreciate all forms of music.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think her extension into pop music is a fabulous artistic and "business" choice. She will prove to those that know her classical work that she is not just an opera diva and she will attract other audiences that may not have listened to her sing opera. By attracting a wider audience base she will also work to prevent the dying out of Opera.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical music does not worry me; opera does. I fear that not enough people understand it and therefore they reject it. If more were educated about opera then it would be more universally accepted.


Date: 05/07/2004 01:49:30 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. I have no idea why so many people have such difficulty appreciating it. I enjoy many, many styles of music, and they each enrich my life in different ways.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Please do release popular music you enjoy. It would be a pleasure to hear your interests.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not as long as we support new artists.


Name: Terry Oldes
Profession: accountant
Date: 05/07/2004 12:32:49 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes, for the most part. Simply because of the way it is marketed and the expense of going to the opera. It scares people off that aren't exposed to it or don't have the funds.

However, it doesn't have to be, look at the popularity of Boccelli or the 3 tenors with blue collar workers. Music makes people feel, no matter what their backgrounds are, and if you hear Puccini your heart and gut jump to it, not your pocketbook or intellectual background. I just think opera and classical music need to be more accessible to the general public. I see many people go to the Lyric simply because it's the "in" thing to do.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee is one of the only opera singers I have heard that can succesfully sing jazz or pop and make it her own and "fit" into the genre. I would love to hear her do more of it. The pop pieces are always eagerly anticipated by myself and friends at her concerts. When singing Over the Rainbow at orchestra hall in Chicago, she made it her own. A friend of mine went with me and she said, "I've never liked anyone but Judy singing that song, but Renee did it her own way and it was fantastic!"

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, I don't think it is endangered of disappearing, but new pieces certainly are few and far between. I'm getting very tired of the same warhorses being pulled out for the public.


Date: 05/07/2004 03:19:09 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, but I do think that its an aquired taste for lots of people

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Leave the pop to the popsters

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
A minority taste is always endangered & thus must remain vibrant


Date: 05/07/2004 12:15:17 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
yES

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I THINK SHE SHOULD STICK TO WHAT SHE IS DOING RIGHT NOW. MANY SINGERS ARE TRYING TO DO POPULAR MUSIC AND THAT DOES NOT SEEM RIGHT. YOU HAVE PAVORATTI WHO CAME OUT WITH HIS ALBUM TI ADORO IS IS OKAY BUT I WOULD RATHER LISTEN TO WHAT THEY WERE MEANT TO SING FIRST.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
NO


Name: Sue Adie
Profession: Medical P.A.
Date: 05/06/2004 09:15:39 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, and certainly in the UK more and more people are listening and appreciating both opera and classical music.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I get more tingle factor from her operatic work, but also enjoy popular music sung sooo well.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do not feel classical music is endangered, as borne out by the attendances at all concerts. I feel work is being done extensively to make opera accessible to more people, who may have hitherto had little exposure.


Date: 05/05/2004 11:34:58 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, I do not.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

There is nothing wrong with Renée singing popular music, as she sings it so well. If classical music is to shed its "elitist" label, it's adherents must reach out to those who are more familiar with other media. And, lest we forget, in earlier days Operas WERE the popular music of their time.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think neither classical music nor Opera is an endangered art forms. They are, however, not immutable. As arts, they adopt new ideas and adapt to changing times.


Name: susan rathmell
Profession: piamo professor
Date: 05/05/2004 10:47:20 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
to some extent, yes

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I prefer classical, but she's free to do what she feels suits her best

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
absolutely not!


Date: 05/04/2004 05:24:48 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Opera----yes. I love opera but it portrays itself as an art form for only those who "appreciate/understand" opera. Very sad but self-inflicted. (From someone who has opera soloists as friends)
Classical music----not so much. But many of its afficionados deplore the "dumming" down by radio programmes such as Classic FM, which in my opinion has brought "classical" music, whatever that is, to millions.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Fine by me as long as she sticks to music that will show the quality and range of her voice.
Very difficult balance to achieve when one hears the "three tenors" murder some songs they should never attempt.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical Music----no.
Opera----yes. Needs to come down to earth.


Name: Dennis Wilkerson
Profession: Television Producer
Date: 05/04/2004 01:46:18 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think it's perceived by the general public that way but shouldn't be.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think any artist should explore their interest in music no matter the genre. Ms. Fleming's voice lends itself to popular music and I would like to hear her perform some popular selections.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, unfortunately, with music being cut out of school programs and a society that thinks that classical music is uncool I do feel that both opera and classical music is on the endangered list.


Date: 05/04/2004 09:21:13 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Personally, I like it. (and I would like to do more myself but I always sound somewhat rediculous...it's good to hear someone with great technique do it well, so we can all learn from it.)

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think Opera will last, but art song is a bit endangered. I think song for art sake has a harder time appealing to the masses.


Date: 05/03/2004 10:06:14 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes I do. However, it does not have to be so, but I believe it should stay this way. Opera is just another genres, and, depending on where the emphsis is put, every kidn of music has its own elite - rap, hip-hop, country. So, it's all a matter of how one asks the question.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I do now really like Ms Fleming singing popular music, but I think cross genres can be fruitful for the general development within music itself.
I do believe that, given her talent and popularity, she should try and popularize more unknown pieces (in the veine of what Cecilia Bartoli does).

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I believe Classical Music is endangered in terms of the global market dictating what music should be played and recorded.


Date: 05/03/2004 03:33:34 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, but the way it is offered and the cost make it unavailable to many people

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I listen for her voice. If the song works with the voice, I am happy.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Neither, but opera must be simplified to reduce the cost of the performances


Date: 05/03/2004 09:00:28 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. God knows I would never be mistaken for an elitist!!!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would enjoy anything she would sing. I think she would do a great job with popular songs.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I believe that both will always have a strong following. However, getting a wider audience, mainly from younger people, will be critical to ensuing its continued growth.


Name: M. Scully
Date: 05/02/2004 05:34:14 AM


Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/der_juedische_kaiser_von_atlantis

or

http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/archives20040101.shtml#66076

Not long ago I was having dinner with some reasonably substantial people in the orchestra world. And as often happens when people inside the business get to know me, the conversation turned to critics. Why, I’m regularly asked, do critics…and here we can fill in the blank with whatever odd behavior some critic recently exhibited. (Though the question people really want to ask is a lot simpler, and eventually they get around to it: Why don’t critics know how the music business works?)



This time, though, my dinner partners wanted to ask something much more dangerous. Why, they asked, do critics so often and so strongly praise a musician widely said to be a pedophile? Though “widely said,” in this context, isn’t putting the case strongly enough. This musician is an international celebrity, one of the most famous names in the business. He’s wildly popular in New York and elsewhere, and has worked for years with one of the most powerful institutions in classical music.



And yet people in the business don’t just whisper rumors that he’s a pedophile. They take for granted that he is, and that his pedophilia takes especially disgusting forms. This man forces himself on boys, people confidently state. He’s been arrested for it, they add, and on more than one occasion has been bought out of trouble, allegedly with enormous sums of money. Since everybody knows this, my dinner companions asked, why do critics (especially in his home city) so strongly praise the man? Shouldn’t they deplore him and expose him?



This question was asked very seriously, with a lot of moral fervor. I had to explain that neither I nor my critic colleagues -- or, for that matter, my dinner companions -- have any evidence for all these charges. We don’t know the dates or places of the supposed events, or the names of anyone involved. In all my years in the business, despite all the conversations I've had on this subject, I’ve never spoken to anyone with firsthand knowledge of these things, or even to anyone who claimed to know someone with firsthand knowledge.



That puts a journalist in a tough position. You can’t just write a story saying, “X is a pedophile -- everybody says so.” You have to name your sources, and show where they got their information. You need hard facts -- documentary evidence (arrest records, perhaps), or else eyewitness reports from people who’ll let you print, with their names attached, that they saw something -- saw a child molested, saw the musician in police custody, know the parents of a molested child, once worked for a corporate CEO who ended one of these affairs with money, and who once came into the office and indiscreetly said, “I just paid $5 million to get charges dropped against X. Don’t tell anyone!”



This wouldn’t be easy; to find these sources (if they could be found at all) might take months of work, and even then you might never persuade them to speak on the record. It’s no wonder no music journalist has written this story.



And yet I think it could be written, by someone who isn't a music journalist, but instead is an experienced investigative reporter. We're not talking here about military secrets; if these things really happened, eventually somebody will talk. I don't claim to have much investigative experience, but I might start with a major orchestra that not too long ago considered this musician for an important job. (With what result I won’t say.) Some board members were said to oppose the appointment on moral grounds. I could call each member of the board, in search of someone so outraged that he or she might talk. (And then, of course, there are staff and board members, past and present, from everywhere this musician has already worked; employees, past and present, of his management; and, if we learned the place where any of the alleged events had happened, the police department wherever that might be).



But even without a full investigative study, here's a question worth asking. Never, in all my years in this business, have I talked about all this with anyone who thinks the stories aren’t true. Why, then, do we treat this musician with such respect? If we praise his performances, why don’t we do it with reserve? How can we support him for major appointments, as many of us have done? Including me, I have to say; I need to rethink my own behavior, just as much as anybody else.



One thing at stake here is classical music’s credibility; our need, which I think is very urgent, to show we live in the same world as everybody else. So enough with the artistic piety, the pretense of loftiness, the wish to be judged by higher standards than those of everyday life. Which is more important -- the glory of classical music, or the safety of our children?


Name: Lawrence Landis
Profession: technical writer
Date: 05/01/2004 10:08:20 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Absolutely NOT, though it's often perceived as such. Especially in this day of being submerged in an tsunami of "data" and constant emphasis on our left brains, we need - more than ever - the relief that opera and classical music bring to our right brains. Otherwise, we get out of balance - and eventually, on both a personal and societal level - go a little bit crazy.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Her "Alcina" may be the finest thing ever recorded, but I would certainly not be adverse to hearing her do some jazz.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Both are, and probably always will be. But that doesn't mean they aren't worthy of our support, individually and as a society. Asking everyone to love them is, of course, impossible.


Name: E J Michel
Date: 05/01/2004 06:39:39 AM


How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

This is my fav clip in that long but perceptive rant.

[About the GRAMMY®-winning but not-so-new DECCA ---COCKSUCKER BLUES---
, we have read fluff like "A New F-i-r-s-t L-a-d-y of Bel Canto -
Renée Fleming very nearly manages to shake the insistent ghost of
Maria Callas." (see "http://www.andante.com") --- But we are neither
deaf nor naïve nor stupid. You see, n-e-v-e-r e-v-e-r f-o-r-g-e-t,
we insist, that sopranos of the caliber of Cheryl [Studer] and Maria [Callas] (to name
but two), frayed of voice and heart or not, n-e-v-e-r e-v-e-r s-t-o-o-
p-e-d this low (below the navel) in the style department. But after
all, the new product (foreplayed in a studio some years ago but not
ejaculated for another 2 or 3) is being cart-wheeled under a neon
sign that reads "bel canto" (yes, in lowercase and with the 'b'
dangling), complete with a $2 rebate incentive b-e-l-o-w its already
reduced repo artistic value - ya know, in the manner of the stereo-
typical toupéed and polyester-clad used-car salesman – breathy,
cajoling, cheap, cheesy, insincere, sleazy, slimy, slippery, sticky --
in that order – and that's the singing -- a raw deal -- a lemon. Hard
to swallow, ain't it?]

It says it all. Ouch!


Date: 05/01/2004 02:52:06 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I feel she is stylistically mismatched in popular music, and definitely sound stick with serious music. One downfall I have noticed are "jazz" and "pop" inflections in her opera singing, and that is a detriment to her great artistry.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
We all know that technically, there are more people attending opera now than ever. However, opera companies themselves could go alot further to promote the art form to younger audiences and make it see less elitist or old fashioned.


Name: paolo
Date: 04/30/2004 05:09:54 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
A Community Outreach Initiative, Addendum to Part I

----------------------------

"In life, democracy.
In art, aristocracy."

--- Arturo Toscanini

----------------------------

3C. How exactly is naXos alleviating the crisis of overcrowding and
confusion among consumers? In opera titles alone, they have recorded
yet a-n-e-w: Boheme, Fidelio, Butterfly, Tosca, Flying Dutchman,
Barber of Seville, Aida, Rigoletto, Magic Flute, and on and on and
on. Correct us if we are wrong, but these bread and butter works were
not lacking in existing documentation, whether historical or not,
hysterical or not, distinguished or not, low end or not. And the
combined sad efforts from naXos simply do not measure up. Why pay
less, then, when you can get better and more for twice the price?


Name: paolo
Date: 04/30/2004 04:58:33 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
A Community Outreach Initiative, Part I

----------------------------

"In life, democracy.
In art, aristocracy."

--- Arturo Toscanini

----------------------------

"¿Cómo se siente? ¿Cómo se siente ver que el horror estalla en tu
patio y no en el living del vecino? ¿Cómo se siente el miedo
apretando tu pecho, el pánico que provocan el ruido ensordecedor, las
llamas sin control, los edificios que se derrumban, ese terrible olor
que se mete hasta el fondo en los pulmones, los ojos de los inocentes
que caminan cubiertos de sangre y polvo?

¿Cómo se vive por un día en tu propia casa la incertidumbre de lo que
va a pasar? ¿Cómo se sale del estado de shock? En estado de shock
caminaban el 6 de agosto de 1945 los sobrevivientes de Hiroshima.
Nada quedaba en pie en la ciudad luego que el artillero
norteamericano del Enola Gay dejara caer la bomba. En pocos segundos
habían muerto 80.000 hombres, mujeres y niños. Otros 250.000 morirían
en los años siguientes a causa de las radiaciones. Pero ésa era una
guerra lejana y ni siquiera existía la televisión.

¿Cómo se siente hoy el horror cuando las terribles imágenes de la
televisión te dicen que lo ocurrido el fatídico 11 de septiembre no
pasó en una tierra lejana sino en tu propia patria? Otro 11 de
septiembre, pero de 28 años atrás, había muerto un presidente de
nombre Salvador Allende resistiendo un golpe de Estado que tus
gobernantes habían planeado. También fueron tiempos de horror, pero
eso pasaba muy lejos de tu frontera, en una ignota republiqueta
sudamericana. Las republiquetas estaban en tu patio trasero y nunca
te preocupaste mucho cuando tus marines salían a sangre y fuego a
imponer sus puntos de vista.

¿Sabías que entre 1824 y 1994 tu país llevó a cabo 73 invasiones a
países de América Latina? Las víctimas fueron Puerto Rico, México,
Nicaragua, Panamá, Haití, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, República
Dominicana, Islas Vírgenes, El Salvador, Guatemala y Granada.

Hace casi un siglo que tus gobernantes están en guerra. Desde el
comienzo del siglo XX, casi no hubo una guerra en el mundo en que la
gente de tu Pentágono no hubiera participado. Claro, las bombas
siempre explotaron fuera de tu territorio, con excepción de Pearl
Harbor cuando la aviación japonesa bombardeó la Séptima Flota en
1941. Pero siempre el horror estuvo lejos.

Cuando las Torres Gemelas se vinieron abajo en medio del polvo,
cuando viste las imágenes por televisión o escuchaste los gritos
porque estabas esa mañana en Manhattan, ¿pensaste por un Segundo en
lo que sintieron los campesinos de Vietnam durante muchos años? En
Manhattan, la gente caía desde las alturas de los rascacielos como
trágicas marionetas. En Vietnam, la gente daba alaridos porque el
napalm seguía quemando la carne por mucho tiempo y la muerte era
espantosa, tanto como las de quienes caían en un salto desesperado al
vacío. Tu aviación no dejó una fábrica en pie ni un puente sin
destruir en Yugoslavia. En Irak fueron 500.000 los muertos. Medio
millón de almas se llevó la Operación Tormenta del Desierto...¿Cuánta
gente desangrada en lugares tan exóticos y lejanos como Vietnam,
Irak, Irán, Afganistán, Libia, Angola, Somalia, Congo, Nicaragua,
Dominicana, Camboya, Yugoslavia, Sudán, y una lista interminable? En
todos esos lugares los proyectiles habían sido fabricados en
factorías de tu país, y eran apuntados por tus muchachos, por gente
pagada por tu Departamento de Estado, y sólo para que tu pudieras
seguir gozando de la forma de vida americana.

Hace casi un siglo que tu país está en guerra con todo el mundo.
Curiosamente, tus gobernantes lanzan los jinetes del Apocalipsis en
nombre de la libertad y de la democracia. Pero debes saber que para
muchos pueblos del mundo (en este planeta donde cada día mueren
24.000 pobladores por hambre o enfermedades curables), Estados Unidos
no representa la libertad, sino un enemigo lejano y Terrible que sólo
siembra guerra, hambre, miedo y destrucción. Siempre han sido
conflictos bélicos lejanos para ti, pero para quienes viven allá es
una dolorosa realidad cercana, una guerra donde los edificios se
desploman bajo las bombas y donde esa gente encuentra una muerte
horrible. Y las víctimas han sido, en el 90 por ciento, civiles,
mujeres, ancianos, niños efectos colaterales.

¿Qué se siente cuando el horror golpea a tu puerta aunque sea por un
sólo día? ¿Qué se piensa cuando las víctimas en Nueva York son
secretarias, operadores de bolsa o empleados de limpieza que pagaban
puntualmente sus impuestos y nunca mataron una mosca?

¿Cómo se siente el miedo? ¿Cómo se siente, yanqui, saber que la larga
guerra finalmente el 11 de septiembre llegó a tu casa?"

--- Gabriel García Márquez to Puppet Bush, Jr.

----------------------------

On 26 September 2000, the so-called great Mickey (Mouse) "I-have-not-
attended-a-performance-in-fifteen-years" (
http://listserv.cuny.edu/Scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0309B&L=opera-
l&P=R13279&D=0&H=0&I=-3&O=T&T=1
)
Richter performed a 'plug-in', heroically and by proxy, on behalf of
Klaus Heymann, the so-called authority behind ---naXos---:

{{ Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 21:40:41 -0700
Reply-To: Mike Richter
Sender: Discussion of opera and related issues L@L...>
From: Mike Richter
Subject: Authoritative word on naXos' methods
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed

The following comments are from Klaus Heymann, the force behind naXos
and other labels, to our posts on their approach to recording opera.

> Mike Richter wrote in response to Bob Kosovsky's post

[Bob Kosovsky of CUNY's Opera-L: Homosexual, Jew, Liberal,
Librarian, and – would you believe it? – Censor]

>>Since the naXos label is being lauded by some as forecasting a
future path of opera, I have a question. I know several people who
have participated in naXos recordings of chamber music. All of them
have been paid a one-time-only fee, and have ceded the right to
royalties. Does this kind of contract also apply to naXos's
recordings of vocalists in operas or recitals? (I hate to think that
Ewa Podles doesn't get anything more than her initial fee for that
Rossini recital of hers, naXos 8.553543.)

### Yes, singers are also paid a flat fee. Ewa Podles is very happy
with her Rossini ... she would like to do more recitals but the cost
of recording her with orchestra and chorus is prohibitive ... we
still haven't recouped our investment in this recording. ###

>>It sounds a bit exploitative to me, IMO. On the other hand, my not-
yet-famous acquaintances jump at the chance to record for them. (They
are allowed only two or three takes, with no chance of fancy editing
to correct mistakes.)

### Most singers understand that recording opera is extremely
expensive, especially under our perfect studio (not live) conditions
and are happy with our modest flat fees. Look at our Fidelio cast!
The bit about being allowed only two or three takes and no chance of
fancy editing is nonsense ... artists are allow as many takes as
necessary to get the music right. However, having said that, we
expect our artists to be well prepared unlike many big-name artists
who rely on the producer and editor to produce a good performance.
###

>>So I'm curious to hear whether vocalists are also bound to such
contracts. I believe you have it right. My understanding is that
Klaus and his people search the globe for artists and groups who
merit the exposure and are doing (or are able to do) the works he
wants to include in his catalogue. By providing one-time fees - often
of critical importance to such artists - and exposure, naXos both
benefits the artists and produces high-quality, inexpensive
programming. There may be exceptions in which royalties are offered,
but that does not appear to be the rule. Of course, limiting studio
time also contains costs.

### We do not limit studio costs but our producer have the authority
to send poorly prepared artists home. ###

>>The other major factor in naXos and its related labels keeping
prices down is that they give up much of the promotion the more
famous marks employ. Since the recordings are focussed on the music
and there are seldom acknowledged "stars", stellar advertising and
displays are unnecessary. It is a different approach to marketing and
seems so far to have been a most successful one.

Mike

Best regards,

Klaus

*********************
(My apologies for the confusion in indenting of Bob's original post,
my reply and Klaus's.)

Mike

mrichter@c...
Opera: http://mrichter.simplenet.com/
CD-R: http://resource.simplenet.com/ }}


End of quote

----------------------------

Thus spoke the authority. We re-quote:

"Most singers understand that recording opera is extremely expensive,
especially under our perfect studio (not live) conditions and are
happy with our modest flat fees. Look at our Fidelio cast! The bit
about being allowed only two or three takes and no chance of fancy
editing is nonsense ... artists are allowed as many takes as
necessary to get the music right. However, having said that, we
expect our artists to be well prepared unlike many big-name artists
who rely on the producer and editor to produce a good performance."

We ask:

1. Mr. Heymann seems to have contradicted himself by simultaneously
affirming that his artists are indeed allowed "fancy editing...to get
the music right" while ranting against the "many big-name artists who
rely on the producer and editor to produce a good performance." What
exactly is the difference? Isn't fancy editing what earns producers
and editors their bacon, be it at naXos or Lucifer Classics? Or is
Mr. Heymann whining and bickering because Lucifer's console is (or
rather, was) bigger than his?

2. Mr. Heymann seems to have fallen prey to the epidemic virus of
unfounded critical prejudice and the politics of defamation and
character-assassination (the rate of infection appears to be
abnormally high within the familial fraternity of
American/Anglosaxon/Anglophile critical bedfellows). His words can be
easily formulized: "Big Name + Big Label = Little Music (or
Falsity)". No need to state the converse but we'll do it
anyway: "Little/No Name + Little Label = Big Music (or Truth)". Who
exactly are these many unprepared big names? And how, where, and
when?

3. A few years back, the authority was also quoted in "The Boston
Globe" - this other 'plug-in-by-proxy' courtesy of CareerHomo-turned-
critic-turned-promoter Richard "local church mice are world-class
people too" Dyer. Lately, Dyer has been heard advocating for the
equal part Charity/Chimpanzee Acts that are The Three Mo' Tenors,
Andrea "Dunkin' Donuts" Bocelli, Charlotte Church, Josh "popera boy"
Groban, and Pavarotti's latest pop dreck.

[What is going on?]

["Maestros of the Pen: A History of Classical Music Criticism in
America", by Mark N. Grant, Northeastern University Press, 1998, ISBN
1-55553-363-9: n-o-t o-n-e f-o-o-t-n-o-t-e *not one* on Dyer ---
and this after a 25+year career behind him dedicated to latter-day
Anglo+Judeo+Homo-centric bitchery, dishonesty, and hypocrisy. And
just as long dedicated to sobbing after the footnote (but no
reference), indeed, that was one Lucine Amara.]

But back to the authority:

"The market is shifting away from name artists, and the average music
lover is confused by bins crowded by recordings. What is the
difference between Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado and Riccardo Chailly
in a given piece? Whatever the difference is, it doesn't mean
anything to the average music lover who gives up and chooses our
recording because it is more reasonably priced, and the performance
is just as good. It is an absurdity for Plácido Domingo to sing 'The
Barber of Seville'; our recording is a better performance of the
opera. If Cheryl Studer were to come to me and ask to sing some of
the operas she has recorded, I wouldn't let her." {Author: Richard
Dyer / Date: 19.01.1994 / Page: 61 / Section: Living Arts}

We comment and ask:

3A. Funny but we bet that the suits at Lucifer Classics swear t-h-e-
i-r barber gives a better haircut. Not that some of us (not nearly
enough) give a one-night-stand about Sir Domingo, at least not since
his early 90s (and thereafter) publicity and musical circus
prostitutions – this case of gonorrhea is treatable no longer.

3B. Let us cut to the chase: we propose that one encompassing reason
for the present-day crisis in this wasteland is that the ever-so-
important anecdotal and testimonial lore and the ensuing
language/narrative about the live stage experiences a-n-d about the
documented legacies of certain important big-names (those immediately
preceding the generation of today's Ass-ociated Press "A List")
literally fell through a g-e-n-e-r-a-t-i-o-n-a-l and c-u-l-t-u-r-a-l
c-r-a-c-k - an abyss, really. Little or nothing was said. In
retrospect, a lot of people in this abortion-gone-bad of a business
(a system that, with escalating aggression, knows the price of
everything and the value of nothing --- a business
that throws the baby, the bathwater, and the mother) have a lot of
answering to do. Observe in comparison, if you will, how today's
desperate and thus general(ised) press a-n-d the chintzy, natty
queens (old and new, male and female) write about an integer to the
far left of zero (if that) such as one Ruth Ann Swenson or, for
example, Tibor Rudas' Third(rate, if that) Soprano and division by
zero (if that), one other Kallen Esperian. Simply impossible to
believe... but sadly true. And this is the flip side of the same coin
--- and a penny it is --- that places the 70+-year-old-Renata-Scotto-
who-made-her-debut-in-1952-or-three-years-before-Cheryl-was-conceived-
and-who-is-still-in-her-prime-and-getting-better-and-who-should-have-
many-of-us-wondering-what-has-she-done-in-20-years on the cover
of "Opernglas," March 2003. Or the other septuagenarian Montserrat
Caballé, a has-been-but-getting-better-and-still-interesting-yes?, on
the cover of "Opernwelt," April 2003. Or the penny that pays for
space about Leontyne Price's tremendously important, yes?,
Meisterclass in "The Financial Times" (albeit bankrupt and then some)
(see "Bernheimer, Martin"). Or the outrageously dumbo piece in "Opera
News" (keeping up with their recent tradition) by one "Siff, Ira"
(who ought to know better) on the significant-other of
soupy-pop-ballads-Duetto infamy, blue-collar teddy bear Salvatore
Licitra – why yes, the twofer even made it to the cover of
"Opernglas," October 2003. And a penny it is. And a penny it will be.

In the realm of opera, this previous generation came "too soon" after
the Marias and the Renatas and the Joans and the Montserrats and the
Vickys and the Mirellas and the Regines and the whoevers....and "too
late" for today's democratic free-für-Alles (think of the
deregulation of the airline industry in the U.S.A. - surely it is
cheaper to fly and with more options but the experience is ghastly –
and look now, they is droppin' like flies) in deadly mix with the
quick fixes and seductions of HyperPublicRelations and HyperText. Few
artists can survive without some form or other of critical and
popular encouragement. It became fashionable sport (nah, Mob Rule -
nah, Olympics --- but becuz this singular marathon has and is being
run by throngs-oh-so-bright, we have to coin it The Special Olympics)
for too influential but equally ignorant, tin-eared and incredibly,
corrosively partial critics (and their bedroom partners) to dismiss
these artists' work faster than they could say Compact Disc (and
worse: to fully ignore too – consider the phenomenon, consider the
indignity, consider the abuse, consider the calamity, consider the
chicanery, consider the betrayal that is the Remarkable Eclipsing and
Banishment by the press (we know of no greater form of disrespect) of
a certain v-e-t-e-r-a-n
and c-o-n-t-e-m-p-o-r-a-n-e-o-u-s soprano whose stage appearances
are pre-judged to be just that: Appearances: Phantom Ships In The
Night, when noticed ---- or to fully d-e-n-y the usual "critical
anal(ysis)" - is that what it is? - accorded dimmer lights ("Monsieur
Giordani could not sustain pitch b-u-t the Sicilian understanding"
[by coincidence, the same understanding which, according to the
experts, eludes fellow Southerner Riccardo Muti] - "Madame Phlegming
[no other soprano before or during Renée is known to have "taken
chances"] shrieked unnaturally, gurgling and flatting two high A
naturals and her overall intonation was insecure too b-u-t all that
(jazzy) rhythmic integrity!" (see "Tommasini, Anthony" --- and yet,
you will look in vain for his promotional write-up on that
Verdi "Blanche Dubois" from Houston - *after* the event, that is) –
"Hausfrau Void was in customary shrill and squally voice again last
night and her top sounded tired, though no fault of her own, b-u-t
her sofa scene was comfortably moving --- that Svelte Lil' Debbie
didn't make that final F-sharp is none of your business." - "Irish-
American AFL-CIO Heroine Flanigan [who, by the by, tries (and is
carded) to "sing everything"] [no other soprano before or during
Lauren is known to have "taken chances"] could not sing Reiza's music
[not that she can sing anything, mind you][she replaced DeVoid, who
had also cancelled all engagements in Vienna, and for the 2nd season
in a row - not a bad thing when you try to remember – and try you
must - those Scheiße AIDAs at the MET where Crayola connected them
dots and none of the music - not to mention the brutal stupor that
were Luciano "snotty handkerchief" Pavarotti and the ever-
accomodating, yes? James "sweaty towel" Levine] b-u-t the visceral
ennui of it all") - "Madame Shout squalled
an Elektra consistently below pitch (that's about 75% of your
evening) b-u-t it seems that the excitement of some level or other of
on-pitch faithfulness to and by die Juden and a few silent-movie camp
gestures secured her an unqualified triumph...and an onstage kiss too
from Jimmy Boy (or rather, Jimmy the boy-paedophile - ladies and
gentlemen, you too can have it all: from orchestras in Munich,
Boston, and naturally New York to standing Os to gushing press
coverage to paid Christian holidays to state-sanctioned murder to
state-sanctioned looting to Presidential Pardons (see "Rich,
Jonathan" - see "The Hassidic4 [that's right, not one not two not
three]" - see "Hillary 'some of my relatives are Jews' Clinton" and
the race for the NY State Senate....provided you are "one of us"
or "with us") --- but for how much longer? ....well, all that plus
Gaby is getting better and better and better, yes?" - "Madame Attila
spreads her top like butter on warm bread b-u-t her cool, Nordic,
blonde looks carried the night [our bladders burst open when trying
to reconcile the paradox that is the pre(and post)occupation with
Aryan archetypes by these duplicitous pseudo-minorities in the
industry (you know who and what you are), habitually the first to cry
wolf at the whiff of perceived or real prejudice] --- and more
importantly, she took off her shoes! (but what we'd really like to
know is: what language was *that*, Querida?)" – "Debbie 'Crayola
Opera Program' Void's French (not unlike the strangely clapped Yawn
Upshaw's) and any language other than the Dixie Chicks is for and
about pigeons --- merde --- [Crayola's sour and rusty tonal quality,
let alone her musical probity, are more reminiscent of the gold you
see in soiled underwear than of the Golden Age, by far...and worse:
as stupid as the laundry water you soak and scrub it in] b-u-t
her 'major' contributions to Culture are 'consistent.' --- or is it
the other way 'round? --- B-u-t why give a hoot about such things,
what with all that `Junoesque rhythmic integrity'! (see "Tommasini,
Anthony" – yes, the promoter used that again [as in Renée Fleming] to
sell his Debbie)" - "The consensus that Madame Shorties could not
really sing Konstanze is questionable and, in the end, unfair for she
is a gifted, six-foot taller......b-u-t more importantly, her name is
not Cheryl Studer." - "Monsieur Hiccup proved once more that you can
crack loud and wide before a Manhattan audience of tourists as long
as your name is not Cheryl Studer; b-u-t even better than that, the
loss of 95-plus pounds, in cocktail with a widely broadcast Sob
Story, are sufficient to satisfy the most discriminating thirst of
the-below-IQ-of-47.5 (that's-50%-of-something-or-other-to-you)-and-
minus-set and anyday's coverage of the Arts in "The New York Times"" -
"Maestrisssssimo of Legend, Gilbert "Lego Blocks" Kaplan, swears he
can conduct but one piece of music and one piece of music alone b-u-
t, as one of "our chauvinistic own", full coverage by "The New York
Times" is fully warranted - all that plus a recording medal from the
syphilitic Deutsche Grammophon" – "The authentically FRENCH LetItRain
sounded anonymous and great b-u-t I blame the amplification for some
harshness up top" --- "Suzie B. Anthony's soft-grained portrayals are
just that, soft. B-u-t her problematic top notes, at this early stage
in her career already, should be of no concern to a superb evening." -
"Young Sondra mimed, for she couldn't sing, while (the) Old Nelly
sang, for she couldn't act – this one constituted a triple triumph –
two for the price of one Cheryl Studer – you do the math." - "Also in
Paris, cover-girl Marisol's voice took a toll and she found herself
voiceless b-u-t she mimed ¦with feral abandon and athletic grace!¦
while Lulu, positioned at the stage's edge in a black pantsuit and
the use of a chair and walker!, sang – this too became a triumph, you
see?" - "Everyone's favourite poodle, Ewa Podles, showed up in Philly
and scored a three-register triumph with her debut as Eboli: a splice
job of all your favorite (and not so favorite) Eboli's, on record or
imagined. In
attendance for the Veil Song was Elena Obraztsova, Luciano Pavarotti,
Cheryl Studer, and David Daniels, among others, and for facial
exhaustion, we had the pleasure of Cecilia Bartoli's company; comes to
show how much you can get away with provided your name is not...oh,
never mind." - "Schñfer is certainly no one's idea of coloratura b-u-t
her hip-hop Violetta in Berlin, under the
tolerant/multidimensional/psychodepth baton of Barenboim, must be
remembered as an important achievement –don't ask but do tell." ---
"Make no mistake, Christine is no one's idea of coloratura. B-u-t
her gang-rape Gilda in London (conducted by Sir Edward Downes of 1994
fame) caused Mickey-Mouse-the-Great to significantly wet his
panties..."

To wit...

http://www.operajaponica.org/reviews/dvd/rigoletto00dvd.htm

Verdi: RIGOLETTO

Reviewed by Mickey (Mouse) Richter
01 Nov 2003

Cast: Paolo Gavanelli (Rigoletto), Christine Schñfer (Gilda),
Marcelo Alvarez (Duke), Eric Halfvarson (Sparafucile), Graciela Araya
(Maddalena), Royal Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House,
Edward Downes (conductor), David McVicar (director), Sue Judd (video
director)

{{This may well be Rigoletto for our times. It is a driven
performance without errors but without grace or beauty. The
production is brutal with full frontal nudity illustrating the
depravity of the Mantuan court. Sets are stark and brutal, movements
are exaggerated and explicit.

Yet, on its own terms, it succeeds. It is beautifully recorded,
visually and audibly. Downes offers a more massive and darker sonic
palette than usual with well-judged tempi and ample support for the
singers. Gavanelli's jester lacks mirth and paternal affection, but
one must acknolwedge his ease in the role and his brilliant, ample
baritone. Alvarez is the only one of the three principals with a true
legato, but he has few opportunities to exploit it. His portrayal is
neither inherently evil nor naively wicked; this Duke complies with
the baseness about him rather than leading it. The voice is well
produced over the range (he has the 'Possente amor' cabaletta but
eschews the unwritten high D) though he sounds more brilliant than
beautiful. Schñfer's Gilda is hard rather than innocent, scarcely
less forward than the flirtatious Countess Ceprano. Halfvarson's
Sparafucile cannot reach the depravity achieved so easily by
Gavanelli; Araya seems little more licentious than Gilda.

The story of Rigoletto is brutal. If the beauty and romance of
Verdi's score are diminished, this recording makes its violence
explicit.}}

Why yes, ladies and gents, even these public acts of levitation are
denied Midland, Michigan's Prodigal Daughter --- But then, taking
into account the desperate [in vain] efforts toward reconstruction
and regeneration, toward opening new markets (undue over-exposure in
Arts Journalism and in Arts Ad(as in advertising)ministration - over
who counts - over what counts – and when and where --- and why and
how and how much --- and for how long --- all this being the final
vestige of their former Imperial selves), what is the increasingly
brilliant, independent-minded, informed, impartial, cultured, mature,
eloquent, and sympathetic Anglo/Judeo/Homo-centric Promotional
Universe to do with a creature refusing easy categorization? - of
what value or use is the lady? - of what value or use is the artist? -
who is neither aesthetic suppository (credit where credit is due to
Mr. James Jorden of Parterre Box Productions, certainly Ltd.) nor
psychobabble nor English (nor pretender) n-o-r r-e-s-i-d-e-n-t n-o-r
c-i-t-i-z-e-n n-o-r D-a-m-e nor Faerie Queene nor Greek (nor
pretender) nor black-and-blue (nor pretender) nor Slav (how could she
pretend?) nor German (nor pretender) nor Austrian (nor pretender) nor
squally Kammersñngerin nor French (nor pretender) nor Cinema Paradiso
Italian (nor pretender) nor Eastern European (nor pretender) nor
Spaniard/Latin American bombshell (they are the flavor of the moment
and how could she pretend?) nor Brasilian bossanova nor Argentinian
tango nor Appalachian spring nor Yiddishbbuk nor Anonymous4 (that's
right, not one not two not three) nor Asian (how could she pretend?)
nor Aussie nor Canadian --- nor deemed sufficiently A-m-e-r-i-c-a-n --
- n-o-r r-e-s-i-d-e-n-t nor MET-centric nor Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn-
ette nor Broadway belcher nor Saint Francis-can nor Angelena nor
Chicagoan nor Texan nor New Mexican nor Washingtonian nor Saint Louis
Gal nor panderer nor tall nor thin nor heroine-overdose chic nor deaf
nor dumb nor blind nor blonde nor Blonde Ambition nor Barbie Doll nor
grotesque nor grotesquely zaftig nor power hungry nor agenda driven
nor faghag nor lesbian nor hairy chested nor cherub nor fashion rag
nor glamour puss nor arriviste nor aspirant nor aspirate nor
potential nor promise (what you hear is what you get, sweetheart) nor
apology nor antiquity nor preserved museum mummy nor soccer mom nor
sucker nor trend nor hip nor H.I.P. nor hip-hop nor joined at the hip
nor hippie nor barefoot at Carnegie Hall nor folkie nor cantor nor
castrata nor contralto nor countertenor nor counterculture nor
anarchist nor antichrist nor lyric mezzo nor soprano on the verge of
a mezzo breakdown nor vice versa nor chanteuse nor soubrette nor
starlet nor coquette nor canary nor woodbird nor nightingale nor
cuckoo clock nor tic toc tic toc tic toc nor geriatric nor vanity
record label owner nor downwardtransposer-Hochfinancier-conductor-
doubleintendant-baritenor-voicecompetitor-crossoverpimp-moviemogul-
realestatemagnate-restaurateur-sexsymbol-playboy-jetsetter (all in
one and one for all and all in a night) nor married to one nor lazy
nor lovely nor beloved nor shrinking violet nor daddy's lil' lass nor
mystic nor myth nor minimalist nor hyperbole nor Überfeminist nor
Konzept nor symbolism nor ying nor yang nor Dreams and Fables nor
metaphysics nor philosopher ("Philosophier' Er nicht, Herr
Schatz...") nor scholar (nor pretender) nor didact nor pedant nor
peasant nor lecturer nor soapbox preacher nor symposium nor
musicologist nor composer (you know, like Callas who wrote all them
masterpieces now falsely ascribed to one Bellini, one Donizetti, and
one other Verdi) nor paladin of the glorious avant-garde nor ostinato
nor experiment nor rarity rat nor rat tat tat nor archaeologist nor
room temperature nor Sponsored By Talbots nor Anglican Service nor
Vivaldi postcard nor Handel MBA [opera's answer to the 80s business
phenomenon --- everyone has one --- but look, ma, they is droppin'
like flies!] nor Britten Ph.D. nor Janácek Nobel Prize nor stunt nor
parody nor caricature nor Hallmark Card nor Disney nor Ozzie &
Harriett nor Will & Grace nor smiley face nor horseface nor humor
monger (in any event, not the shtick you grew up with) nor camp nor
marketing-promo tramp nor cliché nor slogan nor acronym nor t®ademark
nor image-chaser nor sensation-seeker nor Eurogarbage nor ez-
listenin' nor pleasure ride nor automatic cruise control nor
sentiment-al nor cripple nor married to one nor victim nor tearjerker
nor nostalgia trip nor tourist trap nor good-cause nor fund-raiser
(so to speak) nor social worker nor United Way nor Red Cross nor
Katie Couric nor Walk For A Cure nor We Are The World nor Sound Of
Music nor Under the Stars nor Over The Rainbow nor Rainbow Coalition
nor Summertime nor Supper Time (nice tunes if you can) nor vanilla
nor cheeze-whiz nor fruit salad nor cotton candy nor apple pie nor
melba toast nor peaches in double cream nor café au lait nor cinnamon
roll nor dark chocolate nor civil/human rights centerfold nor gulag
survivor nor married to one nor refugee nor married to one nor UN
Ambassador nor married to one nor member of any one precious special
interest group (you know who and what you are) n-o-r m-a-r-r-i-e-d t-
o o-n-e n-o-r s-t-r-a-t-e-g-i-c-a-l-l-y w-e-d-d-e-d (you know who and
what you are) nor politician nor married to one nor inter-national
political crisis parasite nor ad-minister of propaganda nor
grassroots peace activist (you do know, don't you, that them ancient
favourite warhorses of yours composed by Bach and Beethoven and
Brahms and Schubert and Schumann and Wagner and Liszt were explicitly
AND implicitly inspired by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict --- or
even better, by the epicentric causes of Israel, Zionism, and of
Universal Jewry --- everything, and we mean everything, seems to
revolve around this Axis, no? --- ask Mehta and Señor Honorario und
Tolerant Barenboim --- by the by, in a recent Chicago program of Hugo
Wolf's Lieder, the "Great Jewish Musician" [and we thought it un-
Klezmer to allude to the man's other career] in harmony with his
German/Christian sub-ordinates – a "physically handicapped baritone"
and an "underpitch soprano" (see "Kubiak, David") (the soprano is one
Angela Denoke, whose disastrous Fidelio Leonore at the Salzburg
Easter Festival of 2003 under Sir Simon will surely have to be
patched by the studio wizards before the "Please-Save-EMI" hype
campaign unfolds) - were heard "r-e-c-l-a-i-m-i-n-g the true meaning
of the 'heilge Deutsches Kunst'" --- again, see "Kubiak, David" ---
kindly note, please, that no one else before `GJM & Co. GmbH' had
accomplished nearly as much, and in a mere evening --- but we live n'
learn --- now we know that Herr Wolf wrote his songs inspired by
populations everywhere holding hands - to promote future handholding.
But Wolf was more than that – he was gracious and generous, which
stands as a synonym for: in addition to reaffirming the existence
[and illegal expansion] of Israel, he also sought to reaffirm the
existence of a specific sexual-orientation population --- and all
this, ladies and gentlemen, for a song) ---
where were we?, ah yes --- nor married to one nor Adler Fella nor
Crayola Opera Program alumna nor Karajan-Harnoncourt-Cardiff-
VeraRosza-Schwarzkopf-Ludwig-Auger-GeorgeLondon-RichieTucker-
BelleSilverman-Albanese-Horne-Scotto-vonStade-Heggie groupie nor
traveler along the Anglo Silk Road --- the LandOfOz-
BerlinStaatsoperUDL-LaMonnaie-ENO-Glyndebourne-NYCO-Glimmerglass-
StLouis-SantaFe-SanDiego-DallasO-HoustonGO-FloridaGO-WashingtonO-n-
such workshop ghettoes.


[Imagine, if you dare.]


E-N-V-Y = D-E-S-T-R-U-C-T-I-O-N
but
S-I-L-E-N-C-E = D-E-A-T-H


Enter into the equation the contemptibly stupid (discerning,
discerning) audiences who (wanted to and still do) believe everything
they read...and voilà, the science gives the (false) i-m-p-r-e-s-s-i-
o-n of yielding the expected (forced) hubris. Then add the ones who
stayed away from attending these artists' performances because they
were simply told to do so (in so many words). Never mind the c-o-w-a-
r-d-s who n-e-v-e-r attended, self-admittedly, but who later saw
fit to publish obituaries passing for legitimate eyewitness report
{BIDU SAYAO, 1902-1999 BRAZILIAN SOPRANO BROUGHT SPARKLE TO
MET / "The Boston Globe" / Author: Richard Dyer / Date: 19.03.1999 /
Section: Living (?) Arts}(again, check out "Maestros of the Pen: A
History of Classical Music Criticism in America", 1998, by Mark N.
Grant, and see if you can spot "Dyer, Richard"). Never mind the h-y-p-
o-c-r-i-t-e-s who, in addition to prematurely and irresponsibly
issuing death certificates (see "Davis, Peter G."), years later were
caught with their pants down performing auto-erotica to the tune
of "Returns Triumphant!" (see "Davis, Peter G."). Little wonder
many ceased listening --- and begin listening with others' ears and
without their own little heads and hearts they did. But leave it to
the bloodless (and if you don't have blood you don't need a heart and
if you don't have blood you will find yourself thirsty, very thirsty,
guaranteed) - it is in fact their exclusive province - to accomplish
such feats. No, they were/are neither Maria nor Renata nor Renata nor
Joan nor Leonie nor Gwyneth nor Anja --- impeccable vocalists that
they were --- and why should they be? --- Take the particularly
complex case of a fascinatingly complex yet elemental yet thoroughly
modern, and yet not, artist...Cheryl Studer --- was/is the backlash
really for l-a-c-k o-f q-u-a-l-i-t-y, for l-a-c-k o-f a-r-t-i-s-t-i-c
w-o-r-t-h, for l-a-c-k o-f t-e-m-p-e-r-a-m-e-n-t, for l-a-c-k o-f p-e-
r-s-o-n-a-l-i-t-y?

A decade or so later there is a pregnant, pulsating and penetrating
sense of panic and fatigue among critics, industry folk, and fanatics
(naughty word but only and only when linked with you-know-who) alike,
most shockingly noticeable within the gated communities of the old
and the jaded, who can be heard loudly cheerleading anyone (and we
mean anything)....


[....as long as their names are n-o-t Cheryl Studer.]


[God Willing.]


[And yet more Enchantment/Jubilation courtesy of the
Panacea/Schadenfreude of Cheryl Studer-Free Zones/Ground Zeroes.]


[Sternstunde.]


[God Willing.]


[Young Ones - Do not be duped by the hollow enthusiasms of the age ---
ever seen a sad clown playing happy?]


[But now, oh today....Music and Art....or rather, what passes for
it....and every new product or stage appearance tossed our way by the
Star System we hate to love (certainly a system long preceding but
fatally ran to the ground by the quasi-empty rhetoric and prissiness
of political correctness run amok and afoul, and the Gestapo-like
censorship tactics of the instinct/thought-control police, in concert
with the 'World Music Congress' - the Rudases, the Breslins, the Sire
Jonases, the Mehtas, the Holenders (whose nose is long and arrogant
enough to sniff all the way to the Volksoper and as far as Berlin),
the Levines, the Maazels, the Heymanns, the Previns, the self-
professed rap-music fans of the world (see "von Dohnányi, Christoph" -
-- Uncle must be spinning in his ashes --- ladies and gentlemen, more
often than we are led to believe, death CAN be in vain), The Due(tto)
or Three or Four or Five or Six or Seven Whores - we are losing
count -, Best Friends & Co. Inc. Ltd. S.A. GmbH –-- the Ozawas and the
Gergievs too (following in the goosesteps, in the like-minded Grand
Gestures of Mehta and Maazel, Valery and Seiji would rather
accommodate [and have] the Blind n' Pop(ular) Lounge Singer than the
likes of Gorchakova --- yes, to this level we have sunk) are prime
shareholders (and puppets) in this repugnant jUdErEi – (that's right)
- i.e., by the Wish-Upon-a-Star System of Bocelli, of course, or
Hampson (now pretty much an undisputed by-the-book Straussian,
Wagnerian a-n-d ...hear hear...Verdian...of Stature, don't you know?)
or the Alagnas (f-a-k-e recordings of Verdi's -Trovatore- for Sire
Tony/EMI and Bizet's - Carmen-, also for Sire-to-be Whoever/EMI ---
Grecian Approximation No. XXVI - we have lost count - has yet to sing
Leonora or Carmen where it counts) or the other Bocelli and Michael
Bolton comrade, Fleming....well, all of it h-a-s sudden Meaning and
Necessity, so the public relationists tell us....the Magic courtesy,
n-e-i-t-h-e-r because of especially great voices nor exceptional
interpretive wills nor because of bona fide personalities n-o-r
because of remotely acceptable n-e-w music, but because:

NUMBER 1: their names are n-o-t Cheryl Studer

and

NUMBER 2: ...*in good portion and out of proportion* due to the
PromoOp-Catchpenny that has become 9.11 and its aftermath --- a
monstrous crime monstrously debased by the Infernal Spinning Wheel of
opportunism and commerce and avarice and mayhem and revenge and
murder (widely disguised as justice) --- a tragedy now symbiotically
hijacked to peddle everything from Arms Races to Military Buildups to
Far Right-ism (see "Sharon, Ariel" --- how come we don't hear strings
of consistently shrill High Cs crying for h-i-s removal and disposal
of h-i-s (that is, ours) Weapons Of Mass Destruction --- the latest
government double-standard/media buzzword and insult to our dignity
and intelligence --- this time, however, we applaud Barenboim for
being practically the only one playing FIDDLE ON THE ROOT of the
problem) to Nationalism to Patriotism to Requiems to Anglo-Zionist
Terrorism --- the latter conducted both musically and extra-
curricularly, most prominently with (critical mass-destruction) Heavy-
Metal made in the squeaky clean U.S. of A. and paid for with y-o-u-r
humble American tax dollar (as if you had a choice) and the blood of
y-o-u-r sons and daughters. --- So why won't Israel and its
Business/Washington lobbyists fight their next
door neighbors, which include Iraq and now Syria and Iran, all by
themselves and with t-h-e-i-r o-w-n currency and leave us all a-l-
o-n-e a-n-d i-n p-e-a-c-e?]

[Consequently, would that t-h-e o-t-h-e-r terrorists (for there
are two sets) went home too.]

[Did we fail to add that the terrorists need the U.S. as much as the
U.S. needs them?]

[As it turns out, no other country --- no other --- is as arrogant,
as infantile, as selfish, as bellicose, as disrespectful, as
insulting, as pervasively poisonous, as dubious, as abusive, as
destructive, and as dangerous as the USA (in "universal" coalition
with its satellites: its former occupier the UK and the UK-occupied
Palestine, Israel). And we mean militarily, economically,
politically, diplomatically, spiritually, culturally, and
philosophically – about the latter five, it is the stuff of
bankruptcy courts and all are on equal footing. Sviatoslav Richter
knew (better yet, f-e-l-t) this and never came back. So did Brigitte
Fassbaender. Terrible.]


[In other words, and in some order or other of appearance...


NO MORE BLOOD FOR `THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY'
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE WILLIAM KRISTOLS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE PAUL WOLFOWITZES
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE ALAN GREENSPANS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE JOE LIEBERMANS (er, THE JOHN KERRYS)
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE LEFT-WING JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE LEFT-OF-CENTER JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE CENTERED JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE RIGHT-OF-CENTER JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE RIGHT-WING JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR SHARON'S SANDBOX
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE RIGHT-WING CHRISTIAN LOBBY
(Surprise of surprises --- The ever-clever Jews
have contrived to ingratiate themselves with this
segment as well, among all the others)
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE DICK CHENEYS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE DONALD RUMSFELDS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE JOHN ASHCROFTS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR ARROGANCE
NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL
NO MORE BLOOD FOR VENGEANCE
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE TONY BLAIRS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE MARIONETTE/MINSTREL ACTS OF
Sir COLIN POWELL, Dame CONDOLEEZA RICE, and
Sir KOFFI ANNAN]


[Discuss, if you dare.]


[About the new studio-product ('tis is what we call them fakery, no?)
from EMI ---IDOMENEO---, we have read puff like "a recording that n-
e-e-d-e-d to be made." --- after all, it contains the antipodean
missionary of all things English, Sir Charles; British Will o' Wisp
Bostridge; the Bocelli collaborator Frittoli; and, to top it all, the
New (Age) Callas – the organically-grown, FDA approved, anodyne,
pastel, drab as damp cardboard, and dull as fishwater, LetItRain Hunt
(hyphen – I married a techie with composer pretensions + I too have a
little Sob Story in circulation - what is yours?) Lieberson. But do
not for a second believe the ad-men....for this product is yet more
of the ho-hum variety.]

[And don't forget that LetItRain is an "a-r-t-i-s-t", sensitive and
musical - albeit a very very VERY part-time one - but please
understand that very very VERY few others are as musical, let alone
sensitive and artistic].

[About the GRAMMY®-winning but not-so-new DECCA ---COCKSUCKER BLUES---
, we have read fluff like "A New F-i-r-s-t L-a-d-y of Bel Canto -
Renée Fleming very nearly manages to shake the insistent ghost of
Maria Callas." (see "http://www.andante.com") --- But we are neither
deaf nor naïve nor stupid. You see, n-e-v-e-r e-v-e-r f-o-r-g-e-t,
we insist, that sopranos of the caliber of Cheryl and Maria (to name
but two), frayed of voice and heart or not, n-e-v-e-r e-v-e-r s-t-o-o-
p-e-d this low (below the navel) in the style department. But after
all, the new product (foreplayed in a studio some years ago but not
ejaculated for another 2 or 3) is being cart-wheeled under a neon
sign that reads "bel canto" (yes, in lowercase and with the 'b'
dangling), complete with a $2 rebate incentive b-e-l-o-w its already
reduced repo artistic value - ya know, in the manner of the stereo-
typical toupéed and polyester-clad used-car salesman – breathy,
cajoling, cheap, cheesy, insincere, sleazy, slimy, slippery, sticky --
in that order – and that's the singing -- a raw deal -- a lemon. Hard
to swallow, ain't it?]

----------------------------

IF YO NO KEEP `EM ENTERTAIN' N' DISTRACTED N' IGNORANT N' PLACID(O),
WHO GONNA FIGH' YO WARS?


Blue-Collar/Working-Class Cheap Labor (and the aesthetics, or lack
of, of --- but why stop there? --- how about the absolute absence of
artistic acumen? --- see "Flanigan, Lauren" - see "Radvanovsky,
Sondra" - see "Goerke, Christine" – see "Makarina, Olga"-
- see "Guleghina, Maria" - see "Queler, Eve" – see "Oren, Daniel" –
see "Chaslin, Frédéric" - see "Eastern Europeans" – see "the little
touring companies that could") and Blitzkrieg-style Public Relations
and Marketing have been summoned to the cause of salvaging something
or other from the debris of these self-appointed arbiters/stewards of
taste [tastes ranging from (Z)ubin to Purcell to Kirkby to (A)nalSex –
the rawer the longer the harder the faster the deeper the sooner the
better] and self-avowed "opera/music lovers'" own making. And thus
have the armies of businessmen landed, triumphantly, with portfolios
chock-full with the losers, the useless, the amateurs, the
dilettantes, the pedigree-less, the unaccomplished, the homo-geneous,
the vocally faceless, the emaciated, the pretty, the photogenic, the
grotesque too, the church rodents, the H.I.P.-voiced, the H.I.P.-
mannered, the pedigree-less, the correct, the obedient, the mega-
amplified, the firefighters, the policemen, the heroes, the
construction workers, the factory slaves, the custodians, the
industrial quality, the white trash, the divas next door; the divas
next door with the cute children as gimmicks; the divas next door who
are so nice and behave so well and who must reassure us about it; the
divas next door who seek psychotherapy and then have the distaste to
announce it; the vedettes next door who love all that jazz and then
scat and squat through e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that is European a-n-d
Classical and not --- but then, in music that requires precisely
that, the phlegm gets in the way of that thang called swing; the
divas next door who thrive on wrestling, meatloaf, and fish n' chips -
-- and look and sound it; the garish mansions next door who marry
well, transgenderly; the divas next door who, although already in
their 40s and beyond, must appease us by "taking baby steps to
protect their voices" and who swear that that's why they will still
be in their prime in extreme old age; the divas next door who swear
we will want to hear them then; the optically challenged, the
physically handicapped, the sob stories, more sob stories, the
victims, the politics of victimhood,
the politics of sexual orientation, the politics of identity, the
politics of race, the politics of reverse racism, the politics of we-
are-holier-than-thou, the politics of lifestyle, the politics of
triviality, the politics of image, the politics of artifice, the
politics of banality, the politics of favoritism, the politics of
partisanship, the politics of corruption, the politics of indecency,
the politics of Puritanism, the politics of fleecing, the politics of
the willing, the politics of "coalition", the politics of crass
deception, the politics of the willful, the politics of oppression
disguised as liberation, the politics of extracurricular social
agendas, the politics of inadequacy, the politics of "The American
Peepole," the politics of dumbing-down, the politics of the lowest
possible common denominator, the pedigree-less, the pedigree-less,
the pedigree-less, and yet more of that. And some more sob stories.
And not to be missed: the Teddy Bears (think of – well not really,
since you can't – the vocal troubles, the gross embarrassments of
stunt-ed live programs - everything from Beg Your Indulgences to
Public Regrets to Tosti to Walkouts - from, for instance, Juan
Dieguito Flórez, the Brightman/Bocelli/Church/Sissel-comrade Domingo,
the other Sissel and Bocelli comrade-in-arms Terfel, and Heppner – no
matter - the insulted audiences correspond to their own cheating with
tears and Standing Os --- but no surprise here, for it is nothing but
another perversion of our desensitized, demoralized, diseased,
frivolous, diluted, confused, and vulgar days.)

FUCK ME

Even Joseito Carreras became the object of one of these
demonstrations - and this in the enlightened and improved and newly
innocent and important again (or so it goes) Salzburg of the summer
of two-thousand-and-two-After-Christ --- to you that's 20+ years
since the Spaniard lost IT --- or almost a quarter century riding on
the [petty]coattails of his own sob story).

HARDER PLEASE

On the opposite receiving end we read the quasi-ecstatic notices on
behalf of Merola-ite but no one's conception of sound vocalism (until
now, mysteriously), Luana DeVol.


And thus today's so-called "A-List" (really, nothing but a paid
announcement transmitted by the "Ass-ociated Press"), the P®ops, the
Pops, the Popp Clones (she of the intellectual and revisionist and
hyperkonzeptual and seminal and monumentally popular programs, right
Sir Peter?), the Grümmer Clones, the Callas Clones, the Tebaldi
Clones, the Sutherland Wannabes, the Steber Clones, the Schwarzkopf
Clones, the Sarah Vaughan Clones, the Price Clones, the Janowitz
Clones, the Freni Wannabes, the Janet Baker Clones, the
Fischer-Dieskau Clones, the Furtwñngler Clones, the Cut n' Paste
Composites --- poor, pitiful
facsimiles a-l-l ---, the Little Names, the Wannabes, the Crossover
Hustlers, the Bubblegum, the New Age Mongrels, the Postmoderns, the
Postmortems, the Multiculturalists, the Community Initiatives, the
Soundbites, the Marketing Love Couples/Traumpaars (in the tradition
of Peter n' Ben, Sir Peter n' Sancta Lucia, Galina n' Misha, Richard
n' Joan, Edita n' Friedrich, Dietrich n' Julia, Anja n' Wieland,
Christoph n' Anja, Christa n' Walter, Walter n' Elisabeth, Maria n'
Ari, Plácido n' Marta, Nicoletta n' Luciano [we have lost count], now
we have Arnold n' Maria, Peter n' Petra, Angela n' Roberto, Mia n'
André, André n' Anne-Sophie --- by the widest and longest possible
stretch of the imagination, her greatest career move since Karajan
and since commissioning two or three (m)utterly charmless and
obsolete b-u-t oh-so-rigorous! works for fiddle), the Exquisite, the
Divine, the Fabulous, the Delicious, the Magnificent, the Paramount,
the Fantabulous, and the Little Labels That Could all have it
relatively easy in comparison to that preceding generation. And the
critical standards --- what standards? - whose? – of what era? ---
have reformed, or rather, have doubled and tripled....But injury is
often prone to insult. Hell, standards have liquified and then
evaporated vis a vis the new generation. It is no longer Sound Music
Criticism but Lowest-Common-Denominator Public Relations Spin [and
much worse: the fixation with that elusive something known as
technique --- technique and organization and perfection as ends in
themselves: music-making as athletic match: missing the forest for
the trees --- but this is another angle for another day – or is it?].
So much so that it has become strangely and suddenly k-o-s-h-e-r once
more (Jesus!, how many more times are we going to hear about market
over-saturation?) to make records [and k-o-s-h-e-r again to be
an "American Opera Singer"] (Remember when you and I were advised [or
should we say advertised?] to please r-e-j-e-c-t, swiftly and
wholesale, them records [or anything containing Cheryl Studer --- or,
for that matter, any, and we mean any attempt at open discourse on
her art? --- Do you remember the longstanding efforts amounting to a
campaign to discredit the lady and her work? --- Must you be made
aware of the pall hovering over the mere mention of her name in some
circles? --- You do not need to be told, do you?, of the air-tight
atmosphere surrounding the lady's name, tantamount to Can-Do-No-
Right – not then, not now --- Have you forgotten the p-r-e-v-e-n-t-i-
o-n measures taken by the taste/censorship police in these forums in
order to curtail all possibility of even the minutest measure
whiffing of favourable discourse on her art?] --- Oh, you know the
litany --- something about digital and generalized and faked and
frigid and manufactured and calibrated and illusory and phony and
phoned-in and un-necessary and un-fair and in-competent and in-
personal and contrived and in-experienced and un-felt and in-
expressive and ex-pensive and un-popular and over-exposed and under
the note and un-communicative and dull and null and sterile and
perfect and flawed and clinical and precise and international
(curiously, we hardly read such venom spouted at failed-serialist-
turned-serial-partitur-surgeon Pierre Boulez) (and yes, yet again our
bladders burst open --- consider that these traditionally liberal-
anythinggoes-wandering-international minorities are the same ones
seen n' heard wailing like widows over the caskets of
national/regional styles --- but *try* telling them *that* --- try
telling them that their notion of musical-personalities-and-music-
making-as-china-doll has come unglued and undone --- finished --- or
ought to be) and this and that and that and this - beautiful even -
artistic even - you know, the toxic byproduct of uncontained
Kapitalismus - the same Kapitalismus, isn't it?, that gave us such
goodies as Meyerbeer Halévy & Sons, penicillin, Bocelli & Sons, cheap
sentiments, more penicillin, Alan `my-competence-includes-championing-
the-OJ-Simpson-cause-and-the-case-FOR-torture-but-as-a-Jew'
Dershowitz, more penicillin, the Holocash, the Armenian, Russian, and
Chinese Holocausts no one *and we mean no one* made an Industry of,
the current Holocaust under our noses in Congo no one hears or cares
about, Convenience Dictatorships, convenience stores, preservatives,
PCPs, cigarettes, cancer, sunglasses, sunblock, suntanning, more
cancer, opera glasses, the megaphone, the horn, the microphone, the
photograph, the ("fideistic" and most pleasurable) Mapleson
cylinders, maple syrup, Marston Records, naXos, the phonograph, the
light bulb, gaslight, lamps, shades, nostalgia, animated pictures,
the telegraph, the typewriter, carbon paper, the telephone, the
clock, the metronome, the pitch fork, the antenna, the satellite
dish, the radio, the television, bandwidth, TV dinners, the
calculator, the metric system, calendars, famine, feast, walkie-
talkies, headphones, headsets, X-rays, MRIs, cat-scans, night vision
goggles, Google, Usenet, Yahoo, beepers, intercoms, elevators,
escalators, bicycles, stationary bicycles, stationery, faster trains,
the automobile, the jet plane, motorbikes, snowmobiles, surfboards,
skateboards, rollerblades, ice skates, rollercoasters, houses of
horror, houses of cards, houses of mirrors, Martha Stewart, Wal-Mart,
Jerry Springer, NASCAR, The Vagina Monologues, Cori Ellison, Anne
Midgette, Manuela Hoelterhoff, the efforts to erode the composition
and sound and culture of the Vienna Philharmonic (in the manner of
your favourite American Affirmative Action country club or of your
favourite International-sounding ensemble), trailer parks, fast food,
junk food, malnutrition, gluttony, obesity, anorexia nervosa,
nervousness, bulimia, lawn mowers, snow blowers, vacuum cleaners,
detergents, mops, brooms, dust pans, rags, sponges, shags, wigs,
afros, mini-skirts, bellbottoms, platform shoes, pajamas, lingerie,
bikinis, stockings, lava lamps, disco, beat poetry, grunge, turbos,
sedans, vans, buses, minibuses, limousines, tanks, bulldozers,
canoes, motor boats, sail boats, battleships, submarines, B52s, F16s,
space shuttles, robots, rockets, missiles, bombs, stealth bombers,
torpedoes, landmines, telescopes, Star Wars, Nuclear Races, Weapons
of Mass Destruction, Agent Orange, palm trees, palm pilots, Napalm,
Nepal, Free Tibet, Save the Whales, note pads, Post-Its, Hiroshima,
Dresden, Vietnam (to name but a few of these insignificant mishaps,
right?), MOABs (about the testing in mid-March of 2003 of such
destructive a WMD in Florida, USA --- about the latest sham, that of
Schwarzenegger in California, USA --- that either fiasco failed to
generate as much environmental, moral, philosophical and whatnot
concerns all around as a photo-op, says everything we need to know
about the collective swamp we are), Apaches, Indian Reservations,
indians, cowboys, Kleenex (we often cultivate and later spoon-feed
you the Sob Stories but we also arm you with the tissue to wipe out
the tears --- all on OUR terms), duct tape, gas masks, mascara,
cosmetics, perfumes, Tammy Faye Baker, Mary Kay, Pink Cadillacs,
Tupperware, bingo, lotteries, the welfare system, WICs, Vegas,
Niagara Falls, casinos, Elvis, brilliantine, Crisco, hairspray, hair
dryers, exhaust fumes, exhaustion, stimulants, sleep deprivation,
sedatives, alcoholism, depression, depleted Ozone layers, synthetic
fibers, fiberoptics, boxing, wrestling, rugby, frying bacon, monaural
sound, analog tech, reel-to-reels, 8-tracks, the cassette, the LP,
stereo systems, stereo sound, surround sound, boom boxes, faxes,
paper clips, nail clippers, paper shredders, photocopiers, laser
printers, overnight mail, the (unfortunate and devastating to the
testimonials of a vast majority of contemporary artists) digital
technology, the PC, laptops, lapdogs, hot dogs, alarm clocks,
wristwatches, dishwashers, ice boxes, refrigerators, toasters, ovens,
microwave ovens, food processors, blenders, the CD, SACD, the
walkman, the minidisc, the famous (pitch re-engineered) Richter CD-
ROMs, the (disgracefully influential, sound-engineering-bag-of-tricks-
wise) Anglo/Judeo DECCA/Culshaw/Solti Ring, MTV, commercial
infrastructures, eBay, Spam, frozen French fries, burnt-thin-weak
American coffee, diners, Java, Starbucks, generators, engines,
batteries, bartering, butter, department stores, super stores,
supermarkets, mega stores, shopping malls, strip malls,
overdevelopment, superstores, parking lots, overspending, high debt,
low savings, high crime, rampant violence, credit cards, more credit
cards, Carte Blanche (for some --- you know who and what you are),
bonus points, more fleecing, fees, fees, fees everywhere, more
penicillin, toothpaste, toothpicks, magazines, annual reports, filing
cabinets, paper paper paper everywhere, papered halls, confetti, more
paper shuffling, bureaucracies, red tape, yellow ribbons,
deforestation, tourism, eco-tourism, Chevron/Texaco, Tibet, Mt.
Everest, B&Bs, R&B, hotels, hostels, motels, park benches, jacuzzis,
T-lifts, plastic surgery, breast implants, Vail, Viagra, ski resorts,
Park Ave., Madison Ave., boulevards, summer homes, increasingly short
vacations, ice cream, cotton candy, cotton balls, Q-tips, ear plugs,
The Boston Pops, more wallpaper, formica, wood paneling, pop tarts,
lollipops, soda pop, pop psychology, popcorn, corn flakes, vitamins,
herbs, steroids, gymnasiums, hoola-hoops, pinballs, Chinese checkers,
yo-yos, Yo-Yo Ma, Tan Dun, John Williams, Bobby McFerrin, PBS, Yanni,
yet more wallpaper, more penicillin please, jams, jelly, jell-o, J-
Lo, day-glo, go-go, psychedelia, fans, air conditioning, wallpaper,
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, 600+ variations on a theme, silk flowers,
plastic flowers, fake spring water, faux marble, faux fur, faux
leather, animal rights, stuffed animals, andante.com, 12,000 other
music websites, the pirates, special effects, the VHS, HTML, the WWW,
Apples, Windows, ATMs, FTD, LSD, FTC, IMF, DNA, UPS, the cell phone,
the LD, the DVD, MP3s, HMV, Opera In The Original (that's English to
you, naturally and perennially), survivor shows, SUVs, BMWs, VWs,
IRAs, 401Ks, BBQs, bb guns, water coolers, televised war crimes,
video games, Andy Warhol, instant soup, instant gratification,
Instant Opera, Opera For All (a noble Konzept but it's just that
the "critical masses" ain't there any longer...nor do they care to
be), Shock n' Awe, more penicillin, Toys r' Us, CNN operas, soap, soap
operas, Oprah, Howard Stern, more penicillin, Hollywood blockbusters,
Hollywood stereotyping (but seldom of "their own" --- you know who
and what you are), Jewish Racism (an issue of semantics, for we
hardly dare call it what it is), more penicillin, Sellars Konwitschny
Neuenfels Beito Wilson & Zambello, yet more penicillin, El Niño,
septic tanks, latrines, toilet stalls, more penicillin, yet more
Regietheater, yet more penicillin, graffiti, tattoos, wax, S&M, M&Ms,
teflon, styrofoam, disposable incomes, tax loopholes, tax havens,
creative accounting, ENRON, insurance scams, for-profit health care,
nannies, nurseries, nursing homes, retirement communities, inner-city
squalor, overpriced sneakers, gangs, segregation, not-in-my-backyard
liberals, For-God-and-Country right-wingers, country clubs,
fraternities, underpaid overseas labor, economies of scale, ever
widening income gaps, The Gap, GNP, NASA, the NASDAQ, the NYSE, all
out grossness, waste dumps, twisted metal, scrap heaps, junkyards,
scaffolds, the ENO, more penicillin, karaoke, red light districts,
peep shows, more penicillin, laxatives, aspirin, contraceptives,
antacids, the legal and illegal drug culture, the corner drugstore,
super drugstores, syringes, methadone, band-aids, prophylactics, test
tube babies, petri dishes, no culture, bagels, pretzels, lox, hummus,
Hummers, hybrids, Vilar gardens, Vilar foyers, Vilar lobbying, Vilar
titles, Vilar entitlements, Vilar foreclosures, Vilar defaults, Vilar
promises, skyscrapers, corporate-filtered news and op-eds, supply and
no demand, no supply and demand, overflow, overlap, overhead,
exaggerated price markups, unpaid overtime labor, the cheapest labor
since slavery and then bread --- the Economy of Volunteerism, the
Economy of Temporary Labor, outsourcing, more fleecing, multitasking,
micromanaging, compartmentalization, specialization (and yet today we
celebrate in the best way we can, posthumously, the versatility,
repertory escapades and consistently diamantine vocalism, yes?, of a
century+ ago of, say, the immortal [and Jewess] Lilli Lehmann or, for
that matter, of anyone – provided their last name is not Studer ---
and for that matter, how many of you experienced either one where it
counts?), teleconferencing, telemarketing, wireless technology (but
what are we really communicating?), multimedia, microchips, silicon
(perhaps all that sand in the Middle East, which includes Israel,
could be put to good use – BLOOD FOR SAND? --- nah, not worth it),
underutilized solar energy, superhighways, software, hardware,
peripherals, acoustically enhanced opera houses and concert halls,
euphemisms, masked balls, virtual reality, cloning, artificial
intelligence, Callas martyrs, more penicillin, Caruso, Ponselle,
Callas, more Callas, more penicillin, Flagstad, Nilsson, more EMI
Callas re-re-re-re-re-regurgitations, more penicillin, yet more Sony
Glenn Gould re-re-re-re-re-compilations, yet more penicillin, yet
more Vladimir Horowitz re-re-re-re-re-releases, yet more penicillin --
- and of course, the same Kapitalismus that has transmitted the Oh So
Long Anticipated, Oh So Very Important and, at last!, Oh So Necessary
EWIGE WELTKULTURERBE belonging to, for example and randomly,
Pavarotti's new excremental release (the Pop album), Bocelli,
Cecilia, Bryn, Barenboim, Zubin `I owe my spectacles to the Jews'
Mehta, Petra-Maria, E-di-ta! E-di-ta! E-di-ta!, LetItRain, Beverly,
Sir Simon, Ozawa, Renée, Gergiev, Galina, Neil, Aprile Millo [these
days (that is, when she is not excusing herself to audiences or
performing in restaurants) reduced - or is it enhanced? – to croon,
pathetically and below the note, opposite Danny Boy The 9.11 NYPD
Singin' Cop], Alessandra, Grace, Shirley, Jessye, von Otter,
Schñfer, "Marilyn Monroe Purr" and "Broadway Casting Agent's Dream"
Debbie (see "Ross, Alex" and "Tommasini, Anthony" respectively) - (a
f-a-k-e recording of R. Strauss' -Friedenstag- for Sinopoli/DGG ---
"...Deborah Voigt's Maria...was in fact dubbed in after the
recording was completed, after the original soprano had dropped
out...." -'Fanfare', Sep/Oct 2002, p. 214), Cathy, Kathy, Jane,
Ruthie Ann!, "Veteran Wagnerian" Karita (see CareerHomo-turned-critic-
turned-promoter "Tommasini, Anthony") - (a f-a-k-e recording of
Schoenberg's -Gurrelieder- for Sire Simon/EMI -
http://andante.com/magazine/article.cfm?id=17979),
Violeta (a f-a-k-e recording of Poncielli's –Gioconda- for Sir-to-be
Viotti/EMI – Urmana has yet to sing Gioconda where it counts (and
neither has her Spanish-Fly cohort as Enzo) – but at least she is
still in possession of her renowned italianitÓ and coloratura
abilities, yes?, sufficient to render her a Favorite of critics and
maybe, just maybe, to secure some paltry "Please-Save-EMI" sales),
Waltraud - and much much more) ----- for naXos, FARAO, Rare Opera,
Mom & Pop, even for Lucifer Classics. No matter.


[But......we are afraid it's t-o-o l-a-t-e --- because the
registers, they ain't ringin' (and all too often and in contradiction
to what we are led to believe, not just the cash ones). Regrets.]


3C. How exactly is naXos alleviating the crisis of overcrowding and
confusion among consumers? In opera titles alone, they have recorded
yet a-n-e-w: Boh


Name: paolo
Date: 04/30/2004 04:56:25 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
A Community Outreach Initiative, Part II

----------------------------

"In life, democracy.
In art, aristocracy."

--- Arturo Toscanini

----------------------------

3D. "Oh but it does mean something, it does", we say. So the "average
music lover" has become the barometer of quality and relevance?
Indeed they don't deserve Muti, Abbado, or Chailly (however much they
deserve the three-minute-aria-cum-top-ten-hit and however little they
give a dime or deserve whatever happens before and after the
goddamn Big Tune). And is the Hulun Hu Tympany Orchestra really
better than Amsterdam, Dresden, Berlin or Vienna? (although, truth be
told, too many of us have heard the Vienna, for one, play and sound
like a school of simians under the stick shift of a colonized and
assimilated but loyal to Queen Mum, and thus celebrated, Indian
cabbie).

3E. And Cheryl Studer, she's not one of the unwashed, is she? Were
they her contemporaries, would Mr. Heymann have singled out Callas,
Tebaldi, Sutherland, or Caballé, to name but a few, in his lowly,
opportunistic manner? After all, they were/are *Daughters Of
Lucifer*, to our benefit. Presumably naXos treats its "illustrious"
roster with more dignity, respect, and vocal support. Speaking of
vocal support, perhaps the crafty and clever Mr. Heymann is unaware
that *his own* Floria Tosca (Madame Nelly Miri-a-e-i-o-u --- "más
sabe el burro que tú") has reportedly bombed in this and other roles
numerous times in numerous places. However, these catastrophes have
failed to make a dent in the armory of the "cognoscenti" and their
media spokespeople, strangely. For those not "in the know", Madame M
is rumoured to be the Bastard Child of the Incestuous Union of the
Twins Callas and Heymann, now all grown and matured into a very 'Rare
Opera' singer complete with numerous fancifully edited recordings to
her name. No matter.

4. Many of us have heard naXos' Caruso edition (and not just naXos')
(mind you, not that the long-deceased tenor is remotely a Heymann
discovery/original --- and neither are --- not one --- any of the
others --- not one --- that Sir Heymann & Co. keep dumping as
remasterings upon this reverential but funereal shopping cart --- and
for the record, not one of Heymann's living artists –not one-
resembles a so-called personality or great voice). We have to wonder
what Mr. Heymann's authoritative producers and editors (and his Public
Relationists) would have made of the great man today
for violating at least a couple of standards of sound conduct such as
throat-clearing smack in the middle of a take and a glaring false
entry at the beginning of another? And what of the poor pianist?
Good God.

----------------------------

Considering the Grand Meltdown (not lacking the "Grand Manner" you so
prefer – or do you?) of new opera recordings (on Compact Disc alone?)
from the Universal Classics family of labels (DGG, DECCA,
Philips)....and now from Sony and EMI Classics too....let
us take a Long and Hard (as you like it) look at the following
repertorium ---

* Title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, rec 8/90, London SO,
Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Hanna Glawari in Lehar's Lustige Witwe, rec 1/94, Vienna PO,
Gardiner, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 1-2/94, Vienna PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 5/91, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Rossini's Semiramide, rec 7/92, London SO, Marin,
Lucifer Classics

* Florinda in Schubert's Fierrabras, rec 5/88, Chamber Orch of
Europe, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in R. Strauss' Salome, rec 12/90, Deutsche Oper Berlin,
Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, rec 6/93, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto Act III, rec 9/91, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, rec 5/93, Opéra Bastille, Chung,
Lucifer Classics

* Violetta in Verdi's Traviata, rec 1/91, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '88, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '89, Bayreuth, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Senta in Wagner's fliegende Hollñnder, rec 1/91, Deutsche Oper
Berlin, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gutrune in Wagner's Götterdñmmerung, rec 5/89, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Floyd's Susannah, rec 3/94, Opéra de Lyon, Nagano,
Lucifer Classics

* Marguerite in Gounod's Faust, rec 2/91, Toulouse, Plasson, Lucifer
Classics

* Salomé in Massenet's Hérodiade, rec 11-12/94, Toulouse, Plasson,
Lucifer Classics

* Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, rec 9/90, Vienna PO, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Konstanze in Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail, rec 4/91, Vienna
Symphony, Weil, Lucifer Classics

* Queen of the Night in Mozart's Zauberflöte, rec 7/89, ASMF,
Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* Giulietta in Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann, rec 87/88/89, Dresden
Staatskapelle, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Matilde in Rossini's Guglielmo Tell, rec 12/88, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Madama Cortese in Rossini's Viaggio a Reims, rec 10/92, Berlin PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Spohr's Jessonda, rec '84, ORF Orchestra, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 1/90, Bavarian RSO,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 6/89, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec 2-12/87, Bavarian
RSO, Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec '92, Vienna PO,
Solti, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Verdi's Aida, rec 6/94, Covent Garden, Downes,
Lucifer Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6-7/89, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6/90, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Elena in Verdi's Vespri Siciliani, rec 12/89-1/90, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Drolla in Wagner's Die Feen, rec 7/83, Bavarian RSO, Sawallisch,
Lucifer Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec 6/90, Bayreuth, Schneider, Lucifer
Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec '90, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Eva in Wagner's Meistersinger, rec 4/93, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Irene in Wagner's Rienzi, rec 7/83, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Ortlinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 8/81, Dresden Staatskapelle,
Janowski, Lucifer Classics

* Sieglinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 2-3/88, Bavarian RSO, Haitink,
Lucifer Classics

* Zemlinsky's Der Geburtstagder Infantin, rec 83, Berlin RSO,
Albrecht, Lucifer Classics

* Coloratura Arias by Bellini (Sonnambula/Norma), Verdi
(Traviata/Trovatore), Donizetti (Lucia/Lucrezia Borgia), Rossini
(Barbiere/Semiramide), rec 4/89, Munich RSO, Ferro, Lucifer Classics

* Mozart Arias
(Entführung/Zauberflöte/Idomeneo/Nozze/Giovanni/Clemenza/Cosi), rec
9/89, ASMF, Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder/Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder/Isolde's
Liebestod, rec 1/93, Dresden Staatskapelle, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Isolde's Liebestod, rec 1/88, Bavarian RSO, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Wagner Gala (Tannhñuser/Lohengrin/Meistersinger/Walküre), rec
12/93, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* First Europakonzert - in Prague (Mozart: "Non mi dir"/"Ch'io mi
scordi di te-Non temer amato bene"), rec 5/91, Berlin PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Covent Garden Gala (Otello/Traviata/Fledermaus), rec 7/88, Covent
Garden, Barker, Lucifer Classics

* Sacred Works
(Bach/Schubert/Mendelssohn/Handel/Mozart/Gounod/Faure/Poulenc/Bernstei
n/Bruch), rec 3/91, London SO, Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Samuel Barber Songs, rec 9/92, Browning (R.I.P.), Emerson String
Quartet, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, rec 8/91, Vienna PO, Levine, Lucifer
Classics

* Beethoven in Berlin (Ah! Perfido/Choral Fantasy/Egmont), rec 12/91,
Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Brahms' German Requiem, rec 10/92, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Schubert Lieder, rec 1/90, Gage, Lucifer Classics

* Salzburg Recital (R. Strauss/Schubert/Debussy), rec 8/92, Gage,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Klagende Lied, rec 11/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 2, rec 11/92, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 11-12/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 1/94, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 6/87, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 11/91, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, rec 4/89, Philadelphia Orchestra, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Bruckner's Mass in F Min/Mozart's Vespers, rec 3/77, MIT Choral
Society, Oliver, Lucifer Classics

* Donizetti's Requiem, rec 1/84, Bamberg SO, Gómez-Martínez, Lucifer
Classics

* von Schweinitz's Messe Op. 21, rec 7/84, RSO Berlin, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss Choral Works, rec 9/84, RIAS Kammerchor, Gronostay,
Creed, Lucifer Classics


"L-A Ú-L-T-I-M-A..........que ríe, ríe mejor."


Bravissima Cheryl Studer, verlorene Tochter. Very beautifully and
exquisitely done. A most wonderful, exemplary, and unforgettable
legacy, a legacy of e-x-c-e-p-t-i-o-n-a-l q-u-a-l-i-t-y and d-i-
s-t-i-n-c-t-i-o-n. Thank you for u-n-c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-i-n-g
Artistry of u-n-c-o-m-m-o-n i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-c-e and i-n-s-t-i-
n-c-t --- the work of a consummate being. Thank you. Thank you for
Dedication, Seriousness, and Integrity. Thank you for remaining True
to your self, to the artform (on life-support as it is...and counting
down), and to m-u-s-i-c. Good Music. Thank you for a Universe of
Sound and Texture and Expression and Communication a-l-l o-f
y-o-u-r o-w-n. Thank you for g-e-n-e-r-o-s-i-t-y. Thank you for
H-i-g-h I-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l-i-t-y. And (to boot) individuality within
the bondage of and respect for the T-r-a-d-i-t-i-o-n.

Thank You.

And thank you too, Universal, EMI and Sony, for having had the
foreskin to recognize and capture genius (we know, we know – but
worse has been written and said about the artist) in our midst while
the going was good (now that these dinosaurs' [delusional] populist
causes, causes lately so palatable to the Anglo/Judeo-centric and
their Axes-[oh irony!]-Of-Love, have caused them to
trim....ouch....their future....for that squeaky clean look and
sound....and potent[ial] self-extinction).

----------------------------

And now, a little something to ponder about ---

"Things got pretty rough at the last Philharmonic concert. A bitter
battle broke out over Liszt's 'Mephisto Waltz.' It was the standees
and a part of the gallery, resolved to give their all, against the
parterre, the mountain against the marsh. On the one side we had
youth, intelligence, idealism, good judgement, enthusiasm and
conviction; on the other dullness, frivolity, debility, ignorance,
arrogance, materialism. Such were the contending forces.

There was a lot of applause, but a lot of hissing, too. Since, as we
all know, these Semitic hissing sounds traditionally served
the 'chosen people' as shibboleth in combat with their neighbors, it
was not hard to determine who it was that so emphatically proclaimed
both their dissent and their identity. Indeed, these 'chosen people'
habitually make a great show of their exquisite taste. They are
always ready to recognize in Beethoven a good composer. And yet there
are those who see nothing heroic in the courage of such convictions.
What, then, can we call courageous? Let it pass. These excellent and
generous souls will surely enrich the National Guard with a doughty
legion of tailors, and thus be of service to the state. You can take
an oath on that.

To take seriously the ludicrous behavior of these worthy parterre
subscribers toward the works of a genius such as Liszt would be like
punishing children's bad manners with the rack. We are not so cruel.
But it is well to look for what it is that causes the public to
behave like an ill-mannered child and to think like a well-groomed
cad. How is it, we ask, that Liszt's compositions are rejected by the
majority of our degenerate public? The answer is made uncommonly easy
for me, since it is contained in the question. But then why, someone
could object, do Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., appeal to this same
degenerate public? The objection is so banal, the answer so obvious,
that any blockhead could handle it easily. But should someone choose
to ask me what I mean by degenerate public, I accept the challenge
gladly, and am ready with the answer: a degenerate public is one that
is content to be the ward of a degenerate press.

It is a public of newspaper readers. That is the source of all other
evils. That is the source of the thoughtlessness, frivolity,
dependence, distraction, insensibility and, above all, the bias
against those works condemned to death by the press. If this were an
ingenuous public, it would not tolerate for another day the shameful
chains it now fastens to itself voluntarily. But the habit of cud-
chewing has already become too delightful to permit the slightest
effort to use one's own teeth. Thus, this public receives its
impression of a work of art not directly, but from the review in the
newspaper, to be had in concrete form for a patent. Go then to the
apothecary, and buy yourselves some nux vomica or some other
purgative if you want to have an impression. The effect remains
essentially the same, and you spare yourselves the price of the
ticket. And so a public, the despicable tool of a despicable press,
will pass judgement on the works of a genius! A sluggardly mob that
enters the concert hall as if it were a toy store, reduces the
noblest possessions of mankind to idle diversions, and then, if that
is not satisfactory, arrogantly turns its back on the work of art and
ceremoniously hisses...fie, fie, and once again fie!!!

Given such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Liszt's
original compositions have excited a lively 'for' and 'against'
whenever they have been played in Vienna. This time the applause from
the standees was still far from constituting a demonstration when a
few hot headed Philistines signalled, stupidly enough, the
shibboleth. That was pouring oil on fire. The applause grew louder,
and rightly so, since it was directed no less at the splendid
accomplishment of the orchestra and its conductor, Hans Richter, than
at the work itself. And did not the wonderful performance of this
Lisztian composition merit the most extravagant praise? What did
Liszt's admirers do to excite the drowsy parterre to a counter-
demonstration? They were simply giving due honor to service
rendered."

Hugo Wolf
Vienna
25 April 1886

----------------------------

A HARPSICHORD GLISTENS AND TRIUMPHS

You and I, we know that something in the air is profoundly d-e-g-e-n-
e-r-a-t-e when a nobody of a harpsichordist and her twinklin' little
instrument command more respect and accolades and anal(ysis)
from 'the chosen people' (The Rake's Progress --
http://www.operajaponica.org/reviews/dvd/rake96dvd.htm) than those
ass-igned a certain soprano.

{{It is a delight to find an ebullient, effective recording on DVD.
There are some flaws, to be sure, but overall this disc provides an
exciting and entertaining evening of opera. Credit must be
distributed liberally among composer, librettist, cast, conductor,
orchestra, designer and recording crew.

The central voice in this opera is that of the rake himself and it is
difficult to picture a more effective one than Jerry Hadley. He seems
to find the music easy, which is as it should be, and he realizes
the 'progress' by effective acting with voice and body. Upshaw is
hardly less attractive as his true love. Her challenges are primarily
vocal and she conquers them so easily that one does not even hear
that they were encountered. Pederson is a bit less satisfying,
presenting a colorless devil accurately; one would hope for
more 'bite' in the character and in other productions one finds a
more interesting and less shadowy Nick. This reviewer found the
casting of Henschel as Baba disturbing since it appears to exploit
her physique; still, she delivers a fine performance so presumably
was comfortable with the casting. Those four and all the other
soloists show exemplary enunciation and accuracy; even the chorus is
generally understandable.

The production is remarkable with brilliant sets and costumes
prompting the viewer to look forward to the insights offered in the
next scene. While some of the choices need a second viewing to
decipher, none so dominates the stage that it distracts from the
performance. Tom's jeans and tee shirt are consistent even as he
achieves and loses wealth; the implication that he is the same man
throughout is clear and relevant, while simply adding a hat shows his
advancement. Makeup is used effectively, with reality reflected in
the natural appearance of Ann throughout and Tom at the beginning and
the end, where grotesquerie is used when he is dissolute. Why, then,
the artifice for Trulove and the near-natural appearance (beard
aside) of Baba? More viewings will be needed to appreciate those.

Technically, the disc ranks among the best of its era. The picture is
crisp throughout. Sound is effective stereo without surround; clarity
is exemplary and Ann Beckman's harpsichord glistens without blaring -
just right in performance and in recording. Subtitles are in English
only and cannot be suppressed; that is unfortunate since their style
and color (yellow) are sometimes diverting and they are superfluous
in this performance.

Overall, the word for this disc is 'delightful'. It rewards repeated
viewing and serves the work well.}}


Now consider this shibboleth-by-proxy...

http://www.operajaponica.org/reviews/dvd/aidaroh94dvd.htm

Verdi: AIDA

Reviewed by Mickey (Mouse) Richter
27 May 2002

Cast: Cheryl Studer (Aida), Luciana d'Intino (Amneris), Dennis
O'Neill (Radames), Alexandru Agache (Amonasro), Robert Lloyd
(Ramfis), Mark Beesley (Il Re), John Marsden (Messenger), Yvonne
Barclay (Sacerdotta), Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House,
Covent Garden, Sir Edward Downes (conductor). Elijah Moshinsky
(director)


{{One can now prove that it is possible to make a performance of Aida
dull. Singing and conducting are altogether competent, but the only
elements of this release which enliven the work are those of the
production - and they are more often confusing or distracting than
constructive. Lloyd infuses some life into his character, but Beesley
is both vocally and dramatically subpar. D'Intino has some moments of
expression but they are not those most needed; the opening scene of
Act IV, for example, is flaccid. Studer, O'Neill and Agache sing all
the notes and none of the music. Many points in the score are
marked 'a piacere', but the pleasure of the artists appears to be to
do nothing at all. The effect is altogether colorless - a grey and
pointless recitation of one of the most vibrant scores in opera.

Color is present on the screen in profusion, thanks to the striking
sets and costumes. Unfortunately, those bear little relationship to
action in the work. Where the banks of the Nile seem to be
represented in Act III by poles topped by cat figures, the same
symbol is carried into the first scene of Act IV, clearly suggesting
that the designer had something else in mind. It is difficult to
believe that the stunning, traditional production of the La Scala
Aida with Chiara and Pavarotti came from the same director as this
one. Characters mill about on stage, doing mysterious things and
thereby diverting attention from what is written and what is being
sung. For this reviewer, any production requiring explanation is in
and of itself faulty.

Technically, this disc is fine with clear sound and picture. Large's
direction is in line with his preference for extreme closeup. Many
find that distracting even on tape; on DVD, often seen on a large
screen, it can be even less attractive, but that is a matter of
personal taste.}}


And thus spoke our hero. We re-quote:

{{One can now prove that it is possible to make a performance of Aida
dull. Singing and conducting are altogether competent, but the only
elements of this release which enliven the work are those of the
production - and they are more often confusing or distracting than
constructive. Lloyd infuses some life into his character, but Beesley
is both vocally and dramatically subpar. D'Intino has some moments of
_expression but they are not those most needed; the opening scene of
Act IV, for example, is flaccid. Studer, O'Neill and Agache sing all
the notes and none of the music. Many points in the score are
marked 'a piacere', but the pleasure of the artists appears to be to
do nothing at all. The effect is altogether colorless - a grey and
pointless recitation of one of the most vibrant scores in opera.}}

Let us ponder some more:

"Things got pretty rough at the last Philharmonic concert. A bitter
battle broke out over Liszt's 'Mephisto Waltz.' It was the standees
and a part of the gallery, resolved to give their all, against the
parterre, the mountain against the marsh. On the one side we had
youth, intelligence, idealism, good judgement, enthusiasm and
conviction; on the other dullness, frivolity, debility, ignorance,
arrogance, materialism. Such were the contending forces.

There was a lot of applause, but a lot of hissing, too. Since, as we
all know, these Semitic hissing sounds traditionally served
the 'chosen people' as shibboleth in combat with their neighbors, it
was not hard to determine who it was that so emphatically proclaimed
both their dissent and their identity. Indeed, these 'chosen people'
habitually make a great show of their exquisite taste. They are
always ready to recognize in Beethoven a good composer. And yet there
are those who see nothing heroic in the courage of such convictions.
What, then, can we call courageous? Let it pass. These excellent and
generous souls will surely enrich the National Guard with a doughty
legion of tailors, and thus be of service to the state. You can take
an oath on that.

To take seriously the ludicrous behavior of these worthy parterre
subscribers toward the works of a genius such as Liszt would be like
punishing children's bad manners with the rack. We are not so cruel.
But it is well to look for what it is that causes the public to
behave like an ill-mannered child and to think like a well-groomed
cad. How is it, we ask, that Liszt's compositions are rejected by the
majority of our degenerate public? The answer is made uncommonly easy
for me, since it is contained in the question. But then why, someone
could object, do Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., appeal to this same
degenerate public? The objection is so banal, the answer so obvious,
that any blockhead could handle it easily. But should someone choose
to ask me what I mean by degenerate public, I accept the challenge
gladly, and am ready with the answer: a degenerate public is one that
is content to be the ward of a degenerate press.

It is a public of newspaper readers. That is the source of all other
evils. That is the source of the thoughtlessness, frivolity,
dependence, distraction, insensibility and, above all, the bias
against those works condemned to death by the press. If this were an
ingenuous public, it would not tolerate for another day the shameful
chains it now fastens to itself voluntarily. But the habit of cud-
chewing has already become too delightful to permit the slightest
effort to use one's own teeth. Thus, this public receives its
impression of a work of art not directly, but from the review in the
newspaper, to be had in concrete form for a patent. Go then to the
apothecary, and buy yourselves some nux vomica or some other
purgative if you want to have an impression. The effect remains
essentially the same, and you spare yourselves the price of the
ticket. And so a public, the despicable tool of a despicable press,
will pass judgement on the works of a genius! A sluggardly mob that
enters the concert hall as if it were a toy store, reduces the
noblest possessions of mankind to idle diversions, and then, if that
is not satisfactory, arrogantly turns its back on the work of art and
ceremoniously hisses...fie, fie, and once again fie!!!

Given such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Liszt's
original compositions have excited a lively 'for' and 'against'
whenever they have been played in Vienna. This time the applause from
the standees was still far from constituting a demonstration when a
few hot headed Philistines signalled, stupidly enough, the
shibboleth. That was pouring oil on fire. The applause grew louder,
and rightly so, since it was directed no less at the splendid
accomplishment of the orchestra and its conductor, Hans Richter, than
at the work itself. And did not the wonderful performance of this
Lisztian composition merit the most extravagant praise? What did
Liszt's admirers do to excite the drowsy parterre to a counter-
demonstration? They were simply giving due honor to service
rendered."

Hugo Wolf
Vienna
25 April 1886

----------------------------

M-U-S-I-C OF THE FUTURE

Berg, Alban / Wozzeck / Marie
Tchaïkowsky, Piotr Ilyich / Evgeny Onegin / Tatyana
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus / Così fan tutte / Fiordiligi
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus / Don Giovanni / Donna Elvira
Puccini, Giacomo / Manon Lescaut / Manon Lescaut
Puccini, Giacomo / Tosca / Tosca
Strauss, Richard / Capriccio / Grñfin
Strauss, Richard / Salome / Salome
Verdi, Giuseppe / Un Ballo in Maschera / Amelia
Verdi, Giuseppe / Don Carlo / Elisabetta
Wagner, Richard / Tristan und Isolde / Isolde

MORE M-U-S-I-C....REDIVIVUS

Beethoven, Ludwig van / Fidelio / Leonore
Lehár, Franz / Die Lustige Witwe / Hanna Glawari
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus / Le Nozze di Figaro / Contessa d'Almaviva
Strauss, Richard / Elektra / Chrysothemis
Verdi, Giuseppe / Aida / Aida
Verdi, Giuseppe / Otello / Desdemona
Wagner, Richard / Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Eva

AND YET MORE M-U-S-I-C

Strauss, Richard / Arabella / Arabella
Strauss, Richard / Ariadne auf Naxos / Primadonna/Ariadne
Strauss, Richard / Die Frau ohne Schatten / Kaiserin
Strauss, Richard / Der Rosenkavalier / Marschallin
Wagner, Richard / Der fliegende Hollñnder / Senta
Wagner, Richard / Lohengrin / Elsa von Brabant
Wagner, Richard / Tannhñuser / Elisabeth
Wagner, Richard / Die Walküre / Sieglinde

----------------------------

"Wie wenn singen so leicht wñre! Nur Karriere-Machen ist für
Sñngerinnen und Sñnger noch schwerer. Dabei wissen sie alle von
vornherein, welche Partien zu singen sich lohnt, in welchen man auf
jeden Fall Eindruck zu schinden versteht: Partien, die sich
gewissermaßen von selber entfalten, gestalten und singen.

Daneben gibt es natürlich auch reichliche Mengen von Wurzen-Rollen, um
die man sich lieber herumdrückt; ihnen, wenn irgend möglich, aus dem
Wege singt, sie mit Kusshand den Kolleginnen und Kollegen überlñsst.
Sollen sie doch selber sehen, wie sie den Singhals am glücklichsten
aus der von Komponistenhand geknüpften Schlinge ziehen, wenn das
überhaupt möglich ist.

Es ist schon so: Um die Rolle der Irene, der bleichblütigen Schwester
des letzten römischen Tribunen Rienzi, hat sich noch keine Sñngerin je
gerissen. Das wird wohl auch Neu-Bayreuth lernen müssen, wenn es -
gegen Wagners erklñrten Willen - unter Eva oder Nike, den
Großenkelinnen auf Festspiel-Erneuerungskurs, das höchst
kürzungsfreudige musikalische Römerdrama Jung-Richards auf dem Grünen
Hügel vorzeigen will. Es sei denn, Bayreuth sprñnge eine junge
Sñngerin zu Hilfe, wie es 1983 bei der Eröffnungspremiere den Münchner
Opernfestspielen unter Wolfgang Sawallisch durch Cheryl Studer
geschah.

Vielleicht hñtte selbst Wagner seinen "Rienzi" damals schlankweg auf
"Irene" umgetauft. Cheryl Studer jedenfalls stahl ihren Mitsñngern,
trotz René Kollo, die Opern-Show. Damit macht man sich nicht gerade
bei den Kollegen beliebt, aber berühmt kann man darüber schon werden,
und Studer wurde es auf der Stelle. Es war halt eine Zeit, in der das
Feuilleton noch rundum funktionierte.

Von buchstñblich einem Tag auf den andern sah sich Studers Ruhm
etabliert. Sie durfte weltweit singen, was nur immer sie wollte, und
sie wollte viel. Ihr Repertoire schwoll, wie bei kaum einer anderen
Sñngerin, mñchtig in die Breite; und in die Höhe wuchs es, sie selber
überraschend, gleichzeitig auch.

Mit den Koloraturen der Königin der Nacht klopfte sie, zumindest auf
Schallplatten, unternehmungslustig, sogar geradezu vorwitzig an die
geheiligten Pforten von Gruberova-Land. Sie gab sich, wann und wo
irgend möglich, als Mozart-Sñngerin zu erkennen. Studers Stimme schien
sich geradezu selbststñndig gemacht zu haben: Sie sang gewissermaßen
auf dem Ausflug nach künftigen vokalen Abenteuern.

Sie war Salome, Desdemona, Semiramide, Violetta, aber gleichzeitig
auch Lucia, die Heldin von Lammermoor. Sie sang Wagner am laufenden
Band: die Senta im "Fliegenden Hollñnder", Elsa in "Lohengrin",
Elisabeth im "Tannhñuser", die "Wesendonck-Lieder": das ganze lyrische
Fach. Sie griff aus auf das Richard-Strauss-Repertoire: nach der
Chrysothemis in "Elektra" lockte "Ariadne" und natürlich die
Marschallin im "Rosenkavalier". Die Schallplatte riss sich um Studers
Mitarbeit.

Sie sang unter den bedeutendsten Dirigenten: unter Abbado, Sir Georg
Solti, Levine, Gardiner, Sinopoli. Als Partner kamen überhaupt nur
noch die feinsten Kollegen wie Placido Domingo oder Luciano Pavarotti
in Frage. Auf breiter musikalischer Front ging es stetig voran. Die
Leuchtkraft der Stimme, die Natürlichkeit des Empfindens, die
Fñhigkeit, rückentwickelnd aus altbekannten Operngestalten wieder an
ihren Schicksalen beteiligende Menschen zu machen, zeichnete Studers
schier einzigartige Kunst aus.

Die Metropolitan in New York hieß sie willkommen. Sie sang an der
Mailñnder Scala. Berlin gab ihr einen Vertrag. Die Salzburger
Festspiele ließen sich nicht lumpen. Ohne Studer schienen die Bühnen
der Welt mit einem Schlag nackt und bloß.

Was war bloß geschehen, das bald zu beunruhigen begann? Studer hatte
über das ringsum herrschende Kñstchendenken, über die Rñnder der in
immer enger geschnürten Fñchern verwahrten Rollen hinausgesungen. Sie
hatte wieder aufklingen lassen, was im 19. Jahrhundert noch
selbstverstñndlich war, da ein Ludwig Schnorr mit seinen
neunundzwanzig Jahren bereits den Tristan sang, gleichzeitig aber auch
Ottavio im "Don Giovanni", und Lilli Lehmann buchstñblich alles, was
sich von einer Frau in der Sopranlage singen ließ, mit
Selbstverstñndlichkeit, Technik und Gottvertrauen dem Publikum
vortrug. Studer versuchte, es ihr gleich zu tun.

Sie eckte damit an. An allen Ecken und Enden tauchten plötzlich
Beckmesser auf. So etwas wie künstlerisches Mobbing zeigte sich in den
bislang einhellig geheiligten Opernkulissen. Man versuchte, Cheryl
Studer verstummen zu machen. Man annulierte ihre Vertrñge. Man
versuchte, sie in mindere Rollen umzutopfen. Jeder Buhruf vom Olymp,
altgeübter leidiger Brauch, der schon Callas und Tebaldi umklungen
hatte, wurde plötzlich zu Gottes Stimme erklñrt und verklñrt.

Imponierend wiederum: Studer zog vor Gericht. Sie ließ sich diese
Missachtung ihrer Kunst, ihres Könnens nicht bieten. Sie wollte sich
nicht als Schallplatte aus Fleisch und Blut, als volltechnisierte
Singmaschine eingestuft und zwangslñufig als Künstlerin abgewertet
sehen. Sie wollte Frau bleiben dürfen: singender, jeden Abend auf
offener Bühne sich preisgebender Mensch. Man gab ihr Recht.

Das Publikum gab ihr Recht. Studers Rückkehr ins Zentrum des
musikalischen Erfolges vollzog sich in imponierend gelassenen
Schritten. Sie hat, singend, alle Querelen, die man um sie anzettelte,
hinter sich gelassen. Seither singt sie nicht mehr mit dem Rücken
gegen die Wand. Sie hat sich ihre jubilierenden Freiheiten
wiedererobert: nicht nur eine bedeutende Künstlerin, zugleich eine
tapfere Frau."

----------------------------

Born: October 24, 1955 - Midland, Michigan, USA

"The American soprano Cheryl Studer began at a very young age studying
the piano and the viola. At the age of twelve, after listening to the
album "La Callas Ó Paris", she decided that she wanted to be an opera
singer and started voice lessons in her hometown with Mrs. Gwendolyn
Pike. She spent her senior high school years at Interlochen Arts
Academy, before studying for one year at Oberlin Conservatory, near
Cleveland, Ohio. She then moved with her family to Tennessee, where
she continued her studies at the University of Tennessee at
Knoxville. Her promising talent caught Leonard Bernstein's attention
and he offered her full scholarships to study for three consecutive
summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1975 to 1977),
where she studied with Phyllis Curtin. She debuted at Tanglewood in
1976 in Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Boston Symphony
Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, who invited her for a series of concerts
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall during the 1978-
1979 season.

In the summer of 1979, she went to the Schubert Institute in Baden
bei Wien, Austria, where she attended a course for foreign students
on the art of the German Lied. Among her teachers at that summer
institute were Irmgard Seefried, Brigitte Fassbaender and Hans
Hotter. The great baritone persuaded Cheryl Studer to stay in Europe
for the year and study with him at the Hochschule für Musik und
darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

After a year in Vienna, and at Hans Hotter's urging, Cheryl Studer
auditioned for Wolfgang Sawallisch who hired her as a permanent
member of the Bavarian State Opera, where she spent two consecutive
seasons. At the end of the 1981-1982 season, she left the Munich
ensemble to join the Staatstheater Darmstadt for two seasons, before
going to Berlin to be part of the Deutsche Oper ensemble for the 1984-
195 and 1985-1986 seasons.

She sang her first big role (Violetta) as a guest artist at the
Staatstheater Braunschweig in the spring of 1983. In the summer of
that same year, the Bayerische Staatsoper called her to their Summer
Festival to sing Irene (Rienzi) and Drola (Die Feen), under Maestro
Sawallisch. She made her North American opera debut in the role of
Micaela (Carmen) in 1984 for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She caught
the world's attention for the first time at the 1985 Bayreuth
Festival, when the sang Elisabeth (Tannhñuser) under Giuseppe
Sinopoli. Since then, she has sung in the most prestigious houses in
the world: Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (debut in 1986 in Das
Rheingold as Freia), Opéra de Paris (debut the same year in Die
Zauberflöte as Pamina), San Francisco Opera (debut in Die
Meistersinger as Eva, also in 1986), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
(debut in 1987 in Tannhñuser as Elisabeth), La Scala (operatic debut
in Don Giovanni as Donna Anna in 1987), New York Metropolitan Opera
(debut in 1988 in Carmen as Micaela), Vienna State Opera (debut in
Elektra as Chrysothemis in 1989). She debuted at the Salzburg Summer
Festival that same year and in the same role.

Her repertoire reveals a soprano of exceptional versatility, perhaps
not encountered since the great Lilly Lehmann: from Mozart's Queen of
the Night, Donna Anna and Countess Almaviva, to Wagner's Sieglinde,
Elisabeth and Elsa, from Rossini's Mathilde and Semiramide to
Donizetti's Lucia, from Verdi's Odabella and Violetta to Gounod's
Marguerite and the great heroines of Richard Strauss, Cheryl Studer's
repertoire encompasses more than 70 roles.

In addition to her appearances in the most renowned opera houses of
the world, Cheryl Studer has never forgotten her first love: the
Lied. Although she has been singing Lieder since her early years, she
made her first big European tour in 1992; ever since, she has been
giving Lieder recitals in many European cities, as well as in the USA
and the Far East. Although an acclaimed interpreter of the great
Germanic Lieder composers (in particular Schubert, Brahms, Mahler,
Strauss and Hugo Wolf), she also loves Debussy's Ariettes oubliées
and Samuel Barber's songs.

Cheryl Studer also appears regularly as a concert soloist with the
world's most famous orchestras: the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin
Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the London Symphony, the
Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Boston Symphony,
the Philadelphia Orchestra, to name but a few. Her concert repertoire
includes Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Mozart's concert arias, Verdi's
Requiem, Wagner's Wesendonk-Lieder and Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder,
as well as other orchestral Lieder.

For her third summer's work as a Vocal Fellow of the Berkshire Music
Center at Tanglewood, Cheryl Studer won the 1977 High
Fidelity/Musical America Prize. The following year, she competed in
the Metropolitan Opera Auditions Finals and won the Mrs. Frederick A.
Stoughton Award. In 1979, she won the Franz-Schubert-Institut-Preis
for excellence in Lied interpretation. She received the Grand Prix du
Disque - Prix Maria Callas, in 1989. Cheryl Studer was particularly
honoured to be chosen by an international jury as the first recipient
of the International Classical Music Award in 1993 (London) in the
category Best Female Singer of the Year; in the same year, she also
received the Wilhelm Furtwñngler Prize. One year later, she was
chosen as Musical America's Vocalist of the Year (1994).

A great many recordings featuring Cheryl Studer have also received
numerous prizes, awards and distinctions. Among others: Tannhñuser
(Elisabeth - DG - G. Sinopoli): Gran Premio del disco Ritmo, Orphée
d'Or, CD Compact, Diapason d'Or; Attila (Odabella - EMI - R. Muti):
Diapason d'Or, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, L'Opera-CittÓ di
Mondovì, Musica Viva; Salome (Salome - DG - G. Sinopoli): Stella
d'Argento, Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du
disque, Edison Award, Orphée d'Or; Faust (Marguerite - EMI - M.
Plasson): Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, Choc du Monde de la
Musique, FFFF de Télérama, Orphée d'Or de l'Académie du disque
lyrique, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle
Académie du disque, Classic CD 5-Star Award; Lohengrin (Elsa - DG -
C. Abbado): FFFF de Télérama, 10 de Répertoirte, Timbre de platine
d'Opéra international, Outstanding from BBC Music Magazine; Samuel
Barber's Complete Songs (With Thomas Hampson - DG - John Browning,
piano): Caecilia Prijs, Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, First Cannes
Classical Awards, Vocal Recital, XIX/XX centuries category, Hilary
Finch's Record of the Year (BBC Music Magazine), Gramophone Awards,
Solo Vocal category; Susannah (Title role - Virgin Classics - K.
Nagano): Grammy Award; Hérodiade (Salomé - EMI - M. Plasson): Choc du
Monde de la Musique, Diapason d'Or."

----------------------------

"Sie begann ihre Ausbildung im Alter von 12 Jahren an der Interlochen
Arts Academy; dann wñhrend drei Jahren am Berkshire Music Centre in
Tanglewood Schülerin von Phyllis Curtin. 1978 gewann sie einen
Gesangwettbewerb der Metropolitan Oper New York und setzte darauf ihre
Ausbildung an der Wiener Musikakademie, u.a. bei Hans Hotter, fort.
Sie war bereits in ihrer amerikanischen Heimat als Konzertsñngerin
aufgetreten. 1980 erhielt sie ihr erstes Bühnenengagement an der
Staatsoper von München (Debüt als erste Dame in der "Zauberflöte").
1981 hatte sie dort einen aufsehenerregenden Erfolg als Marie in
Smetanas "Verkaufter Braut". 1982-84 war sie Mitglied des
Staatstheaters von Darmstadt, 1984-86 der Deutschen Oper Berlin. Es
kam dann zur Ausbildung einer großen, internationalen Karriere. 1985
hatte sie bei den Festspielen von Bayreuth einen sensationellen Erfolg
als Elisabeth im "Tannhñuser". Diese Partie wiederholte sie dort
1986-87 und 1989; 1988-90 wurde sie in Bayreuth als Elsa im
"Lohengrin" gefeiert. 1986 zu Gast an der Grand Opéra Paris als Pamina
in der "Zauberflöte" an der Covent Garden Oper London hörte man sie
1987 als Elisabeth, 1988 als Elsa, 1994 als Aida; an der Münchner
Staatsoper 1987 als Sieglinde in der "Walküre", dann als Kaiserin in
der "Frau ohne Schatten" von R.Strauss, 1996 als Arabella in der
gleichnamigen Oper von R.Strauss. An der Oper von Rom wirkte sie 1987
in einer konzertanten Aufführung von Webers "Euryanthe" mit, an der
Mailñnder Scala sang sie das Sopransolo im Verdi-Requiem. 1988
erschien sie wieder an der Grand Opéra Paris, jetzt als Elsa.
Ebenfalls 1988 kam es zu ihrem Debüt an der Metropolitan Oper New York
in der Partie der Micaela in "Carmen". 1989 übernahm sie an der
Staatsoper von Wien wie bei den Salzburger Festspielen die
Chrysothemis in "Elektra" von R.Strauss. 1989 trat sie an der
Mailñnder Scala als Elena in Verdis "I Vespri Siciliani" auf, 1991 als
Odabella in "Attila" von Verdi. 1990 sang sie an der Wiener Staatsoper
die Elsa im "Lohengrin" (mit Placido Domingo in der Titelrolle) und
die Donna Anna im "Don Giovanni", 1991 die Grñfin in "Figaros
Hochzeit", die sie auch 1995 an der Londoner Covent Garden Oper
vortrug, 1996 an der Oper von Lyon die Leonore im "Fidelio". Bei den
Salzburger Festspielen war sie 1990-91 als Elettra in Mozarts
"Idomeneo", 1992 als Kaiserin in "Die Frau ohne Schatten" von
R.Strauss 1995 als Marschallin im "Rosenkavalier", 1996 als Leonore im
"Fidelio" anzutreffen. Sie gastierte am Teatro Liceo Barcelona, am
Opernhaus Bonn und an den großen amerikanischen Bühnen, war aber nicht
weniger erfolgreich als Konzertsopranistin. Auf der Bühne lagen
Schwerpunkte ihres Repertoires im Mozart- und im Wagner-Fach, dazu in
Partien wie der Mathilde in Rossinis "Wilhelm Tell" (Mailñnder Scala),
der Elena in Verdis "Vespri Siciliani", der Marguerite im "Faust" von
Gounod und der Titelpartie in Rossinis "Semiramide". 1989 übernahm sie
in Philadelphia mit der Lucia di Lammermoor eine der großen
klassischen Koloraturpartien und unterstrich damit einmal mehr ihre
vielseitige, die Fachgrenzen übergreifende Begabung. Beim Rossini
Festival in Pesaro sang sie 1990 die Mme. Cortese in "Il Viaggio a
Reims" von Rossini.Bei der Vielzahl von Schallplattenaufnahmen kann
nur eine Übersicht gegeben werden: Ariola-Eurodisc (Walküre im
Ring-Zyklus), Orfeo ("Die Feen" von R.Wagner, Requiem von Donizetti),
HMV-Electrola (Verdi-Requiem, 9. Sinfonie von Beethoven, Elena in "I
Vespri Siciliani", Kaiserin in "Die Frau ohne Schatten" von R.Strauss,
"Attila" von Verdi, Sieglinde in der "Walküre"), DGG (Elisabeth im
"Tannhñuser", Gutrune in der "Götterdñmmerung", Elsa im "Lohengrin",
"Fierrabras" von Schubert, "Salome" von R.Strauss, "La Traviata" mit
Placido Domingo, Grñfin in "Nozze di Figaro", "Lucia di Lammermoor",
"Das klagende Lied" und 8.Sinfonie von G.Mahler, Hanna Glawari in der
"Lustigen Witwe"), Philips (Königin der Nacht in der "Zauberflöte",
Giulietta in "Hoffmanns Erzñhlungen"), Schwann ("Der Geburtstag der
Infantin" von Zemlinsky), EMI ("Faust" von Gounod, Eva in den
"Meistersingern", Salomé in "Hérodiade" von Massenet), Virgin-EMI
("Susannah" von C.Floyd); Virgin-Video (Chrysothemis in "Elektra" von
R.Strauss), Philips-Video ("Lohengrin", "Tannhñuser"), Castle-Video
("Lohengrin"), Videoland Wien ("Attila" von Verdi)."

----------------------------

And now, ladies and gentlemen, some more shibboleth-by-proxy...

FINDING GREATNESS IN STRANGE PLACES

"Amid the ongoing talk of the classical music record industry in
crisis, an odd phenomenon is taking shape: great records of repertory
chestnuts are still being made. "What's so strange about that?" you
ask. Here's what: many of these spectacular new recordings aren't
coming from the expected sources--major artists on major labels-- but
rather from, well, just about anywhere. This fact hit home hard
recently, as you will see if you read on, so I thought that this
would be a good time to examine this trend in greater detail since it
touches on many of the issues that lie at the very heart of the
current "crisis," not the least of which are some of the underlying
assumptions and expectations that we all have as listeners.

Many factors distinguish today's marketplace from that of years gone
by, but one particular difference concerns us here. For most of its
history, the classical music industry acted as an offshoot to the
business of giving live concerts. Great artists performed their
limited repertoire of certified masterpieces and their exclusive
labels backed them up with recordings documenting their careers, thus
allowing both the artists (and the labels) to capitalize on their
fame and success. This practice still exists at some of the major
labels, but on an increasingly limited basis and, more to the point,
at an ever further remove from the vast bulk of recording activity
taking place today.

The emancipation of the recording industry from its origins as an
adjunct to live concerts has had many consequences, some of them
quite beneficial to the consumer. It has permitted the release of
vast tracts of repertoire, from early and Baroque music
to "neglected" symphonists of every nationality and period, which
most people will never have the opportunity to hear live, if indeed
these works will ever be performed in concert at all. It has
permitted labels to proliferate and specialize in music of particular
periods and styles, given countless artists access to the music
loving public, and of course provided a boon to record purchasers,
even while opening up a large and frustrating (to producers) gap
between the spending habits of concertgoers as compared with those
interested in home listening.

Particularly relevant, though, are the consequences resulting from
giving so many new or little-known artists access to the general
public through the medium of recordings. Most of these performers are
largely unknown, many are mediocre, but some are fantastic, and more
to the point, in the world of music even mediocre artists often have
a few great evenings (or studio sessions) in them, and the chances
that the microphones will be ready to capture them on these special
occasions, however rare, are better than ever before. Making records
today is just so easy and cheap, technologically speaking. This in
turn raises the tantalizing possibility of discovering great music
making at virtually any point, from any source -- a possibility
that's becoming an ever more frequent occurrence if one has the time
and opportunity to listen and the willingness to do so without
prejudice or preconceptions.

In the past few months, I have had the good fortune to encounter at
least four such recordings, two of them in circumstances that make
for revealing comparisons, as recent versions of the same music
by "major" artists and ensembles have been released at roughly the
same time. These four are: the best-ever rendition of Rimsky-
Korsakov's Antar Symphony (No. 2) from Kees Bakels and the Malaysian
Philharmonic on BIS; stunning new readings of Shostakovich's
Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 from Oleg Caetani and the Giuseppe Verdi
Symphony Orchestra of Milan; a Mahler Fifth Symphony on ABC Classics
from the Melbourne Symphony under Markus Stenz that puts the recent
(perfectly respectable) Rattle/Berlin Philharmonic disc to shame; and
last but not least, Strauss' An Alpine Symphony from the Warsaw
Philharmonic led by Kazimierz Kord on CD Accord, a performance that
positively annihilates in every respect the new Thielemann/Vienna
Philharmonic snooze-fest on DG.

These releases raise interesting problems for us critics. After all,
its one thing to praise to the skies neglected genius Theodosius
Svohblcky-Dryzckiwszk's Symphony No. 31 played by the Lower Ruhr
Valley Symphony Orchestra conducted by Egbert Schuchterflecker. I
mean, who's going to know the difference? The three aging members of
England's Theodosius Svohblcky-Dryzckiwszk Society as well as any
surviving relatives will be thrilled beyond measure as a matter of
course; collectors of recordings of neglected composers -- all
hundred or so worldwide -- will want to listen anyway, and everyone
else will simply ignore the review. But telling the public that the
Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, at least in this case, don't hold a
candle to the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony, or that
true greatness may reside in the Malaysian Philharmonic (shudder), or
(the ultimate horror!) an Italian orchestra--let's just say that
there's a real issue of credibility here. As critics, we have an
obligation to report what we hear, but will we be believed? Should we
even care?

In this respect it's important to keep in mind that when it comes to
a critic's reputation, praise is far more dangerous than condemnation
(and much more difficult to write as well). If a listener disagrees
with a critic who hates a disc, he'll probably say, "He has his
opinion and I have mine, and I happen to enjoy many of the things
that this critic dislikes." No harm done. But when a reader finds
disgusting a recording that a critic raves about, then the critic
risks being labeled an incompetent with no standards, a sell-out to
commercial interests, and a musical ignoramus besides. This is
perfectly understandable. After all, that reader probably feels he
has been duped into spending his hard-earned money on crap, and hell
hath no fury like a serious collector deceived, especially one on a
limited budget.

And let's not kid ourselves: artistic reputations really do influence
listeners' perceptions, especially when part of the classical music
mystique involves the validation of one's own taste and discernment,
a goal most easily achieved by joining crowds of like-minded fans of
major artists. Don't get me wrong: there's nothing bad in this as
long as it doesn't become a fetish. The quality of music making today
is extremely high. Most major artists surely earn their stature and
popularity over time, and deserve the adulation of their fans.
Besides, like many forms of entertainment, the classical music world
has always been artist driven. People buy recordings by performers
they admire, know, and trust, never mind what they sound like, and
many (if not most) consumers have already made up their minds to like
something before the first note sounds. Unfortunately this is true of
some critics too, but that's another story.

The problem in making sincere critical praise of the unknown credible
is compounded by the fact that what we might call this "repertoire
driven" segment of the industry, the one that now dominates the new
release racks, spends very little money on marketing or promotion,
leaving it almost entirely up to chance that the public will discover
its work (or that a store will bother to stock it). This in turn
leads to the frustrating problem that even readers who might actually
be inclined to act on a critic's recommendation and risk a purchase
often have a heroic task ahead of them merely trying to find a place
where they can buy the disc. Solving these problems represents
perhaps the major challenge facing the industry today, particularly
the independent labels, and they are doing a lousy job at it on the
whole.

In prior decades, we took it on faith that major artists on major
labels, if not always representing "the best" on every occasion in
every work, at least offered standards higher then those found in,
say, Lahti, Finland or Nashville, Tennessee. Remember how odd it
seemed to us just a few years ago that Chandos would record a
Tchaikovsky symphony cycle with the Oslo Philharmonic under a no-name
called Mariss Jansons? Now we know that this prejudice in favor
of "name" artists was just plain ignorance, a fact clearly
demonstrated by the innumerable excellent recordings made by vast
numbers of superbly trained musicians the world over, in turn
supported by generous quantities of public and private money
available to artists and ensembles of every stripe. The Malaysian
Philharmonic is funded by that country's state-owned oil industry.
It's as good a band as money can buy, and I say this without a trace
of cynicism. The orchestra's fine quality speaks for itself.

So does this mean that the Malaysian Philharmonic and the other
orchestras previously mentioned are "greater" than those of Berlin or
Vienna? Of course not, or at any rate, not yet. One important aspect
of greatness must be the ability to maintain consistently high
standards over the long term. But for the critic (and the home
listener) none of that should matter. These folks have made great
records, and even if in concert they sound dreadful as often as not,
at least one document exists to prove that on at least one occasion
they stood with the very finest the world of music has to offer. As
critics, we can do our best to point this out fairly and accurately.
But it's up to the industry itself to promote these unknown artists
and ensembles, and otherwise alert the public to the fact that
there's some mighty impressive new talent out there, while at the
same time making it as easy as possible for the curious or skeptical
to sample and buy. In today's classical music world, greatness is no
longer an assumption automatically bestowed on hallowed artists and
institutions, but an ideal to be pursued, discovered, acclaimed, and
cherished wherever it may be found."

David Hurwitz
http://classicstoday.com

Postscript – "Try as you may to locate a Cheryl Studer review
(other than the justly famous Samuel Barber set) in my little
website that could --- as if nothing else had happened before and
after."

----------------------------

And why not end this session with a tad more courage?...

HOW THE PC BRIGADE IS DESTROYING OUR ORCHESTRAS
by Norman Lebrecht, "The Evening Standard"
8 October 2003

"I went along to be enlightened and came away consumed with despair
at the political realities which oblige arts managers to give up a
working day for a preach-in on multiculturalism. The symposium was
called 'Cultural Diversity and the Classical Music Industry' and it
yammered on all day yesterday in a dreary side-room at the Royal
Festival Hall, overlooking the railway cuttings. There was a sell-out
attendance from just about every classical body in Britain bigger
than a string quartet. This might make you think that the theme was
compulsive.

Compulsory is more like it. As things stand in British arts, only an
autist would dare to profess disinterest in diversity. With 7.9
percent of the population derived from ethnic minorities and the
government sloganising away about inclusion, it would have been a
brave orchestral boss who stayed away from diversity day. One manager
whispered to me that his absence would surely have been 'noted'.
There was an ominous edge to the proceedings. The organising body,
the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), had 'aligned the event
with the objectives of Arts Council England' - specifically with the
ACE's aim to make cultural diversity 'central to all that it
undertakes'. The ACE sent no fewer than ten observers to a room
holding 160. An awful lot of next year's funding must hinge on
diversity compliance.

As for sell-outs, that was the fundamental premise. The ABO,
representing a dwindling and dangerously uncool sector, was waving a
white flag of acceptance that art must, for the time being, take
second place to social engineering. Orchestras are increasingly
expected to hire 'audience development managers' and work
with 'grassroots communities' if they want to carry on playing the
symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms.

The day began combatively with a speech from Lord Moser, once
chairman of the Royal Opera House and now of the British Museum
Development Trust. Lord Moser, 81, told the apparatchiks that
orchestras 'do not deserve lectures or pressures from the arts
councils - what is lacking is on the other side of the coin, in the
education and funding systems.'

The reason orchestras have so few non-white players - only two, for
instance, in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the heart
of multicultural Midlands - is because music teaching has been
neglected in the poorest areas. State school recruitment of music
teachers was down 12 percent nationally last year. Most of those
teaching music in secondary schools were, he said, untrained in
music. Until they provide music teaching for minority children, the
authorities cannot point a finger at orchestras for failing to engage
non-whites as players, staff and audiences. 'Classical music will
always be a minority interest,' asserted Lord Moser, 'but it should
not be as much of a minority as it has been allowed to become in this
country.'

After that, it was all downhill as the diversity industry turned its
rage on the orchestral craft. Professor Lola Young, head of culture
at the Greater London Authority and previously chair of the ACE's
diversity panel, said we must 'change the look of the classical music
industry'. The professor, resplendent in an African-style headwrap,
named 'George Augustus Bridgewater', the black violinist for whom
Beethoven wrote his concerto, as a useful role model. Every classical
buff in the room knew the name was Bridgetower, but they were too
cowed to correct a dominatrix of political correctness.
Kim Evans, executive director of arts at the ACE, argued that if
diversity was good for business, it must be twice as good for
art. 'We are asking you to use your funding in different ways,' she
instructed, 'to approach audiences in different ways.' A chill set in
as she drew parallels with the ACE's assault on the theatrical
sector, which it condemned as 'institutionally racist' and then
promised to help reform. Evans urged orchestras to develop 'positive
action plans' before they were similarly sin-binned.

Roger Wright, head of Radio 3 which is getting flak from classic
lovers for its output of world music, confessed that everyone at the
BBC now undergoes 'diversity training'. Roger Lewis, head of easy-
listening Classic FM, exhorted us, perhaps ironically 'to get out of
comfort zones'.

And so it went on, a daylong drizzle of ambiguities, hypocrisies and
dissimulations that could not conceal a grim inevitability.
Diversity, or the policy that speaks its name, is a means of
diverting orchestras from what they ought to be doing, making music,
to what the Government ought to be doing, creating social harmony.
Few rose to challenge its preposterousness. Diversity is, to most of
us, a fact of life. One does not have to travel far these days to
find a cafe serving braised ostrich, or look beyond the next street
corner to realise that forced marriages, honour killings and female
circumcision exist in our midst. There are bright and dark aspects to
the mass immigration of the past 30 years.

The cultural benefits are, however, overwhelmingly heartening. The
literature, art and music of this country have been enriched beyond
measure by a generation of inter-mingling on equal terms with other
traditions. London in particular has become the hub of cross-cultural
fertilisation as Paris was between the wars and New York briefly
afterwards. Such melting-pots are made by mutual respect. No-one
wants qawwali ensembles to doff caps and sing Haydn any more than a
symphony orchestra should have to drop oboes and bang dustbin lids.
Yet that is what the diversity peddlers are pushing. Orchestras which
struggle against an already inhospitable zeitgeist are being told to
change their ways, while immigrant cultures are celebrated for their
supposed purity. It is absurd, unfair and inherently disastrous.
Sitting amid the Blairite blather, I was transported back to the
notorious Zhdanovitsa of 1948, when Soviet composers were summoned to
Leningrad to be instructed by party hacks, on pain of exile, on how
to write music for the new society. There was something of that fear
on the South Bank yesterday.

And an uglier precedent sprang to mind. The ACE's aim is to
accelerate the integration of minorities into established arts,
heedless of cultural consequences. It amounts to a mirror image of
Hitlerite policy which entailed the removal of non-aryan races from
German music, even though this would relegate the art to the margins
of civilisation. That one policy is well-intentioned and the other
unutterably evil is immaterial. What the world learned from Stalin
and Hitler is that state organs have no business meddling with
culture. That lesson is being obliterated in Britain where cultural
diversity is brandished as a weapon to intimidate the performing arts
and ultimately to emasculate them."

----------------------------


Name: paolo
Date: 04/30/2004 04:53:16 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
A Community Outreach Initiative, Part III

----------------------------

"In life, democracy.
In art, aristocracy."

--- Arturo Toscanini

----------------------------

I could say I am still under the spell of Henry James. At present, I
am reading his "The Portrait of a Lady", a nicest book. I won't
comment on it because I haven't finished yet. However, this Jamesian
Leitmotiv - Americans in Europe - led me to reach some conclusions.

In "The Portrait of a Lady", there is a most interesting character
called Henrietta Stackpole, an American patriotic journalist. On
visiting St.Peter's in Rome, she declares that "Michelangelo's dome
suffered by comparison with that of the Capitol at Washington". Miss
Stackpole has this a priori - American things are the best. Of
course, she has her reasons. With this in mind, I was thinking of
Deborah Voigt's performance as Ariadne, which is, as you could read
in my Strauss discography, incredibly boring. Naturally, Miss
Stackpole would take me for a snob and I can imagine her description
of Voigt's voice: "it has the honesty of American spirit, the
amplitude of America's land and the ingenuity of American people".
Since Deborah Voigt's and Renée Fleming's woefully inadequate performances have
been taken as models by many reviewers (whose nationality I prefer
not to reveal), I'll try to propose a group of ideas about this new
myth of the musical world - "THE AMERICAN SOPRANO".

Roland Barthes explains that a myth is a second degree of
signification. We would have an object and a symbol for this object -
a word for example. When we have a myth, we join two objects and they
make a new and original level of signification. For example, red
roses. In the first level of signification, we refer to the kind of
flowers produced of the genus 'Rosa' in the colour red. However, if
it is a guy who sends a girl red roses that would mean he is in love
with her. So we have a second level of signification - red roses + a
guy sending them to a girl = he's in love with her. The second level
has a complete new group of ideas turning around it.

The same thing happens to "American Soprano". Of course, in the first
level of analysis, an American soprano refers to a lyric female
singer whose voice has the highest tessitura among human voices who
was born in the United Stated (or, for that matter, of an American
mother or father...). However, why are we never tempted to refer to
Arleen Augér or Barbara Bonney, for example, primarily as "American
sopranos"? Because, for "American Soprano" we mean something very
different from it.

The myth of the American soprano probably started in the Bing years
in the Met, precisely in the Helen Traubel case. To start with, the
voice must be in the Henrietta Stackpole standard - wide as the
continent and solid as the American way of life. This is the premise
of this myth, but it aims something more ambitious than that. The
American soprano is the affirmative that "our [I mean, theirs] way is
the best way". The idea was that, when Ms. Traubel went to night
clubs to sing standards of the American song, she was "pulling her
hair down" and doing the real thing. In ultimate level, the American
soprano is the main character of what one calls "cross-over".
Generally, she says that - until the age of 18 - she has never heard
of opera or Lieder, that she liked blues and Ella Fitzgerald was her
idol. She also says she's a normal person and music is only her job -
that she has more in herself than just that.

These elements are fundamental to be a 100% American Soprano. When
Jessye Norman affirmed that she was definitely NOT the soprano next
door and that her youth's ideal was Leontyne Price - she lost her
claims to this position. Probably that is why she just debuted in the
temple of the American Soprano - the Metropolitan Opera House - when
she was already famous in the rest of the world. "Why does she fake a
British accent when everybody knows she was born in Georgia?", is the
comment generally applied to her when referred to by some of her
fellow citizens. Another case of desertion is Cheryl Studer. Being
born to a Swiss family, she left her home Michigan when she was 14 to
study in Germany with Hans Hotter et al. She made her name in
Bayreuth and became a national property in Munich. Of course, America
was ready to receive her back. So, an invitation to the Met was
produced and there she was singing Michaela. Magazines were claiming
that she was the new greatest thing - a kind of German repertoire
Maria Callas who had the invincible quality of singing zillions of
roles in all kind of repertoire. Things were great until she made the
crime of crimes - she paid the contract fee in order to leave the
Met's production of La Traviata. In her defense, she said that the
role of Violetta was extremely demanding and musically not rewarding.
Basically, she preferred to save her voice to Sieglinde, the Kaiserin
and Elsa. When I was in the Met for the Ring some 5 years ago, on
mentioning her name, I got as an answer "She thought she could cancel
the sponsors' evenings all the time, until we finally kicked her out -
her voice is not the same anymore". Of course, this was the
beginning of Studer's declining popularity and less and less
recordings with her were produced. Although it has become a
widespread rumour that her voice is over, Studer sang here in Rio
this year [2001] and proved to be in top form and still one of the best (if not the best)
artists to have appeared in the operatic stages in the second half of
XXth century. The Viennese, for example, never doubted that. A
saddest case involved Kathleen Battle, probably the most charming of
light lyric sopranos to appear in her generation. After a childhood
when she and her sisters were forbidden to use the local club
swimming pool and any other kind of public entertainment, Battle had
all the time of the world to dedicate to her studies. She graduated
as a music teacher and, with the support of the world's leading
conductors, she became famous in the whole world. She entered the
select club of the Salzburg Festival artists (the best paid in the
world) and was affectionately called by Herbert von Karajan
as "Kathleen". Of course, being a personal friend of James Levine,
Battle was a diva at the Met. However, the girl who was not allowed
to the swimming pool never "died" inside the worldwide famous
Ms.Battle. So, she commited capital crime no.2 for American Sopranos -
she didn't seem to be grateful to the whole world and decided to
play the cards her way now that she was famous. A campaign similar
to "We are the World" was made in American operatic stages to do away
with her. She was accused of bad temper, whimsical manners and lack
of comradeship (i.e., the dictionary definition to what a "diva" is).
Nevertheless, the girl from Ohio should have noticed that, as much as
the swimming pool, the "diva" club was not allowed to her. SHE had to
behave. Apparently, in the strict Salzburg Festival, where Agnes
Baltsa was dismissed because she decided to go to Generalprobe
without her shoes, nobody complained about Battle. Unfortunately,
Battle had made the Met too much her home. She is an American
soprano, but hasn't been an AMERICAN SOPRANO - so the world went on
without a place for her. Her fans all over the world have to content
with old recordings and to uninspiring Heidi Grant Murphy et al. If
we were speaking Edith Wharton's House of Myrth, it would be trading
Lily Bart for Grace Stepney.

So what is behind the myth of American soprano? Let's go back to
Henrietta Stackpole and her declaration that Michelangelo's Duomo
can't stand the comparison with the Washington's capitol. Opera is of
course an European form of art and, as much as we want to say
it "belongs" to the world, it remains 100% European. As a matter of
fact, we could affirm that of classical musical in a general way.
Even when it is composed by non-European musicians. And, as we know,
Western Culture doesn't hail from New York, NY (although you can find
it in quantities and prices unavailable in the rest of the world),
but from places one calls today dirty and unsafe for trip, such as
Greece and Turkey. Native North- and South- American indians didn't
produce opera. And without entering the discussion of superior and
inferior cultures, the fact is that classical music is for us in this
side of the ocean foreign art. Wagner was not a nice guy in a Norman
Rockwell painting, Handel's prime donne were unbearable shrews and
the Walküren, as much as Amneris' servants or the girls in the
cigarette factory where Carmen works don't speak English (or for that
matter not even Spanish) as native language.

So, when Jessye Norman says she is not the soprano next door, she is
affirming that, if you are born in Atlanta, Honolulu, Lima, Buenos
Aires or Rio de Janeiro, you don't have the time to be nice to your
neighbours and make speeches and cut ribbons in the opening of
supermarkets. One has hundreds of years of culture to absorb. So, one
has not only to understand, but to MASTER foreign languages, one has
to read a lot, listen a lot and to be humble enough to absorb
everything that surrounds the creation of those masterpieces the
audiences all around the world are interested about. The "Henrietta
Stackpole" attitude only leads to a complete impermeability.
Nevetheless, one wants to make of classical music something it is not
and has Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin re-inventing Bach. If we remember
that Keith Jarrett has a career as a jazz pianist and composer and,
when he decided to play Bach, he actually studied the harpsichord and
played BACH - one has the hint of what a sensible attitude is.

It is not strange that Brazil doesn't suffer the same problem. Here,
classical music is FOREIGN music as much as Japanese koto music is.
No-one whistles La Donna è Mobile in the shower or knows that there
is only ONE Valkyrie and ONE Nibelung in the title of Wagner's
operas. However, that doesn't mean that nobody cares for music. The
Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro had record sale of tickets this
year. What doesn't happen here is the search for a "next door"
attitude. Classical music is seen as a product for an elite and when
someone, whichever class he or she belongs to, decides that being a
tenor or a soprano is the career he or she wants to follow, he or she
feels that he or she has an intimate connection with a foreign
culture and won't loose time dedicating to perform samba, jazz etc.
If one wants to sing jazz, one sings jazz. If one wants to be a
soprano, one goes to a long series of studies in order to acquire all
the necessary information to perform in operatic stages. For
instance, Brazilian soprano Eliane Coelho. As soon as she decided
that singing opera was her life, she moved to Germany, where she
followed her studies and has been living in Vienna all her life. She
is a Kammersängerin and a favourite with the musicians of the Vienna
State Opera. When I was in Vienna three or four years ago, there was
a big picture of her in the right façade of the threatre, next to the
ones of Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. She appears in Brazil once
or twice a year and sings Strauss, Verdi and Puccini. She doesn't
appear in charity events, sings bossa nova or gives interviews saying
she only listen to João Gilberto at her house. Nobody expects her to
do that. Brazilian audiences are thankful for her appearances here
and for doing what she does best - being an operatic diva. When she
cancelled her Berg/R.Strauss/Wolf recital, we were very sad, because
it is so rare for us to attend such an occasion. Nobody expected her
to take a chair and a guitar and sing "The Girl from Ipanema", so
that we could say "Ah, she's a true Brazilian soprano". She will be
forever in Rio's music lovers' hearts for the wonderful performance
of Strauss' Four Last Songs in the Sala Cecília Meirelles. I was in
the third row that evening and couldn't help thinking how lovely it
was that a girl from Rio had gone to Germany and dived so deep in
German culture in order to produce such legitimate piece of
Straussian singing. And yet there was the Brazilian in her - she
doesn't have to stress that, because she IS so.

In conclusion, the myth of the American Soprano just does a bad
service to American sopranos. The world's stages have been graced by
the most thoroughly talented singers who were born in the USA and we
can add to the distinguished examples of Augér, Bonney, Norman,
Battle and many others the beautiful performances offered today by
Cheryl Studer, Deborah Polaski, Laura Aikin and (why not a mezzo?)
Susan Graham. Those are artists who seriously, little by little, have
been acquiring or already acquired the necessary knowledge - musical,
stylistic, linguistic - to master their repertoires and deserve all
the praises for that. It just makes me worry when you have a media
product such as Ms.Fleming doing things her way when she clearly
hasn't learned to do the right way first. It would be a pleasure to
see her nice voice singing from Donizetti to Strauss when she has
mastered all the necessary information to do so. Renata Scotto and Cheryl Studer took
roughly twice the time to do it and they didn't spend their youth days
crooning in students' night clubs.

----------------------------

"The dangers of life
are infinite
And safety is among them."

--- Goethe


Name: Kevin Gage
Profession: Student - Classical Voice
Date: 04/30/2004 02:48:00 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all. Opera is one of the only art forms that can really speak to everyone. From the rich to the poor the young to the old there is something out there in opera that can bring a smile to their face or a tear to their eye.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that as a whole people would react poorly to her bridging over to popular music. They would just see her as this classical artist trying to make it in the money market. I love Renee dearly she one of the only singers ever that effect me on everything that she sings but as a classical singer she would just sound like a classical singer singing popular music.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I feel that like any artform it has its ups and its downs. But classical music and opera in especially fluctuate depending on the economy. Right now it is in a slump but soon it will pick up again.


Name: Pieter le Meeg
Profession: Writer
Date: 04/29/2004 05:52:34 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It worked well for Kiri te Kanawa. Ms. Fleming is no less a talent.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I'm reminded of the oft heard death knell for the theatre. Classical music and opera will live on.


Date: 04/28/2004 07:32:40 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes, I believe that opera/classical music is extremely different from other types of music (such as pop and country). It requires a real knowledge of music and its history, and it incorporates darma into the performance, as well. Opera is the marriage between two beautiful art forms; only the best performers can pull this off.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that by singing popular music, Renee would would be undermining her great talent. Her niche is in opera and traditional music. To stray from this would only confuse those who love her work.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Endangered? I would say that it is harder to come across than before, but I wouldn't say it is going anywhere soon. Through great programs offered by local colleges and as music programs get better in High Schools, kids are discovering that not everything old is bad.


Date: 04/28/2004 01:01:45 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. Everyone can appreciate and perform this art.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

No comment.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
(Both classical music and opera)
Yea... Sometimes, Yes.


Date: 04/27/2004 04:23:43 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Opera and clasical music may be appreciated by all. The enjoyment is not limited by wealth or social status but rather by a willingness to give oneself over to the art forms. All art is open for appreciation, and therefor cannot be said to be "elitist".
There are elitists involved in opera and classical music, however, as there are in country music, avant garde music, etc. who will say that their particular art form is True: it reflects people's true emotions....It is the only truly progressive, growing art form, etc., etc. That is elitist.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I believe a singer should be able to sing what they want to sing, and what they can sing well. My understanding is that Renee began as a jazz singer. She should be able to return to her roots, as that informed and formed her classical singing voice.
We need to recognise that the styles required for effective and pleasing sound in classical, broadway, jazz, popular and folk are all different. A successful artist will employ the correct vocal styling for the type of piece being sung.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
The arts always struggle to exist, I think especially in a nation in which other forms of art and entertainment are offered free, or seemingly so
In Atlanta, our local opera company has seen a surge in attendance by younger audiences, as has our ballet company.
Still, arts education in the schools is being curtailed as unnecessary. How can we explain this?


Date: 04/27/2004 04:16:27 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
As a teenager, I initally approched opera as being a very elitist form of entertainent. Now that I have gotten to know more about the art, I love it and I am studying vocal performance. It turns out that I am talented and I am considering making a career of it. I think many people have ill-concieved apprehensions towards opera and the general air of elitism that surrounds it. It is sad when I go to an opera and I am the only person that is under age 45 in attendance. Opera is a magnificent form of vocal and personal expression through the clever inter-weaving of music and drama. I personally do not feel that opera is an elitist form of entertainment.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I approve of Renee singing popular music. I think that to be a singer, you cannot limit yourself to strictly one field of study. Why are the chord progressions in the opening scene of Die Walkure more important than those in the beginning of the song "Over the Rainbow"? I frankly do not enjoy Renee's interpretations of some pop songs, however I think to be a true artist she must still sing them because somewhere out there someone does enjoy them.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think that the general lack of knowledge about classical music is leading to the gradual diminuendo of the appreciation for it. I do believe it is endangered, and I think for us to protect it we should take a look at the ways it is being taught in public schools today.


Date: 04/27/2004 02:46:11 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. I grew up on a 600 acre farm in West Virginia. My mother, a first grade teacher, loved opera. I believe, however, that opera appeals to a certain set of sensitivities that other forms of music may not touch.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love Renee's voice and enjoy all venues of her music.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, I don't think that classical music or opera is endangered.


Name: FOTIS CARAGIANNOPOULOS
Profession: lawyer
Date: 04/27/2004 09:16:02 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no, its an elitist art form just for the lucky ones that are able to watch and hear such artists such as renee that usually sing at the met/scala/covent garden

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

serious and esoteric....enough of these crossover stuff....i love renee singing jazz but no...pop not!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
when we are all dead and the date is 1/1/2100 somewhere in the world there s gonna be a Tosca/TRaviata/Boheme performance.


Name: Claire Holdich
Profession: Music Student
Date: 04/27/2004 07:16:57 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I don't think that in itself it is, but that a majority of those who class themselves as 'opera goers' and a number of those within the business do see it as such. Opera was written for the masses and concerns topics that we all can relate to, and as such I think it is our duty to get that message to the public so that they understand how amazing it really is.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that as long as artists are capable of singing popular music with good technique and as solid background that that's fine. It's all music and should be seen as such.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think that in the last few years, classical music has taken off and a lot more artists are aware that they need to present it to the public in an accessible manner. Opera is slower to be accepted, but with the work of companies like the Savoy opera,I think it will become mroe popular.


Name: ying zhu
Profession: pianist
Date: 04/26/2004 10:18:38 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
yes, only a tiny percentage of people in America gets to experience and learn about Classical music, other than the little they get in cartoons and movies. To study and learn to play/sing Classical music is a privilege.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Ms.Fleming has a very operatic voice when she does popular/jazz music, it is interesting and I do like a few: "summertime" and "you'll never walk again", I think when the song is dramatic and has a strong melodic line, it works.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Definitely, education is the key, people in this country are not educated in music. My feeling about Opera is we need more singers like Ms. Fleming. Opera singers these days are so focus on the technical aspect of the music and not the unique sound their voice has to offer, the sound has to connect with the listener, it has to evoke emotions and excite people.


Name: Mark Bickford
Profession: Pilot
Date: 04/26/2004 06:13:42 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, the art form itself is very much underappreciated today by people of all strata of life. It is not in itself an elitist art form however, there are people close to the business of opera and classical music that would prefer it to be that way and thereby lift themselves to a higher state of being. This is not so. To me the pomp and silly snooty affectations of a formal performace is often not justified and should only be extended to those who have earned the right to such laudable praise. You, my dear, fit snugly into the latter catagory.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I somehow can see Renee bouncing around the stage like Britney Spears, but you never know, she might have fun! I would trust that Renee would know for herself what waters she might test and enjoy. I don't think such a move would detract from her standing in opera (at least to me) and may in fact bring other admirers to opera from this other art form. Think of what would happen if Nora Jones started singing opera?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No and NO.


Date: 04/26/2004 04:39:37 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No art form is inherently elitist - we do sometimes tend to make it so, however.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee can sing whatever she wishes to. If standards are kept high, there's no reason why she shouldn't sing more popular music.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, I think these are growing art forms.


Name: Tanya Henderson
Profession: scientist/author
Date: 04/26/2004 01:53:14 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Absolutely not. However, I do believe the current image of opera and classical music is seen as elitist and there are some who would like to keep it that way, but it doesn't have to be. I think if the trend in the marketing strategies these days (crossover artists, more exposure in mainstream media, and internet broadcast) continue along the path it's going, the 'elitist' label will eventually be eliminated (or one can hope this will be so).

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think Renee should do whatever she wants to do. True artists should not let popular opinion dictate their career choices.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Neither of them are endangered. As long as there are people out there willing to perform them (of which there is a surplus) as well as people out there willing to see/hear the performances (quite a few here too) the art forms will prosper.


Name: Sarah Helene Iverson
Profession: college instructor/graduate student
Date: 04/26/2004 12:24:54 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes I do. It has a essence that most other forms of music do not have. Many times it is of an euphoric quality while at other times it has a very deep and powerful dark meaning.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I believe that any artist needs to explore multiple areas of music. I would be disappointed if Renee left classical music completely. Nevertheless, I do believe that it makes a singer more diverse and powerful having the multi-level background.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think classical music is an endangered art form in its purest quality. With today's society commercializing some of the classical forms it brings the wrong impression to non-musicians. When they realize what the true form of classical music is, they do not believe that it is a quality form of music. Opera I believe is truly endangered. The support is leaving. The operattes that are being written are sometimes a mockery of what it truely represents.


Date: 04/25/2004 01:20:56 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
It certainly is.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I wouldn`t mind her doing more songs from musicals.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
It is getting less popular among young people. Opera still has a mystic touch about it, although you have to be into classical music to really enjoy it


Name: George
Profession: Writer
Date: 04/25/2004 12:41:40 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
In essence, no. Opera can be terrific entertainment, a moving spectacle with spiritual punch, in and of itself, even for listeners with no understanding of the story or music. Strictly speaking, it is "elitest" in the sense that music education and appreciation are not emphasized in public education, ticket prices are (necessarily) high and the material often arcane. But these are questions of marketing, government support, etc.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Fantastic! The wider she casts the net, the better!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
See my comments above. Books are written about this, but I think the sum is that lack of education and government support, along with predictable "greatest hits" repertoire, are the greatest dangers.


Name: Todd Blevins
Profession: Flight Paramedic
Date: 04/25/2004 04:58:43 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not in and of itself. Unfortunately, it tends to attract an elitist audience. But here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the opera is very accessible, and even sung in original languages (thank God). There needs to be more Santa Fe Operas throughout America. Opera can be done in very high quality productions without scaring the masses away.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I personally think Renee's glorious voice is wasted on popular music. But I think most classically trained singers should avoid popular music. It always seems really contrived and unnatural to me for some reason. There's still so much classical repertoire out there for Renee to explore!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes. Opera is definitely an endangered art form, especially here in America. It's a huge shame, too. The perpetual dumbing-down of America (I cite reality TV shows as the most obvious manifestation) distracts attention away from real art. Give me a "Live from the Met" broadcast on PBS over "The Apprentice" anyday. I think I'm in a distinct minority.


Date: 04/24/2004 05:51:32 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
NO! I know many people from modest backgrounds who learned about it on the radio from free public radio broadcasts. We knew it was special, even though we didn't understand the words or know the background at first. I recently met impoverished farmer from the Mississippi delta who was hooked on opera/classical music. Many people don't meet the elitist sterotype, although they might not be able to afford tickets to live performances often. It has a broad appeal but limited marketing.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I personally prefer it when she is singing less "pop". I don't mind esoteric choices. If the music is enthralling, it's great if it's something I've never heard before. In fact, I didn't fully appreciate the voice as an instrument until I heard classical music. (I was in a choir, but we sang cheesy music that didn't appeal to me so I eventually dropped out. For the same reason, my friends and I always avoided vocal recitals like the plague.) However, I'd certainly give a jazz CD a try IF she decides to do it!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Music education is sadly lacking. I never a single "music appreciation" class. I wish I had when young so I would've been exposed earlier. I didn't know I'd like classical so much! Opera and classical music will always have a following, but there needs to be a deliberate outreach to public schools to increase demand by increasing exposure/acceptance to keep it commercially viable. IF it sells, great new works will eventually work themselves into the classics over time.


Date: 04/23/2004 03:45:08 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I like everything she sings. I hope she doesn't stop the popular music to be 100% "serious."

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No to both. I was at the dentist the other day and he was playing opera over the PA system. He finds it relaxing when he does oral surgery. I loved it! (Thank goodness I wasn't the person having oral surgery.)


Date: 04/23/2004 09:57:40 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, but I believe it is probably more accessible to those who have studied music and literature. In that sense, the audience for this is probably more highly educated.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I don't have a direct opinion about this. I have not followed Renee's career, nor opera for very long. I have not been aware of this "world" in a direct way, mostly because of time constraints (Job, three children, one with significant disabilities). I stumbled across Renee's voice by accident when listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. In this sense, I believe she has reached many people. Although this would not be considered popular music, this is a means by which the general public, or, at least, those interested in these films, can access the beauty of her voice and the lovely classical score of the films. Howard Shore's scores, to me, are the soul of these films. Without them, the films would be much less powerful. In the third film, it is Renee's voice that draws me in. The score and her voice give this film an etherial, soulful quality that brings the emotions to the surface. So, my response is that I appreciate the fact that Renee contributed to this work that is so highly accessible to "the masses", and it has meant a lot to me. Somehow, the "popular music" idea sends me reeling, however. It would feel as if she had taken a step down. Perhaps I am, as stated above, an elitist!!!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No and no. But I wish more people appreciated them.


Name: Parterrebox
Date: 04/23/2004 05:58:33 AM


Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
A Community Outreach Initiative

----------------------------

"In life, democracy.
In art, aristocracy."

--- Arturo Toscanini

I could say I am still under the spell of Henry James. At present, I
am reading his "The Portrait of a Lady", a nicest book. I won't
comment on it because I haven't finished yet. However, this Jamesian
Leitmotiv - Americans in Europe - led me to reach some conclusions.

In "The Portrait of a Lady", there is a most interesting character
called Henrietta Stackpole, an American patriotic journalist. On
visiting St.Peter's in Rome, she declares that "Michelangelo's dome
suffered by comparison with that of the Capitol at Washington". Miss
Stackpole has this a priori - American things are the best. Of
course, she has her reasons. With this in mind, I was thinking of
Deborah Voigt's performance as Ariadne, which is, as you could read
in my Strauss discography, incredibly boring. Naturally, Miss
Stackpole would take me for a snob and I can imagine her description
of Voigt's voice: "it has the honesty of American spirit, the
amplitude of America's land and the ingenuity of American people".
Since Deborah Voigt's and Renée Fleming's woefully inadequate performances have
been taken as models by many reviewers (whose nationality I prefer
not to reveal), I'll try to propose a group of ideas about this new
myth of the musical world - "THE AMERICAN SOPRANO".

Roland Barthes explains that a myth is a second degree of
signification. We would have an object and a symbol for this object -
a word for example. When we have a myth, we join two objects and they
make a new and original level of signification. For example, red
roses. In the first level of signification, we refer to the kind of
flowers produced of the genus 'Rosa' in the colour red. However, if
it is a guy who sends a girl red roses that would mean he is in love
with her. So we have a second level of signification - red roses + a
guy sending them to a girl = he's in love with her. The second level
has a complete new group of ideas turning around it.

The same thing happens to "American Soprano". Of course, in the first
level of analysis, an American soprano refers to a lyric female
singer whose voice has the highest tessitura among human voices who
was born in the United Stated (or, for that matter, of an American
mother or father...). However, why are we never tempted to refer to
Arleen Augér or Barbara Bonney, for example, primarily as "American
sopranos"? Because, for "American Soprano" we mean something very
different from it.

The myth of the American soprano probably started in the Bing years
in the Met, precisely in the Helen Traubel case. To start with, the
voice must be in the Henrietta Stackpole standard - wide as the
continent and solid as the American way of life. This is the premise
of this myth, but it aims something more ambitious than that. The
American soprano is the affirmative that "our [I mean, theirs] way is
the best way". The idea was that, when Ms. Traubel went to night
clubs to sing standards of the American song, she was "pulling her
hair down" and doing the real thing. In ultimate level, the American
soprano is the main character of what one calls "cross-over".
Generally, she says that - until the age of 18 - she has never heard
of opera or Lieder, that she liked blues and Ella Fitzgerald was her
idol. She also says she's a normal person and music is only her job -
that she has more in herself than just that.

These elements are fundamental to be a 100% American Soprano. When
Jessye Norman affirmed that she was definitely NOT the soprano next
door and that her youth's ideal was Leontyne Price - she lost her
claims to this position. Probably that is why she just debuted in the
temple of the American Soprano - the Metropolitan Opera House - when
she was already famous in the rest of the world. "Why does she fake a
British accent when everybody knows she was born in Georgia?", is the
comment generally applied to her when referred to by some of her
fellow citizens. Another case of desertion is Cheryl Studer. Being
born to a Swiss family, she left her home Michigan when she was 14 to
study in Germany with Hans Hotter et al. She made her name in
Bayreuth and became a national property in Munich. Of course, America
was ready to receive her back. So, an invitation to the Met was
produced and there she was singing Michaela. Magazines were claiming
that she was the new greatest thing - a kind of German repertoire
Maria Callas who had the invincible quality of singing zillions of
roles in all kind of repertoire. Things were great until she made the
crime of crimes - she paid the contract fee in order to leave the
Met's production of La Traviata. In her defense, she said that the
role of Violetta was extremely demanding and musically not rewarding.
Basically, she preferred to save her voice to Sieglinde, the Kaiserin
and Elsa. When I was in the Met for the Ring some 5 years ago, on
mentioning her name, I got as an answer "She thought she could cancel
the sponsors' evenings all the time, until we finally kicked her out -
her voice is not the same anymore". Of course, this was the
beginning of Studer's declining popularity and less and less
recordings with her were produced. Although it has become a
widespread rumour that her voice is over, Studer sang here in Rio
this year [2001] and proved to be in top form and still one of the best (if not the best)
artists to have appeared in the operatic stages in the second half of
XXth century. The Viennese, for example, never doubted that. A
saddest case involved Kathleen Battle, probably the most charming of
light lyric sopranos to appear in her generation. After a childhood
when she and her sisters were forbidden to use the local club
swimming pool and any other kind of public entertainment, Battle had
all the time of the world to dedicate to her studies. She graduated
as a music teacher and, with the support of the world's leading
conductors, she became famous in the whole world. She entered the
select club of the Salzburg Festival artists (the best paid in the
world) and was affectionately called by Herbert von Karajan
as "Kathleen". Of course, being a personal friend of James Levine,
Battle was a diva at the Met. However, the girl who was not allowed
to the swimming pool never "died" inside the worldwide famous
Ms.Battle. So, she commited capital crime no.2 for American Sopranos -
she didn't seem to be grateful to the whole world and decided to
play the cards her way now that she was famous. A campaign similar
to "We are the World" was made in American operatic stages to do away
with her. She was accused of bad temper, whimsical manners and lack
of comradeship (i.e., the dictionary definition to what a "diva" is).
Nevertheless, the girl from Ohio should have noticed that, as much as
the swimming pool, the "diva" club was not allowed to her. SHE had to
behave. Apparently, in the strict Salzburg Festival, where Agnes
Baltsa was dismissed because she decided to go to Generalprobe
without her shoes, nobody complained about Battle. Unfortunately,
Battle had made the Met too much her home. She is an American
soprano, but hasn't been an AMERICAN SOPRANO - so the world went on
without a place for her. Her fans all over the world have to content
with old recordings and to uninspiring Heidi Grant Murphy et al. If
we were speaking Edith Wharton's House of Myrth, it would be trading
Lily Bart for Grace Stepney.

So what is behind the myth of American soprano? Let's go back to
Henrietta Stackpole and her declaration that Michelangelo's Duomo
can't stand the comparison with the Washington's capitol. Opera is of
course an European form of art and, as much as we want to say
it "belongs" to the world, it remains 100% European. As a matter of
fact, we could affirm that of classical musical in a general way.
Even when it is composed by non-European musicians. And, as we know,
Western Culture doesn't hail from New York, NY (although you can find
it in quantities and prices unavailable in the rest of the world),
but from places one calls today dirty and unsafe for trip, such as
Greece and Turkey. Native North- and South- American indians didn't
produce opera. And without entering the discussion of superior and
inferior cultures, the fact is that classical music is for us in this
side of the ocean foreign art. Wagner was not a nice guy in a Norman
Rockwell painting, Handel's prime donne were unbearable shrews and
the Walküren, as much as Amneris' servants or the girls in the
cigarette factory where Carmen works don't speak English (or for that
matter not even Spanish) as native language.

So, when Jessye Norman says she is not the soprano next door, she is
affirming that, if you are born in Atlanta, Honolulu, Lima, Buenos
Aires or Rio de Janeiro, you don't have the time to be nice to your
neighbours and make speeches and cut ribbons in the opening of
supermarkets. One has hundreds of years of culture to absorb. So, one
has not only to understand, but to MASTER foreign languages, one has
to read a lot, listen a lot and to be humble enough to absorb
everything that surrounds the creation of those masterpieces the
audiences all around the world are interested about. The "Henrietta
Stackpole" attitude only leads to a complete impermeability.
Nevetheless, one wants to make of classical music something it is not
and has Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin re-inventing Bach. If we remember
that Keith Jarrett has a career as a jazz pianist and composer and,
when he decided to play Bach, he actually studied the harpsichord and
played BACH - one has the hint of what a sensible attitude is.

It is not strange that Brazil doesn't suffer the same problem. Here,
classical music is FOREIGN music as much as Japanese koto music is.
No-one whistles La Donna è Mobile in the shower or knows that there
is only ONE Valkyrie and ONE Nibelung in the title of Wagner's
operas. However, that doesn't mean that nobody cares for music. The
Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro had record sale of tickets this
year. What doesn't happen here is the search for a "next door"
attitude. Classical music is seen as a product for an elite and when
someone, whichever class he or she belongs to, decides that being a
tenor or a soprano is the career he or she wants to follow, he or she
feels that he or she has an intimate connection with a foreign
culture and won't loose time dedicating to perform samba, jazz etc.
If one wants to sing jazz, one sings jazz. If one wants to be a
soprano, one goes to a long series of studies in order to acquire all
the necessary information to perform in operatic stages. For
instance, Brazilian soprano Eliane Coelho. As soon as she decided
that singing opera was her life, she moved to Germany, where she
followed her studies and has been living in Vienna all her life. She
is a Kammersängerin and a favourite with the musicians of the Vienna
State Opera. When I was in Vienna three or four years ago, there was
a big picture of her in the right façade of the threatre, next to the
ones of Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. She appears in Brazil once
or twice a year and sings Strauss, Verdi and Puccini. She doesn't
appear in charity events, sings bossa nova or gives interviews saying
she only listen to João Gilberto at her house. Nobody expects her to
do that. Brazilian audiences are thankful for her appearances here
and for doing what she does best - being an operatic diva. When she
cancelled her Berg/R.Strauss/Wolf recital, we were very sad, because
it is so rare for us to attend such an occasion. Nobody expected her
to take a chair and a guitar and sing "The Girl from Ipanema", so
that we could say "Ah, she's a true Brazilian soprano". She will be
forever in Rio's music lovers' hearts for the wonderful performance
of Strauss' Four Last Songs in the Sala Cecília Meirelles. I was in
the third row that evening and couldn't help thinking how lovely it
was that a girl from Rio had gone to Germany and dived so deep in
German culture in order to produce such legitimate piece of
Straussian singing. And yet there was the Brazilian in her - she
doesn't have to stress that, because she IS so.

In conclusion, the myth of the American Soprano just does a bad
service to American sopranos. The world's stages have been graced by
the most thoroughly talented singers who were born in the USA and we
can add to the distinguished examples of Augér, Bonney, Norman,
Battle and many others the beautiful performances offered today by
Cheryl Studer, Deborah Polaski, Laura Aikin and (why not a mezzo?)
Susan Graham. Those are artists who seriously, little by little, have
been acquiring or already acquired the necessary knowledge - musical,
stylistic, linguistic - to master their repertoires and deserve all
the praises for that. It just makes me worry when you have a media
product such as Ms.Fleming doing things her way when she clearly
hasn't learned to do the right way first. It would be a pleasure to
see her nice voice singing from Donizetti to Strauss when she has
mastered all the necessary information to do so. Renata Scotto and Cheryl Studer took
roughly twice the time to do it and they didn't spend their youth days
crooning in students' night clubs.

----------------------------

"The dangers of life
are infinite
And safety is among them."

--- Goethe


Name: Parterrebox
Date: 04/23/2004 05:55:11 AM


Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
A Community Outreach Initiative

----------------------------

"In life, democracy.
In art, aristocracy."

--- Arturo Toscanini

3D. "Oh but it does mean something, it does", we say. So the "average
music lover" has become the barometer of quality and relevance?
Indeed they don't deserve Muti, Abbado, or Chailly (however much they
deserve the three-minute-aria-cum-top-ten-hit and however little they
give a dime or deserve whatever happens before and after the
goddamn Big Tune). And is the Hulun Hu Tympany Orchestra really
better than Amsterdam, Dresden, Berlin or Vienna? (although, truth be
told, too many of us have heard the Vienna, for one, play and sound
like a school of simians under the stick shift of a colonized and
assimilated but loyal to Queen Mum, and thus celebrated, Indian
cabbie).

3E. And Cheryl Studer, she's not one of the unwashed, is she? Were
they her contemporaries, would Mr. Heymann have singled out Callas,
Tebaldi, Sutherland, or Caballé, to name but a few, in his lowly,
opportunistic manner? After all, they were/are *Daughters Of
Lucifer*, to our benefit. Presumably naXos treats its "illustrious"
roster with more dignity, respect, and vocal support. Speaking of
vocal support, perhaps the crafty and clever Mr. Heymann is unaware
that *his own* Floria Tosca (Madame Nelly Miri-a-e-i-o-u --- "más
sabe el burro que tú") has reportedly bombed in this and other roles
numerous times in numerous places. However, these catastrophes have
failed to make a dent in the armory of the "cognoscenti" and their
media spokespeople, strangely. For those not "in the know", Madame M
is rumoured to be the Bastard Child of the Incestuous Union of the
Twins Callas and Heymann, now all grown and matured into a very 'Rare
Opera' singer complete with numerous fancifully edited recordings to
her name. No matter.

4. Many of us have heard naXos' Caruso edition (and not just naXos')
(mind you, not that the long-deceased tenor is remotely a Heymann
discovery/original --- and neither are --- not one --- any of the
others --- not one --- that Sir Heymann & Co. keep dumping as
remasterings upon this reverential but funereal shopping cart --- and
for the record, not one of Heymann's living artists –not one-
resembles a so-called personality or great voice). We have to wonder
what Mr. Heymann's authoritative producers and editors (and his Public
Relationists) would have made of the great man today
for violating at least a couple of standards of sound conduct such as
throat-clearing smack in the middle of a take and a glaring false
entry at the beginning of another? And what of the poor pianist?
Good God.

----------------------------

Considering the Grand Meltdown (not lacking the "Grand Manner" you so
prefer – or do you?) of new opera recordings (on Compact Disc alone?)
from the Universal Classics family of labels (DGG, DECCA,
Philips)....and now from Sony and EMI Classics too....let
us take a Long and Hard (as you like it) look at the following
repertorium ---

* Title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, rec 8/90, London SO,
Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Hanna Glawari in Lehar's Lustige Witwe, rec 1/94, Vienna PO,
Gardiner, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 1-2/94, Vienna PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 5/91, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Rossini's Semiramide, rec 7/92, London SO, Marin,
Lucifer Classics

* Florinda in Schubert's Fierrabras, rec 5/88, Chamber Orch of
Europe, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in R. Strauss' Salome, rec 12/90, Deutsche Oper Berlin,
Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, rec 6/93, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto Act III, rec 9/91, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, rec 5/93, Opéra Bastille, Chung,
Lucifer Classics

* Violetta in Verdi's Traviata, rec 1/91, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '88, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '89, Bayreuth, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Senta in Wagner's fliegende Hollñnder, rec 1/91, Deutsche Oper
Berlin, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gutrune in Wagner's Götterdñmmerung, rec 5/89, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Floyd's Susannah, rec 3/94, Opéra de Lyon, Nagano,
Lucifer Classics

* Marguerite in Gounod's Faust, rec 2/91, Toulouse, Plasson, Lucifer
Classics

* Salomé in Massenet's Hérodiade, rec 11-12/94, Toulouse, Plasson,
Lucifer Classics

* Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, rec 9/90, Vienna PO, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Konstanze in Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail, rec 4/91, Vienna
Symphony, Weil, Lucifer Classics

* Queen of the Night in Mozart's Zauberflöte, rec 7/89, ASMF,
Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* Giulietta in Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann, rec 87/88/89, Dresden
Staatskapelle, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Matilde in Rossini's Guglielmo Tell, rec 12/88, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Madama Cortese in Rossini's Viaggio a Reims, rec 10/92, Berlin PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Spohr's Jessonda, rec '84, ORF Orchestra, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 1/90, Bavarian RSO,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 6/89, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec 2-12/87, Bavarian
RSO, Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec '92, Vienna PO,
Solti, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Verdi's Aida, rec 6/94, Covent Garden, Downes,
Lucifer Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6-7/89, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6/90, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Elena in Verdi's Vespri Siciliani, rec 12/89-1/90, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Drolla in Wagner's Die Feen, rec 7/83, Bavarian RSO, Sawallisch,
Lucifer Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec 6/90, Bayreuth, Schneider, Lucifer
Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec '90, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Eva in Wagner's Meistersinger, rec 4/93, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Irene in Wagner's Rienzi, rec 7/83, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Ortlinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 8/81, Dresden Staatskapelle,
Janowski, Lucifer Classics

* Sieglinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 2-3/88, Bavarian RSO, Haitink,
Lucifer Classics

* Zemlinsky's Der Geburtstagder Infantin, rec 83, Berlin RSO,
Albrecht, Lucifer Classics

* Coloratura Arias by Bellini (Sonnambula/Norma), Verdi
(Traviata/Trovatore), Donizetti (Lucia/Lucrezia Borgia), Rossini
(Barbiere/Semiramide), rec 4/89, Munich RSO, Ferro, Lucifer Classics

* Mozart Arias
(Entführung/Zauberflöte/Idomeneo/Nozze/Giovanni/Clemenza/Cosi), rec
9/89, ASMF, Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder/Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder/Isolde's
Liebestod, rec 1/93, Dresden Staatskapelle, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Isolde's Liebestod, rec 1/88, Bavarian RSO, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Wagner Gala (Tannhñuser/Lohengrin/Meistersinger/Walküre), rec
12/93, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* First Europakonzert - in Prague (Mozart: "Non mi dir"/"Ch'io mi
scordi di te-Non temer amato bene"), rec 5/91, Berlin PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Covent Garden Gala (Otello/Traviata/Fledermaus), rec 7/88, Covent
Garden, Barker, Lucifer Classics

* Sacred Works
(Bach/Schubert/Mendelssohn/Handel/Mozart/Gounod/Faure/Poulenc/Bernstei
n/Bruch), rec 3/91, London SO, Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Samuel Barber Songs, rec 9/92, Browning (R.I.P.), Emerson String
Quartet, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, rec 8/91, Vienna PO, Levine, Lucifer
Classics

* Beethoven in Berlin (Ah! Perfido/Choral Fantasy/Egmont), rec 12/91,
Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Brahms' German Requiem, rec 10/92, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Schubert Lieder, rec 1/90, Gage, Lucifer Classics

* Salzburg Recital (R. Strauss/Schubert/Debussy), rec 8/92, Gage,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Klagende Lied, rec 11/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 2, rec 11/92, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 11-12/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 1/94, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 6/87, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 11/91, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, rec 4/89, Philadelphia Orchestra, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Bruckner's Mass in F Min/Mozart's Vespers, rec 3/77, MIT Choral
Society, Oliver, Lucifer Classics

* Donizetti's Requiem, rec 1/84, Bamberg SO, Gómez-Martínez, Lucifer
Classics

* von Schweinitz's Messe Op. 21, rec 7/84, RSO Berlin, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss Choral Works, rec 9/84, RIAS Kammerchor, Gronostay,
Creed, Lucifer Classics


"L-A Ú-L-T-I-M-A..........que ríe, ríe mejor."


Bravissima Cheryl Studer, verlorene Tochter. Very beautifully and
exquisitely done. A most wonderful, exemplary, and unforgettable
legacy, a legacy of e-x-c-e-p-t-i-o-n-a-l q-u-a-l-i-t-y and d-i-
s-t-i-n-c-t-i-o-n. Thank you for u-n-c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-i-n-g
Artistry of u-n-c-o-m-m-o-n i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-c-e and i-n-s-t-i-
n-c-t --- the work of a consummate being. Thank you. Thank you for
Dedication, Seriousness, and Integrity. Thank you for remaining True
to your self, to the artform (on life-support as it is...and counting
down), and to m-u-s-i-c. Good Music. Thank you for a Universe of
Sound and Texture and Expression and Communication a-l-l o-f
y-o-u-r o-w-n. Thank you for g-e-n-e-r-o-s-i-t-y. Thank you for
H-i-g-h I-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l-i-t-y. And (to boot) individuality within
the bondage of and respect for the T-r-a-d-i-t-i-o-n.

Thank You.

And thank you too, Universal, EMI and Sony, for having had the
foreskin to recognize and capture genius (we know, we know – but
worse has been written and said about the artist) in our midst while
the going was good (now that these dinosaurs' [delusional] populist
causes, causes lately so palatable to the Anglo/Judeo-centric and
their Axes-[oh irony!]-Of-Love, have caused them to
trim....ouch....their future....for that squeaky clean look and
sound....and potent[ial] self-extinction).

----------------------------

And now, a little something to ponder about ---

"Things got pretty rough at the last Philharmonic concert. A bitter
battle broke out over Liszt's 'Mephisto Waltz.' It was the standees
and a part of the gallery, resolved to give their all, against the
parterre, the mountain against the marsh. On the one side we had
youth, intelligence, idealism, good judgement, enthusiasm and
conviction; on the other dullness, frivolity, debility, ignorance,
arrogance, materialism. Such were the contending forces.

There was a lot of applause, but a lot of hissing, too. Since, as we
all know, these Semitic hissing sounds traditionally served
the 'chosen people' as shibboleth in combat with their neighbors, it
was not hard to determine who it was that so emphatically proclaimed
both their dissent and their identity. Indeed, these 'chosen people'
habitually make a great show of their exquisite taste. They are
always ready to recognize in Beethoven a good composer. And yet there
are those who see nothing heroic in the courage of such convictions.
What, then, can we call courageous? Let it pass. These excellent and
generous souls will surely enrich the National Guard with a doughty
legion of tailors, and thus be of service to the state. You can take
an oath on that.

To take seriously the ludicrous behavior of these worthy parterre
subscribers toward the works of a genius such as Liszt would be like
punishing children's bad manners with the rack. We are not so cruel.
But it is well to look for what it is that causes the public to
behave like an ill-mannered child and to think like a well-groomed
cad. How is it, we ask, that Liszt's compositions are rejected by the
majority of our degenerate public? The answer is made uncommonly easy
for me, since it is contained in the question. But then why, someone
could object, do Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., appeal to this same
degenerate public? The objection is so banal, the answer so obvious,
that any blockhead could handle it easily. But should someone choose
to ask me what I mean by degenerate public, I accept the challenge
gladly, and am ready with the answer: a degenerate public is one that
is content to be the ward of a degenerate press.

It is a public of newspaper readers. That is the source of all other
evils. That is the source of the thoughtlessness, frivolity,
dependence, distraction, insensibility and, above all, the bias
against those works condemned to death by the press. If this were an
ingenuous public, it would not tolerate for another day the shameful
chains it now fastens to itself voluntarily. But the habit of cud-
chewing has already become too delightful to permit the slightest
effort to use one's own teeth. Thus, this public receives its
impression of a work of art not directly, but from the review in the
newspaper, to be had in concrete form for a patent. Go then to the
apothecary, and buy yourselves some nux vomica or some other
purgative if you want to have an impression. The effect remains
essentially the same, and you spare yourselves the price of the
ticket. And so a public, the despicable tool of a despicable press,
will pass judgement on the works of a genius! A sluggardly mob that
enters the concert hall as if it were a toy store, reduces the
noblest possessions of mankind to idle diversions, and then, if that
is not satisfactory, arrogantly turns its back on the work of art and
ceremoniously hisses...fie, fie, and once again fie!!!

Given such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Liszt's
original compositions have excited a lively 'for' and 'against'
whenever they have been played in Vienna. This time the applause from
the standees was still far from constituting a demonstration when a
few hot headed Philistines signalled, stupidly enough, the
shibboleth. That was pouring oil on fire. The applause grew louder,
and rightly so, since it was directed no less at the splendid
accomplishment of the orchestra and its conductor, Hans Richter, than
at the work itself. And did not the wonderful performance of this
Lisztian composition merit the most extravagant praise? What did
Liszt's admirers do to excite the drowsy parterre to a counter-
demonstration? They were simply giving due honor to service
rendered."

Hugo Wolf
Vienna
25 April 1886

----------------------------

A HARPSICHORD GLISTENS AND TRIUMPHS

You and I, we know that something in the air is profoundly d-e-g-e-n-
e-r-a-t-e when a nobody of a harpsichordist and her twinklin' little
instrument command more respect and accolades and anal(ysis)
from 'the chosen people' (The Rake's Progress --
http://www.operajaponica.org/reviews/dvd/rake96dvd.htm) than those
ass-igned a certain soprano.

{{It is a delight to find an ebullient, effective recording on DVD.
There are some flaws, to be sure, but overall this disc provides an
exciting and entertaining evening of opera. Credit must be
distributed liberally among composer, librettist, cast, conductor,
orchestra, designer and recording crew.

The central voice in this opera is that of the rake himself and it is
difficult to picture a more effective one than Jerry Hadley. He seems
to find the music easy, which is as it should be, and he realizes
the 'progress' by effective acting with voice and body. Upshaw is
hardly less attractive as his true love. Her challenges are primarily
vocal and she conquers them so easily that one does not even hear
that they were encountered. Pederson is a bit less satisfying,
presenting a colorless devil accurately; one would hope for
more 'bite' in the character and in other productions one finds a
more interesting and less shadowy Nick. This reviewer found the
casting of Henschel as Baba disturbing since it appears to exploit
her physique; still, she delivers a fine performance so presumably
was comfortable with the casting. Those four and all the other
soloists show exemplary enunciation and accuracy; even the chorus is
generally understandable.

The production is remarkable with brilliant sets and costumes
prompting the viewer to look forward to the insights offered in the
next scene. While some of the choices need a second viewing to
decipher, none so dominates the stage that it distracts from the
performance. Tom's jeans and tee shirt are consistent even as he
achieves and loses wealth; the implication that he is the same man
throughout is clear and relevant, while simply adding a hat shows his
advancement. Makeup is used effectively, with reality reflected in
the natural appearance of Ann throughout and Tom at the beginning and
the end, where grotesquerie is used when he is dissolute. Why, then,
the artifice for Trulove and the near-natural appearance (beard
aside) of Baba? More viewings will be needed to appreciate those.

Technically, the disc ranks among the best of its era. The picture is
crisp throughout. Sound is effective stereo without surround; clarity
is exemplary and Ann Beckman's harpsichord glistens without blaring -
just right in performance and in recording. Subtitles are in English
only and cannot be suppressed; that is unfortunate since their style
and color (yellow) are sometimes diverting and they are superfluous
in this performance.

Overall, the word for this disc is 'delightful'. It rewards repeated
viewing and serves the work well.}}


Now consider this shibboleth-by-proxy...

http://www.operajaponica.org/reviews/dvd/aidaroh94dvd.htm

Verdi: AIDA

Reviewed by Mickey (Mouse) Richter
27 May 2002

Cast: Cheryl Studer (Aida), Luciana d'Intino (Amneris), Dennis
O'Neill (Radames), Alexandru Agache (Amonasro), Robert Lloyd
(Ramfis), Mark Beesley (Il Re), John Marsden (Messenger), Yvonne
Barclay (Sacerdotta), Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House,
Covent Garden, Sir Edward Downes (conductor). Elijah Moshinsky
(director)


{{One can now prove that it is possible to make a performance of Aida
dull. Singing and conducting are altogether competent, but the only
elements of this release which enliven the work are those of the
production - and they are more often confusing or distracting than
constructive. Lloyd infuses some life into his character, but Beesley
is both vocally and dramatically subpar. D'Intino has some moments of
expression but they are not those most needed; the opening scene of
Act IV, for example, is flaccid. Studer, O'Neill and Agache sing all
the notes and none of the music. Many points in the score are
marked 'a piacere', but the pleasure of the artists appears to be to
do nothing at all. The effect is altogether colorless - a grey and
pointless recitation of one of the most vibrant scores in opera.

Color is present on the screen in profusion, thanks to the striking
sets and costumes. Unfortunately, those bear little relationship to
action in the work. Where the banks of the Nile seem to be
represented in Act III by poles topped by cat figures, the same
symbol is carried into the first scene of Act IV, clearly suggesting
that the designer had something else in mind. It is difficult to
believe that the stunning, traditional production of the La Scala
Aida with Chiara and Pavarotti came from the same director as this
one. Characters mill about on stage, doing mysterious things and
thereby diverting attention from what is written and what is being
sung. For this reviewer, any production requiring explanation is in
and of itself faulty.

Technically, this disc is fine with clear sound and picture. Large's
direction is in line with his preference for extreme closeup. Many
find that distracting even on tape; on DVD, often seen on a large
screen, it can be even less attractive, but that is a matter of
personal taste.}}


And thus spoke our hero. We re-quote:

{{One can now prove that it is possible to make a performance of Aida
dull. Singing and conducting are altogether competent, but the only
elements of this release which enliven the work are those of the
production - and they are more often confusing or distracting than
constructive. Lloyd infuses some life into his character, but Beesley
is both vocally and dramatically subpar. D'Intino has some moments of
_expression but they are not those most needed; the opening scene of
Act IV, for example, is flaccid. Studer, O'Neill and Agache sing all
the notes and none of the music. Many points in the score are
marked 'a piacere', but the pleasure of the artists appears to be to
do nothing at all. The effect is altogether colorless - a grey and
pointless recitation of one of the most vibrant scores in opera.}}

Let us ponder some more:

"Things got pretty rough at the last Philharmonic concert. A bitter
battle broke out over Liszt's 'Mephisto Waltz.' It was the standees
and a part of the gallery, resolved to give their all, against the
parterre, the mountain against the marsh. On the one side we had
youth, intelligence, idealism, good judgement, enthusiasm and
conviction; on the other dullness, frivolity, debility, ignorance,
arrogance, materialism. Such were the contending forces.

There was a lot of applause, but a lot of hissing, too. Since, as we
all know, these Semitic hissing sounds traditionally served
the 'chosen people' as shibboleth in combat with their neighbors, it
was not hard to determine who it was that so emphatically proclaimed
both their dissent and their identity. Indeed, these 'chosen people'
habitually make a great show of their exquisite taste. They are
always ready to recognize in Beethoven a good composer. And yet there
are those who see nothing heroic in the courage of such convictions.
What, then, can we call courageous? Let it pass. These excellent and
generous souls will surely enrich the National Guard with a doughty
legion of tailors, and thus be of service to the state. You can take
an oath on that.

To take seriously the ludicrous behavior of these worthy parterre
subscribers toward the works of a genius such as Liszt would be like
punishing children's bad manners with the rack. We are not so cruel.
But it is well to look for what it is that causes the public to
behave like an ill-mannered child and to think like a well-groomed
cad. How is it, we ask, that Liszt's compositions are rejected by the
majority of our degenerate public? The answer is made uncommonly easy
for me, since it is contained in the question. But then why, someone
could object, do Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., appeal to this same
degenerate public? The objection is so banal, the answer so obvious,
that any blockhead could handle it easily. But should someone choose
to ask me what I mean by degenerate public, I accept the challenge
gladly, and am ready with the answer: a degenerate public is one that
is content to be the ward of a degenerate press.

It is a public of newspaper readers. That is the source of all other
evils. That is the source of the thoughtlessness, frivolity,
dependence, distraction, insensibility and, above all, the bias
against those works condemned to death by the press. If this were an
ingenuous public, it would not tolerate for another day the shameful
chains it now fastens to itself voluntarily. But the habit of cud-
chewing has already become too delightful to permit the slightest
effort to use one's own teeth. Thus, this public receives its
impression of a work of art not directly, but from the review in the
newspaper, to be had in concrete form for a patent. Go then to the
apothecary, and buy yourselves some nux vomica or some other
purgative if you want to have an impression. The effect remains
essentially the same, and you spare yourselves the price of the
ticket. And so a public, the despicable tool of a despicable press,
will pass judgement on the works of a genius! A sluggardly mob that
enters the concert hall as if it were a toy store, reduces the
noblest possessions of mankind to idle diversions, and then, if that
is not satisfactory, arrogantly turns its back on the work of art and
ceremoniously hisses...fie, fie, and once again fie!!!

Given such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Liszt's
original compositions have excited a lively 'for' and 'against'
whenever they have been played in Vienna. This time the applause from
the standees was still far from constituting a demonstration when a
few hot headed Philistines signalled, stupidly enough, the
shibboleth. That was pouring oil on fire. The applause grew louder,
and rightly so, since it was directed no less at the splendid
accomplishment of the orchestra and its conductor, Hans Richter, than
at the work itself. And did not the wonderful performance of this
Lisztian composition merit the most extravagant praise? What did
Liszt's admirers do to excite the drowsy parterre to a counter-
demonstration? They were simply giving due honor to service
rendered."

Hugo Wolf
Vienna
25 April 1886

----------------------------

M-U-S-I-C OF THE FUTURE

Berg, Alban / Wozzeck / Marie
Tchaïkowsky, Piotr Ilyich / Evgeny Onegin / Tatyana
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus / Così fan tutte / Fiordiligi
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus / Don Giovanni / Donna Elvira
Puccini, Giacomo / Manon Lescaut / Manon Lescaut
Puccini, Giacomo / Tosca / Tosca
Strauss, Richard / Capriccio / Grñfin
Strauss, Richard / Salome / Salome
Verdi, Giuseppe / Un Ballo in Maschera / Amelia
Verdi, Giuseppe / Don Carlo / Elisabetta
Wagner, Richard / Tristan und Isolde / Isolde

MORE M-U-S-I-C....REDIVIVUS

Beethoven, Ludwig van / Fidelio / Leonore
Lehár, Franz / Die Lustige Witwe / Hanna Glawari
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus / Le Nozze di Figaro / Contessa d'Almaviva
Strauss, Richard / Elektra / Chrysothemis
Verdi, Giuseppe / Aida / Aida
Verdi, Giuseppe / Otello / Desdemona
Wagner, Richard / Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg / Eva

AND YET MORE M-U-S-I-C

Strauss, Richard / Arabella / Arabella
Strauss, Richard / Ariadne auf Naxos / Primadonna/Ariadne
Strauss, Richard / Die Frau ohne Schatten / Kaiserin
Strauss, Richard / Der Rosenkavalier / Marschallin
Wagner, Richard / Der fliegende Hollñnder / Senta
Wagner, Richard / Lohengrin / Elsa von Brabant
Wagner, Richard / Tannhñuser / Elisabeth
Wagner, Richard / Die Walküre / Sieglinde

----------------------------

"Wie wenn singen so leicht wñre! Nur Karriere-Machen ist für
Sñngerinnen und Sñnger noch schwerer. Dabei wissen sie alle von
vornherein, welche Partien zu singen sich lohnt, in welchen man auf
jeden Fall Eindruck zu schinden versteht: Partien, die sich
gewissermaßen von selber entfalten, gestalten und singen.

Daneben gibt es natürlich auch reichliche Mengen von Wurzen-Rollen, um
die man sich lieber herumdrückt; ihnen, wenn irgend möglich, aus dem
Wege singt, sie mit Kusshand den Kolleginnen und Kollegen überlñsst.
Sollen sie doch selber sehen, wie sie den Singhals am glücklichsten
aus der von Komponistenhand geknüpften Schlinge ziehen, wenn das
überhaupt möglich ist.

Es ist schon so: Um die Rolle der Irene, der bleichblütigen Schwester
des letzten römischen Tribunen Rienzi, hat sich noch keine Sñngerin je
gerissen. Das wird wohl auch Neu-Bayreuth lernen müssen, wenn es -
gegen Wagners erklñrten Willen - unter Eva oder Nike, den
Großenkelinnen auf Festspiel-Erneuerungskurs, das höchst
kürzungsfreudige musikalische Römerdrama Jung-Richards auf dem Grünen
Hügel vorzeigen will. Es sei denn, Bayreuth sprñnge eine junge
Sñngerin zu Hilfe, wie es 1983 bei der Eröffnungspremiere den Münchner
Opernfestspielen unter Wolfgang Sawallisch durch Cheryl Studer
geschah.

Vielleicht hñtte selbst Wagner seinen "Rienzi" damals schlankweg auf
"Irene" umgetauft. Cheryl Studer jedenfalls stahl ihren Mitsñngern,
trotz René Kollo, die Opern-Show. Damit macht man sich nicht gerade
bei den Kollegen beliebt, aber berühmt kann man darüber schon werden,
und Studer wurde es auf der Stelle. Es war halt eine Zeit, in der das
Feuilleton noch rundum funktionierte.

Von buchstñblich einem Tag auf den andern sah sich Studers Ruhm
etabliert. Sie durfte weltweit singen, was nur immer sie wollte, und
sie wollte viel. Ihr Repertoire schwoll, wie bei kaum einer anderen
Sñngerin, mñchtig in die Breite; und in die Höhe wuchs es, sie selber
überraschend, gleichzeitig auch.

Mit den Koloraturen der Königin der Nacht klopfte sie, zumindest auf
Schallplatten, unternehmungslustig, sogar geradezu vorwitzig an die
geheiligten Pforten von Gruberova-Land. Sie gab sich, wann und wo
irgend möglich, als Mozart-Sñngerin zu erkennen. Studers Stimme schien
sich geradezu selbststñndig gemacht zu haben: Sie sang gewissermaßen
auf dem Ausflug nach künftigen vokalen Abenteuern.

Sie war Salome, Desdemona, Semiramide, Violetta, aber gleichzeitig
auch Lucia, die Heldin von Lammermoor. Sie sang Wagner am laufenden
Band: die Senta im "Fliegenden Hollñnder", Elsa in "Lohengrin",
Elisabeth im "Tannhñuser", die "Wesendonck-Lieder": das ganze lyrische
Fach. Sie griff aus auf das Richard-Strauss-Repertoire: nach der
Chrysothemis in "Elektra" lockte "Ariadne" und natürlich die
Marschallin im "Rosenkavalier". Die Schallplatte riss sich um Studers
Mitarbeit.

Sie sang unter den bedeutendsten Dirigenten: unter Abbado, Sir Georg
Solti, Levine, Gardiner, Sinopoli. Als Partner kamen überhaupt nur
noch die feinsten Kollegen wie Placido Domingo oder Luciano Pavarotti
in Frage. Auf breiter musikalischer Front ging es stetig voran. Die
Leuchtkraft der Stimme, die Natürlichkeit des Empfindens, die
Fñhigkeit, rückentwickelnd aus altbekannten Operngestalten wieder an
ihren Schicksalen beteiligende Menschen zu machen, zeichnete Studers
schier einzigartige Kunst aus.

Die Metropolitan in New York hieß sie willkommen. Sie sang an der
Mailñnder Scala. Berlin gab ihr einen Vertrag. Die Salzburger
Festspiele ließen sich nicht lumpen. Ohne Studer schienen die Bühnen
der Welt mit einem Schlag nackt und bloß.

Was war bloß geschehen, das bald zu beunruhigen begann? Studer hatte
über das ringsum herrschende Kñstchendenken, über die Rñnder der in
immer enger geschnürten Fñchern verwahrten Rollen hinausgesungen. Sie
hatte wieder aufklingen lassen, was im 19. Jahrhundert noch
selbstverstñndlich war, da ein Ludwig Schnorr mit seinen
neunundzwanzig Jahren bereits den Tristan sang, gleichzeitig aber auch
Ottavio im "Don Giovanni", und Lilli Lehmann buchstñblich alles, was
sich von einer Frau in der Sopranlage singen ließ, mit
Selbstverstñndlichkeit, Technik und Gottvertrauen dem Publikum
vortrug. Studer versuchte, es ihr gleich zu tun.

Sie eckte damit an. An allen Ecken und Enden tauchten plötzlich
Beckmesser auf. So etwas wie künstlerisches Mobbing zeigte sich in den
bislang einhellig geheiligten Opernkulissen. Man versuchte, Cheryl
Studer verstummen zu machen. Man annulierte ihre Vertrñge. Man
versuchte, sie in mindere Rollen umzutopfen. Jeder Buhruf vom Olymp,
altgeübter leidiger Brauch, der schon Callas und Tebaldi umklungen
hatte, wurde plötzlich zu Gottes Stimme erklñrt und verklñrt.

Imponierend wiederum: Studer zog vor Gericht. Sie ließ sich diese
Missachtung ihrer Kunst, ihres Könnens nicht bieten. Sie wollte sich
nicht als Schallplatte aus Fleisch und Blut, als volltechnisierte
Singmaschine eingestuft und zwangslñufig als Künstlerin abgewertet
sehen. Sie wollte Frau bleiben dürfen: singender, jeden Abend auf
offener Bühne sich preisgebender Mensch. Man gab ihr Recht.

Das Publikum gab ihr Recht. Studers Rückkehr ins Zentrum des
musikalischen Erfolges vollzog sich in imponierend gelassenen
Schritten. Sie hat, singend, alle Querelen, die man um sie anzettelte,
hinter sich gelassen. Seither singt sie nicht mehr mit dem Rücken
gegen die Wand. Sie hat sich ihre jubilierenden Freiheiten
wiedererobert: nicht nur eine bedeutende Künstlerin, zugleich eine
tapfere Frau."

----------------------------

Born: October 24, 1955 - Midland, Michigan, USA

"The American soprano Cheryl Studer began at a very young age studying
the piano and the viola. At the age of twelve, after listening to the
album "La Callas Ó Paris", she decided that she wanted to be an opera
singer and started voice lessons in her hometown with Mrs. Gwendolyn
Pike. She spent her senior high school years at Interlochen Arts
Academy, before studying for one year at Oberlin Conservatory, near
Cleveland, Ohio. She then moved with her family to Tennessee, where
she continued her studies at the University of Tennessee at
Knoxville. Her promising talent caught Leonard Bernstein's attention
and he offered her full scholarships to study for three consecutive
summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1975 to 1977),
where she studied with Phyllis Curtin. She debuted at Tanglewood in
1976 in Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Boston Symphony
Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, who invited her for a series of concerts
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall during the 1978-
1979 season.

In the summer of 1979, she went to the Schubert Institute in Baden
bei Wien, Austria, where she attended a course for foreign students
on the art of the German Lied. Among her teachers at that summer
institute were Irmgard Seefried, Brigitte Fassbaender and Hans
Hotter. The great baritone persuaded Cheryl Studer to stay in Europe
for the year and study with him at the Hochschule für Musik und
darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

After a year in Vienna, and at Hans Hotter's urging, Cheryl Studer
auditioned for Wolfgang Sawallisch who hired her as a permanent
member of the Bavarian State Opera, where she spent two consecutive
seasons. At the end of the 1981-1982 season, she left the Munich
ensemble to join the Staatstheater Darmstadt for two seasons, before
going to Berlin to be part of the Deutsche Oper ensemble for the 1984-
195 and 1985-1986 seasons.

She sang her first big role (Violetta) as a guest artist at the
Staatstheater Braunschweig in the spring of 1983. In the summer of
that same year, the Bayerische Staatsoper called her to their Summer
Festival to sing Irene (Rienzi) and Drola (Die Feen), under Maestro
Sawallisch. She made her North American opera debut in the role of
Micaela (Carmen) in 1984 for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She caught
the world's attention for the first time at the 1985 Bayreuth
Festival, when the sang Elisabeth (Tannhñuser) under Giuseppe
Sinopoli. Since then, she has sung in the most prestigious houses in
the world: Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (debut in 1986 in Das
Rheingold as Freia), Opéra de Paris (debut the same year in Die
Zauberflöte as Pamina), San Francisco Opera (debut in Die
Meistersinger as Eva, also in 1986), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
(debut in 1987 in Tannhñuser as Elisabeth), La Scala (operatic debut
in Don Giovanni as Donna Anna in 1987), New York Metropolitan Opera
(debut in 1988 in Carmen as Micaela), Vienna State Opera (debut in
Elektra as Chrysothemis in 1989). She debuted at the Salzburg Summer
Festival that same year and in the same role.

Her repertoire reveals a soprano of exceptional versatility, perhaps
not encountered since the great Lilly Lehmann: from Mozart's Queen of
the Night, Donna Anna and Countess Almaviva, to Wagner's Sieglinde,
Elisabeth and Elsa, from Rossini's Mathilde and Semiramide to
Donizetti's Lucia, from Verdi's Odabella and Violetta to Gounod's
Marguerite and the great heroines of Richard Strauss, Cheryl Studer's
repertoire encompasses more than 70 roles.

In addition to her appearances in the most renowned opera houses of
the world, Cheryl Studer has never forgotten her first love: the
Lied. Although she has been singing Lieder since her early years, she
made her first big European tour in 1992; ever since, she has been
giving Lieder recitals in many European cities, as well as in the USA
and the Far East. Although an acclaimed interpreter of the great
Germanic Lieder composers (in particular Schubert, Brahms, Mahler,
Strauss and Hugo Wolf), she also loves Debussy's Ariettes oubliées
and Samuel Barber's songs.

Cheryl Studer also appears regularly as a concert soloist with the
world's most famous orchestras: the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin
Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the London Symphony, the
Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Boston Symphony,
the Philadelphia Orchestra, to name but a few. Her concert repertoire
includes Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Mozart's concert arias, Verdi's
Requiem, Wagner's Wesendonk-Lieder and Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder,
as well as other orchestral Lieder.

For her third summer's work as a Vocal Fellow of the Berkshire Music
Center at Tanglewood, Cheryl Studer won the 1977 High
Fidelity/Musical America Prize. The following year, she competed in
the Metropolitan Opera Auditions Finals and won the Mrs. Frederick A.
Stoughton Award. In 1979, she won the Franz-Schubert-Institut-Preis
for excellence in Lied interpretation. She received the Grand Prix du
Disque - Prix Maria Callas, in 1989. Cheryl Studer was particularly
honoured to be chosen by an international jury as the first recipient
of the International Classical Music Award in 1993 (London) in the
category Best Female Singer of the Year; in the same year, she also
received the Wilhelm Furtwñngler Prize. One year later, she was
chosen as Musical America's Vocalist of the Year (1994).

A great many recordings featuring Cheryl Studer have also received
numerous prizes, awards and distinctions. Among others: Tannhñuser
(Elisabeth - DG - G. Sinopoli): Gran Premio del disco Ritmo, Orphée
d'Or, CD Compact, Diapason d'Or; Attila (Odabella - EMI - R. Muti):
Diapason d'Or, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, L'Opera-CittÓ di
Mondovì, Musica Viva; Salome (Salome - DG - G. Sinopoli): Stella
d'Argento, Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du
disque, Edison Award, Orphée d'Or; Faust (Marguerite - EMI - M.
Plasson): Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, Choc du Monde de la
Musique, FFFF de Télérama, Orphée d'Or de l'Académie du disque
lyrique, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle
Académie du disque, Classic CD 5-Star Award; Lohengrin (Elsa - DG -
C. Abbado): FFFF de Télérama, 10 de Répertoirte, Timbre de platine
d'Opéra international, Outstanding from BBC Music Magazine; Samuel
Barber's Complete Songs (With Thomas Hampson - DG - John Browning,
piano): Caecilia Prijs, Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, First Cannes
Classical Awards, Vocal Recital, XIX/XX centuries category, Hilary
Finch's Record of the Year (BBC Music Magazine), Gramophone Awards,
Solo Vocal category; Susannah (Title role - Virgin Classics - K.
Nagano): Grammy Award; Hérodiade (Salomé - EMI - M. Plasson): Choc du
Monde de la Musique, Diapason d'Or."

----------------------------

"Sie begann ihre Ausbildung im Alter von 12 Jahren an der Interlochen
Arts Academy; dann wñhrend drei Jahren am Berkshire Music Centre in
Tanglewood Schülerin von Phyllis Curtin. 1978 gewann sie einen
Gesangwettbewerb der Metropolitan Oper New York und setzte darauf ihre
Ausbildung an der Wiener Musikakademie, u.a. bei Hans Hotter, fort.
Sie war bereits in ihrer amerikanischen Heimat als Konzertsñngerin
aufgetreten. 1980 erhielt sie ihr erstes Bühnenengagement an der
Staatsoper von München (Debüt als erste Dame in der "Zauberflöte").
1981 hatte sie dort einen aufsehenerregenden Erfolg als Marie in
Smetanas "Verkaufter Braut". 1982-84 war sie Mitglied des
Staatstheaters von Darmstadt, 1984-86 der Deutschen Oper Berlin. Es
kam dann zur Ausbildung einer großen, internationalen Karriere. 1985
hatte sie bei den Festspielen von Bayreuth einen sensationellen Erfolg
als Elisabeth im "Tannhñuser". Diese Partie wiederholte sie dort
1986-87 und 1989; 1988-90 wurde sie in Bayreuth als Elsa im
"Lohengrin" gefeiert. 1986 zu Gast an der Grand Opéra Paris als Pamina
in der "Zauberflöte" an der Covent Garden Oper London hörte man sie
1987 als Elisabeth, 1988 als Elsa, 1994 als Aida; an der Münchner
Staatsoper 1987 als Sieglinde in der "Walküre", dann als Kaiserin in
der "Frau ohne Schatten" von R.Strauss, 1996 als Arabella in der
gleichnamigen Oper von R.Strauss. An der Oper von Rom wirkte sie 1987
in einer konzertanten Aufführung von Webers "Euryanthe" mit, an der
Mailñnder Scala sang sie das Sopransolo im Verdi-Requiem. 1988
erschien sie wieder an der Grand Opéra Paris, jetzt als Elsa.
Ebenfalls 1988 kam es zu ihrem Debüt an der Metropolitan Oper New York
in der Partie der Micaela in "Carmen". 1989 übernahm sie an der
Staatsoper von Wien wie bei den Salzburger Festspielen die
Chrysothemis in "Elektra" von R.Strauss. 1989 trat sie an der
Mailñnder Scala als Elena in Verdis "I Vespri Siciliani" auf, 1991 als
Odabella in "Attila" von Verdi. 1990 sang sie an der Wiener Staatsoper
die Elsa im "Lohengrin" (mit Placido Domingo in der Titelrolle) und
die Donna Anna im "Don Giovanni", 1991 die Grñfin in "Figaros
Hochzeit", die sie auch 1995 an der Londoner Covent Garden Oper
vortrug, 1996 an der Oper von Lyon die Leonore im "Fidelio". Bei den
Salzburger Festspielen war sie 1990-91 als Elettra in Mozarts
"Idomeneo", 1992 als Kaiserin in "Die Frau ohne Schatten" von
R.Strauss 1995 als Marschallin im "Rosenkavalier", 1996 als Leonore im
"Fidelio" anzutreffen. Sie gastierte am Teatro Liceo Barcelona, am
Opernhaus Bonn und an den großen amerikanischen Bühnen, war aber nicht
weniger erfolgreich als Konzertsopranistin. Auf der Bühne lagen
Schwerpunkte ihres Repertoires im Mozart- und im Wagner-Fach, dazu in
Partien wie der Mathilde in Rossinis "Wilhelm Tell" (Mailñnder Scala),
der Elena in Verdis "Vespri Siciliani", der Marguerite im "Faust" von
Gounod und der Titelpartie in Rossinis "Semiramide". 1989 übernahm sie
in Philadelphia mit der Lucia di Lammermoor eine der großen
klassischen Koloraturpartien und unterstrich damit einmal mehr ihre
vielseitige, die Fachgrenzen übergreifende Begabung. Beim Rossini
Festival in Pesaro sang sie 1990 die Mme. Cortese in "Il Viaggio a
Reims" von Rossini.Bei der Vielzahl von Schallplattenaufnahmen kann
nur eine Übersicht gegeben werden: Ariola-Eurodisc (Walküre im
Ring-Zyklus), Orfeo ("Die Feen" von R.Wagner, Requiem von Donizetti),
HMV-Electrola (Verdi-Requiem, 9. Sinfonie von Beethoven, Elena in "I
Vespri Siciliani", Kaiserin in "Die Frau ohne Schatten" von R.Strauss,
"Attila" von Verdi, Sieglinde in der "Walküre"), DGG (Elisabeth im
"Tannhñuser", Gutrune in der "Götterdñmmerung", Elsa im "Lohengrin",
"Fierrabras" von Schubert, "Salome" von R.Strauss, "La Traviata" mit
Placido Domingo, Grñfin in "Nozze di Figaro", "Lucia di Lammermoor",
"Das klagende Lied" und 8.Sinfonie von G.Mahler, Hanna Glawari in der
"Lustigen Witwe"), Philips (Königin der Nacht in der "Zauberflöte",
Giulietta in "Hoffmanns Erzñhlungen"), Schwann ("Der Geburtstag der
Infantin" von Zemlinsky), EMI ("Faust" von Gounod, Eva in den
"Meistersingern", Salomé in "Hérodiade" von Massenet), Virgin-EMI
("Susannah" von C.Floyd); Virgin-Video (Chrysothemis in "Elektra" von
R.Strauss), Philips-Video ("Lohengrin", "Tannhñuser"), Castle-Video
("Lohengrin"), Videoland Wien ("Attila" von Verdi)."

----------------------------

And now, ladies and gentlemen, some more shibboleth-by-proxy...

FINDING GREATNESS IN STRANGE PLACES

"Amid the ongoing talk of the classical music record industry in
crisis, an odd phenomenon is taking shape: great records of repertory
chestnuts are still being made. "What's so strange about that?" you
ask. Here's what: many of these spectacular new recordings aren't
coming from the expected sources--major artists on major labels-- but
rather from, well, just about anywhere. This fact hit home hard
recently, as you will see if you read on, so I thought that this
would be a good time to examine this trend in greater detail since it
touches on many of the issues that lie at the very heart of the
current "crisis," not the least of which are some of the underlying
assumptions and expectations that we all have as listeners.

Many factors distinguish today's marketplace from that of years gone
by, but one particular difference concerns us here. For most of its
history, the classical music industry acted as an offshoot to the
business of giving live concerts. Great artists performed their
limited repertoire of certified masterpieces and their exclusive
labels backed them up with recordings documenting their careers, thus
allowing both the artists (and the labels) to capitalize on their
fame and success. This practice still exists at some of the major
labels, but on an increasingly limited basis and, more to the point,
at an ever further remove from the vast bulk of recording activity
taking place today.

The emancipation of the recording industry from its origins as an
adjunct to live concerts has had many consequences, some of them
quite beneficial to the consumer. It has permitted the release of
vast tracts of repertoire, from early and Baroque music
to "neglected" symphonists of every nationality and period, which
most people will never have the opportunity to hear live, if indeed
these works will ever be performed in concert at all. It has
permitted labels to proliferate and specialize in music of particular
periods and styles, given countless artists access to the music
loving public, and of course provided a boon to record purchasers,
even while opening up a large and frustrating (to producers) gap
between the spending habits of concertgoers as compared with those
interested in home listening.

Particularly relevant, though, are the consequences resulting from
giving so many new or little-known artists access to the general
public through the medium of recordings. Most of these performers are
largely unknown, many are mediocre, but some are fantastic, and more
to the point, in the world of music even mediocre artists often have
a few great evenings (or studio sessions) in them, and the chances
that the microphones will be ready to capture them on these special
occasions, however rare, are better than ever before. Making records
today is just so easy and cheap, technologically speaking. This in
turn raises the tantalizing possibility of discovering great music
making at virtually any point, from any source -- a possibility
that's becoming an ever more frequent occurrence if one has the time
and opportunity to listen and the willingness to do so without
prejudice or preconceptions.

In the past few months, I have had the good fortune to encounter at
least four such recordings, two of them in circumstances that make
for revealing comparisons, as recent versions of the same music
by "major" artists and ensembles have been released at roughly the
same time. These four are: the best-ever rendition of Rimsky-
Korsakov's Antar Symphony (No. 2) from Kees Bakels and the Malaysian
Philharmonic on BIS; stunning new readings of Shostakovich's
Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 from Oleg Caetani and the Giuseppe Verdi
Symphony Orchestra of Milan; a Mahler Fifth Symphony on ABC Classics
from the Melbourne Symphony under Markus Stenz that puts the recent
(perfectly respectable) Rattle/Berlin Philharmonic disc to shame; and
last but not least, Strauss' An Alpine Symphony from the Warsaw
Philharmonic led by Kazimierz Kord on CD Accord, a performance that
positively annihilates in every respect the new Thielemann/Vienna
Philharmonic snooze-fest on DG.

These releases raise interesting problems for us critics. After all,
its one thing to praise to the skies neglected genius Theodosius
Svohblcky-Dryzckiwszk's Symphony No. 31 played by the Lower Ruhr
Valley Symphony Orchestra conducted by Egbert Schuchterflecker. I
mean, who's going to know the difference? The three aging members of
England's Theodosius Svohblcky-Dryzckiwszk Society as well as any
surviving relatives will be thrilled beyond measure as a matter of
course; collectors of recordings of neglected composers -- all
hundred or so worldwide -- will want to listen anyway, and everyone
else will simply ignore the review. But telling the public that the
Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, at least in this case, don't hold a
candle to the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony, or that
true greatness may reside in the Malaysian Philharmonic (shudder), or
(the ultimate horror!) an Italian orchestra--let's just say that
there's a real issue of credibility here. As critics, we have an
obligation to report what we hear, but will we be believed? Should we
even care?

In this respect it's important to keep in mind that when it comes to
a critic's reputation, praise is far more dangerous than condemnation
(and much more difficult to write as well). If a listener disagrees
with a critic who hates a disc, he'll probably say, "He has his
opinion and I have mine, and I happen to enjoy many of the things
that this critic dislikes." No harm done. But when a reader finds
disgusting a recording that a critic raves about, then the critic
risks being labeled an incompetent with no standards, a sell-out to
commercial interests, and a musical ignoramus besides. This is
perfectly understandable. After all, that reader probably feels he
has been duped into spending his hard-earned money on crap, and hell
hath no fury like a serious collector deceived, especially one on a
limited budget.

And let's not kid ourselves: artistic reputations really do influence
listeners' perceptions, especially when part of the classical music
mystique involves the validation of one's own taste and discernment,
a goal most easily achieved by joining crowds of like-minded fans of
major artists. Don't get me wrong: there's nothing bad in this as
long as it doesn't become a fetish. The quality of music making today
is extremely high. Most major artists surely earn their stature and
popularity over time, and deserve the adulation of their fans.
Besides, like many forms of entertainment, the classical music world
has always been artist driven. People buy recordings by performers
they admire, know, and trust, never mind what they sound like, and
many (if not most) consumers have already made up their minds to like
something before the first note sounds. Unfortunately this is true of
some critics too, but that's another story.

The problem in making sincere critical praise of the unknown credible
is compounded by the fact that what we might call this "repertoire
driven" segment of the industry, the one that now dominates the new
release racks, spends very little money on marketing or promotion,
leaving it almost entirely up to chance that the public will discover
its work (or that a store will bother to stock it). This in turn
leads to the frustrating problem that even readers who might actually
be inclined to act on a critic's recommendation and risk a purchase
often have a heroic task ahead of them merely trying to find a place
where they can buy the disc. Solving these problems represents
perhaps the major challenge facing the industry today, particularly
the independent labels, and they are doing a lousy job at it on the
whole.

In prior decades, we took it on faith that major artists on major
labels, if not always representing "the best" on every occasion in
every work, at least offered standards higher then those found in,
say, Lahti, Finland or Nashville, Tennessee. Remember how odd it
seemed to us just a few years ago that Chandos would record a
Tchaikovsky symphony cycle with the Oslo Philharmonic under a no-name
called Mariss Jansons? Now we know that this prejudice in favor
of "name" artists was just plain ignorance, a fact clearly
demonstrated by the innumerable excellent recordings made by vast
numbers of superbly trained musicians the world over, in turn
supported by generous quantities of public and private money
available to artists and ensembles of every stripe. The Malaysian
Philharmonic is funded by that country's state-owned oil industry.
It's as good a band as money can buy, and I say this without a trace
of cynicism. The orchestra's fine quality speaks for itself.

So does this mean that the Malaysian Philharmonic and the other
orchestras previously mentioned are "greater" than those of Berlin or
Vienna? Of course not, or at any rate, not yet. One important aspect
of greatness must be the ability to maintain consistently high
standards over the long term. But for the critic (and the home
listener) none of that should matter. These folks have made great
records, and even if in concert they sound dreadful as often as not,
at least one document exists to prove that on at least one occasion
they stood with the very finest the world of music has to offer. As
critics, we can do our best to point this out fairly and accurately.
But it's up to the industry itself to promote these unknown artists
and ensembles, and otherwise alert the public to the fact that
there's some mighty impressive new talent out there, while at the
same time making it as easy as possible for the curious or skeptical
to sample and buy. In today's classical music world, greatness is no
longer an assumption automatically bestowed on hallowed artists and
institutions, but an ideal to be pursued, discovered, acclaimed, and
cherished wherever it may be found."

David Hurwitz
http://classicstoday.com

Postscript – "Try as you may to locate a Cheryl Studer review
(other than the justly famous Samuel Barber set) in my little
website that could --- as if nothing else had happened before and
after."

----------------------------

And why not end this session with a tad more courage?...

HOW THE PC BRIGADE IS DESTROYING OUR ORCHESTRAS
by Norman Lebrecht, "The Evening Standard"
8 October 2003

"I went along to be enlightened and came away consumed with despair
at the political realities which oblige arts managers to give up a
working day for a preach-in on multiculturalism. The symposium was
called 'Cultural Diversity and the Classical Music Industry' and it
yammered on all day yesterday in a dreary side-room at the Royal
Festival Hall, overlooking the railway cuttings. There was a sell-out
attendance from just about every classical body in Britain bigger
than a string quartet. This might make you think that the theme was
compulsive.

Compulsory is more like it. As things stand in British arts, only an
autist would dare to profess disinterest in diversity. With 7.9
percent of the population derived from ethnic minorities and the
government sloganising away about inclusion, it would have been a
brave orchestral boss who stayed away from diversity day. One manager
whispered to me that his absence would surely have been 'noted'.
There was an ominous edge to the proceedings. The organising body,
the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), had 'aligned the event
with the objectives of Arts Council England' - specifically with the
ACE's aim to make cultural diversity 'central to all that it
undertakes'. The ACE sent no fewer than ten observers to a room
holding 160. An awful lot of next year's funding must hinge on
diversity compliance.

As for sell-outs, that was the fundamental premise. The ABO,
representing a dwindling and dangerously uncool sector, was waving a
white flag of acceptance that art must, for the time being, take
second place to social engineering. Orchestras are increasingly
expected to hire 'audience development managers' and work
with 'grassroots communities' if they want to carry on playing the
symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms.

The day began combatively with a speech from Lord Moser, once
chairman of the Royal Opera House and now of the British Museum
Development Trust. Lord Moser, 81, told the apparatchiks that
orchestras 'do not deserve lectures or pressures from the arts
councils - what is lacking is on the other side of the coin, in the
education and funding systems.'

The reason orchestras have so few non-white players - only two, for
instance, in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the heart
of multicultural Midlands - is because music teaching has been
neglected in the poorest areas. State school recruitment of music
teachers was down 12 percent nationally last year. Most of those
teaching music in secondary schools were, he said, untrained in
music. Until they provide music teaching for minority children, the
authorities cannot point a finger at orchestras for failing to engage
non-whites as players, staff and audiences. 'Classical music will
always be a minority interest,' asserted Lord Moser, 'but it should
not be as much of a minority as it has been allowed to become in this
country.'

After that, it was all downhill as the diversity industry turned its
rage on the orchestral craft. Professor Lola Young, head of culture
at the Greater London Authority and previously chair of the ACE's
diversity panel, said we must 'change the look of the classical music
industry'. The professor, resplendent in an African-style headwrap,
named 'George Augustus Bridgewater', the black violinist for whom
Beethoven wrote his concerto, as a useful role model. Every classical
buff in the room knew the name was Bridgetower, but they were too
cowed to correct a dominatrix of political correctness.
Kim Evans, executive director of arts at the ACE, argued that if
diversity was good for business, it must be twice as good for
art. 'We are asking you to use your funding in different ways,' she
instructed, 'to approach audiences in different ways.' A chill set in
as she drew parallels with the ACE's assault on the theatrical
sector, which it condemned as 'institutionally racist' and then
promised to help reform. Evans urged orchestras to develop 'positive
action plans' before they were similarly sin-binned.

Roger Wright, head of Radio 3 which is getting flak from classic
lovers for its output of world music, confessed that everyone at the
BBC now undergoes 'diversity training'. Roger Lewis, head of easy-
listening Classic FM, exhorted us, perhaps ironically 'to get out of
comfort zones'.

And so it went on, a daylong drizzle of ambiguities, hypocrisies and
dissimulations that could not conceal a grim inevitability.
Diversity, or the policy that speaks its name, is a means of
diverting orchestras from what they ought to be doing, making music,
to what the Government ought to be doing, creating social harmony.
Few rose to challenge its preposterousness. Diversity is, to most of
us, a fact of life. One does not have to travel far these days to
find a cafe serving braised ostrich, or look beyond the next street
corner to realise that forced marriages, honour killings and female
circumcision exist in our midst. There are bright and dark aspects to
the mass immigration of the past 30 years.

The cultural benefits are, however, overwhelmingly heartening. The
literature, art and music of this country have been enriched beyond
measure by a generation of inter-mingling on equal terms with other
traditions. London in particular has become the hub of cross-cultural
fertilisation as Paris was between the wars and New York briefly
afterwards. Such melting-pots are made by mutual respect. No-one
wants qawwali ensembles to doff caps and sing Haydn any more than a
symphony orchestra should have to drop oboes and bang dustbin lids.
Yet that is what the diversity peddlers are pushing. Orchestras which
struggle against an already inhospitable zeitgeist are being told to
change their ways, while immigrant cultures are celebrated for their
supposed purity. It is absurd, unfair and inherently disastrous.
Sitting amid the Blairite blather, I was transported back to the
notorious Zhdanovitsa of 1948, when Soviet composers were summoned to
Leningrad to be instructed by party hacks, on pain of exile, on how
to write music for the new society. There was something of that fear
on the South Bank yesterday.

And an uglier precedent sprang to mind. The ACE's aim is to
accelerate the integration of minorities into established arts,
heedless of cultural consequences. It amounts to a mirror image of
Hitlerite policy which entailed the removal of non-aryan races from
German music, even though this would relegate the art to the margins
of civilisation. That one policy is well-intentioned and the other
unutterably evil is immaterial. What the world learned from Stalin
and Hitler is that state organs have no business meddling with
culture. That lesson is being obliterated in Britain where cultural
diversity is brandished as a weapon to intimidate the performing arts
and ultimately to emasculate them."

----------------------------

HENRY JAMES AND THE AMERICAN SOPRANO
14 December 2001
By RML

"I could say I am still under the spell of Henry James. At present, I
am reading his "The Portrait of a Lady", a nicest book. I won't
comment on it because I haven't finished yet. However, this Jamesian
Leitmotiv - Americans in Europe - led me to reach some conclusions.

In "The Portrait of a Lady", there is a most interesting character
called Henrietta Stackpole, an American patriotic journalist. On
visiting St.Peter's in Rome, she declares that "Michelangelo's dome
suffered by comparison with that of the Capitol at Washington". Miss
Stackpole has this a priori - American things are the best. Of
course, she has her reasons. With this in mind, I was thinking of
Deborah Voigt's performance as Ariadne, which is, as you could read
in my Strauss discography, incredibly boring. Naturally, Miss
Stackpole would take me for a snob and I can imagine her description
of Voigt's voice: "it has the honesty of American spirit, the
amplitude of America's land and the ingenuity of American people".
Since Deborah Voigt's and Renée Fleming's woefully inadequate performances have
been taken as models by many reviewers (whose nationality I prefer
not to reveal), I'll try to propose a group of ideas about this new
myth of the musical world - "THE AMERICAN SOPRANO".

Roland Barthes explains that a myth is a second degree of
signification. We would have an object and a symbol for this object -
a word for example. When we have a myth, we join two objects and they
make a new and original level of signification. For example, red
roses. In the first level of signification, we refer to the kind of
flowers produced of the genus 'Rosa' in the colour red. However, if
it is a guy who sends a girl red roses that would mean he is in love
with her. So we have a second level of signification - red roses + a
guy sending them to a girl = he's in love with her. The second level
has a complete new group of ideas turning around it.

The same thing happens to "American Soprano". Of course, in the first
level of analysis, an American soprano refers to a lyric female
singer whose voice has the highest tessitura among human voices who
was born in the United Stated (or, for that matter, of an American
mother or father...). However, why are we never tempted to refer to
Arleen Augér or Barbara Bonney, for example, primarily as "American
sopranos"? Because, for "American Soprano" we mean something very
different from it.

The myth of the American soprano probably started in the Bing years
in the Met, precisely in the Helen Traubel case. To start with, the
voice must be in the Henrietta Stackpole standard - wide as the
continent and solid as the American way of life. This is the premise
of this myth, but it aims something more ambitious than that. The
American soprano is the affirmative that "our [I mean, theirs] way is
the best way". The idea was that, when Ms. Traubel went to night
clubs to sing standards of the American song, she was "pulling her
hair down" and doing the real thing. In ultimate level, the American
soprano is the main character of what one calls "cross-over".
Generally, she says that - until the age of 18 - she has never heard
of opera or Lieder, that she liked blues and Ella Fitzgerald was her
idol. She also says she's a normal person and music is only her job -
that she has more in herself than just that.

These elements are fundamental to be a 100% American Soprano. When
Jessye Norman affirmed that she was definitely NOT the soprano next
door and that her youth's ideal was Leontyne Price - she lost her
claims to this position. Probably that is why she just debuted in the
temple of th


Name: Parterrebox
Date: 04/23/2004 05:48:45 AM


Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
A Community Outreach Initiative

----------------------------

"In life, democracy.
In art, aristocracy."

--- Arturo Toscanini

----------------------------

"¿Cómo se siente? ¿Cómo se siente ver que el horror estalla en tu
patio y no en el living del vecino? ¿Cómo se siente el miedo
apretando tu pecho, el pánico que provocan el ruido ensordecedor, las
llamas sin control, los edificios que se derrumban, ese terrible olor
que se mete hasta el fondo en los pulmones, los ojos de los inocentes
que caminan cubiertos de sangre y polvo?

¿Cómo se vive por un día en tu propia casa la incertidumbre de lo que
va a pasar? ¿Cómo se sale del estado de shock? En estado de shock
caminaban el 6 de agosto de 1945 los sobrevivientes de Hiroshima.
Nada quedaba en pie en la ciudad luego que el artillero
norteamericano del Enola Gay dejara caer la bomba. En pocos segundos
habían muerto 80.000 hombres, mujeres y niños. Otros 250.000 morirían
en los años siguientes a causa de las radiaciones. Pero ésa era una
guerra lejana y ni siquiera existía la televisión.

¿Cómo se siente hoy el horror cuando las terribles imágenes de la
televisión te dicen que lo ocurrido el fatídico 11 de septiembre no
pasó en una tierra lejana sino en tu propia patria? Otro 11 de
septiembre, pero de 28 años atrás, había muerto un presidente de
nombre Salvador Allende resistiendo un golpe de Estado que tus
gobernantes habían planeado. También fueron tiempos de horror, pero
eso pasaba muy lejos de tu frontera, en una ignota republiqueta
sudamericana. Las republiquetas estaban en tu patio trasero y nunca
te preocupaste mucho cuando tus marines salían a sangre y fuego a
imponer sus puntos de vista.

¿Sabías que entre 1824 y 1994 tu país llevó a cabo 73 invasiones a
países de América Latina? Las víctimas fueron Puerto Rico, México,
Nicaragua, Panamá, Haití, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, República
Dominicana, Islas Vírgenes, El Salvador, Guatemala y Granada.

Hace casi un siglo que tus gobernantes están en guerra. Desde el
comienzo del siglo XX, casi no hubo una guerra en el mundo en que la
gente de tu Pentágono no hubiera participado. Claro, las bombas
siempre explotaron fuera de tu territorio, con excepción de Pearl
Harbor cuando la aviación japonesa bombardeó la Séptima Flota en
1941. Pero siempre el horror estuvo lejos.

Cuando las Torres Gemelas se vinieron abajo en medio del polvo,
cuando viste las imágenes por televisión o escuchaste los gritos
porque estabas esa mañana en Manhattan, ¿pensaste por un Segundo en
lo que sintieron los campesinos de Vietnam durante muchos años? En
Manhattan, la gente caía desde las alturas de los rascacielos como
trágicas marionetas. En Vietnam, la gente daba alaridos porque el
napalm seguía quemando la carne por mucho tiempo y la muerte era
espantosa, tanto como las de quienes caían en un salto desesperado al
vacío. Tu aviación no dejó una fábrica en pie ni un puente sin
destruir en Yugoslavia. En Irak fueron 500.000 los muertos. Medio
millón de almas se llevó la Operación Tormenta del Desierto...¿Cuánta
gente desangrada en lugares tan exóticos y lejanos como Vietnam,
Irak, Irán, Afganistán, Libia, Angola, Somalia, Congo, Nicaragua,
Dominicana, Camboya, Yugoslavia, Sudán, y una lista interminable? En
todos esos lugares los proyectiles habían sido fabricados en
factorías de tu país, y eran apuntados por tus muchachos, por gente
pagada por tu Departamento de Estado, y sólo para que tu pudieras
seguir gozando de la forma de vida americana.

Hace casi un siglo que tu país está en guerra con todo el mundo.
Curiosamente, tus gobernantes lanzan los jinetes del Apocalipsis en
nombre de la libertad y de la democracia. Pero debes saber que para
muchos pueblos del mundo (en este planeta donde cada día mueren
24.000 pobladores por hambre o enfermedades curables), Estados Unidos
no representa la libertad, sino un enemigo lejano y Terrible que sólo
siembra guerra, hambre, miedo y destrucción. Siempre han sido
conflictos bélicos lejanos para ti, pero para quienes viven allá es
una dolorosa realidad cercana, una guerra donde los edificios se
desploman bajo las bombas y donde esa gente encuentra una muerte
horrible. Y las víctimas han sido, en el 90 por ciento, civiles,
mujeres, ancianos, niños efectos colaterales.

¿Qué se siente cuando el horror golpea a tu puerta aunque sea por un
sólo día? ¿Qué se piensa cuando las víctimas en Nueva York son
secretarias, operadores de bolsa o empleados de limpieza que pagaban
puntualmente sus impuestos y nunca mataron una mosca?

¿Cómo se siente el miedo? ¿Cómo se siente, yanqui, saber que la larga
guerra finalmente el 11 de septiembre llegó a tu casa?"

--- Gabriel García Márquez to Puppet Bush, Jr.

----------------------------

On 26 September 2000, the so-called great Mickey (Mouse) "I-have-not-
attended-a-performance-in-fifteen-years" (
http://listserv.cuny.edu/Scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0309B&L=opera-
l&P=R13279&D=0&H=0&I=-3&O=T&T=1
)
Richter performed a 'plug-in', heroically and by proxy, on behalf of
Klaus Heymann, the so-called authority behind ---naXos---:

{{ Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 21:40:41 -0700
Reply-To: Mike Richter
Sender: Discussion of opera and related issues L@L...>
From: Mike Richter
Subject: Authoritative word on naXos' methods
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed

The following comments are from Klaus Heymann, the force behind naXos
and other labels, to our posts on their approach to recording opera.

> Mike Richter wrote in response to Bob Kosovsky's post

[Bob Kosovsky of CUNY's Opera-L: Homosexual, Jew, Liberal,
Librarian, and – would you believe it? – Censor]

>>Since the naXos label is being lauded by some as forecasting a
future path of opera, I have a question. I know several people who
have participated in naXos recordings of chamber music. All of them
have been paid a one-time-only fee, and have ceded the right to
royalties. Does this kind of contract also apply to naXos's
recordings of vocalists in operas or recitals? (I hate to think that
Ewa Podles doesn't get anything more than her initial fee for that
Rossini recital of hers, naXos 8.553543.)

### Yes, singers are also paid a flat fee. Ewa Podles is very happy
with her Rossini ... she would like to do more recitals but the cost
of recording her with orchestra and chorus is prohibitive ... we
still haven't recouped our investment in this recording. ###

>>It sounds a bit exploitative to me, IMO. On the other hand, my not-
yet-famous acquaintances jump at the chance to record for them. (They
are allowed only two or three takes, with no chance of fancy editing
to correct mistakes.)

### Most singers understand that recording opera is extremely
expensive, especially under our perfect studio (not live) conditions
and are happy with our modest flat fees. Look at our Fidelio cast!
The bit about being allowed only two or three takes and no chance of
fancy editing is nonsense ... artists are allow as many takes as
necessary to get the music right. However, having said that, we
expect our artists to be well prepared unlike many big-name artists
who rely on the producer and editor to produce a good performance.
###

>>So I'm curious to hear whether vocalists are also bound to such
contracts. I believe you have it right. My understanding is that
Klaus and his people search the globe for artists and groups who
merit the exposure and are doing (or are able to do) the works he
wants to include in his catalogue. By providing one-time fees - often
of critical importance to such artists - and exposure, naXos both
benefits the artists and produces high-quality, inexpensive
programming. There may be exceptions in which royalties are offered,
but that does not appear to be the rule. Of course, limiting studio
time also contains costs.

### We do not limit studio costs but our producer have the authority
to send poorly prepared artists home. ###

>>The other major factor in naXos and its related labels keeping
prices down is that they give up much of the promotion the more
famous marks employ. Since the recordings are focussed on the music
and there are seldom acknowledged "stars", stellar advertising and
displays are unnecessary. It is a different approach to marketing and
seems so far to have been a most successful one.

Mike

Best regards,

Klaus

*********************
(My apologies for the confusion in indenting of Bob's original post,
my reply and Klaus's.)

Mike

mrichter@c...
Opera: http://mrichter.simplenet.com/
CD-R: http://resource.simplenet.com/ }}


End of quote

----------------------------

Thus spoke the authority. We re-quote:

"Most singers understand that recording opera is extremely expensive,
especially under our perfect studio (not live) conditions and are
happy with our modest flat fees. Look at our Fidelio cast! The bit
about being allowed only two or three takes and no chance of fancy
editing is nonsense ... artists are allowed as many takes as
necessary to get the music right. However, having said that, we
expect our artists to be well prepared unlike many big-name artists
who rely on the producer and editor to produce a good performance."

We ask:

1. Mr. Heymann seems to have contradicted himself by simultaneously
affirming that his artists are indeed allowed "fancy editing...to get
the music right" while ranting against the "many big-name artists who
rely on the producer and editor to produce a good performance." What
exactly is the difference? Isn't fancy editing what earns producers
and editors their bacon, be it at naXos or Lucifer Classics? Or is
Mr. Heymann whining and bickering because Lucifer's console is (or
rather, was) bigger than his?

2. Mr. Heymann seems to have fallen prey to the epidemic virus of
unfounded critical prejudice and the politics of defamation and
character-assassination (the rate of infection appears to be
abnormally high within the familial fraternity of
American/Anglosaxon/Anglophile critical bedfellows). His words can be
easily formulized: "Big Name + Big Label = Little Music (or
Falsity)". No need to state the converse but we'll do it
anyway: "Little/No Name + Little Label = Big Music (or Truth)". Who
exactly are these many unprepared big names? And how, where, and
when?

3. A few years back, the authority was also quoted in "The Boston
Globe" - this other 'plug-in-by-proxy' courtesy of CareerHomo-turned-
critic-turned-promoter Richard "local church mice are world-class
people too" Dyer. Lately, Dyer has been heard advocating for the
equal part Charity/Chimpanzee Acts that are The Three Mo' Tenors,
Andrea "Dunkin' Donuts" Bocelli, Charlotte Church, Josh "popera boy"
Groban, and Pavarotti's latest pop dreck.

[What is going on?]

["Maestros of the Pen: A History of Classical Music Criticism in
America", by Mark N. Grant, Northeastern University Press, 1998, ISBN
1-55553-363-9: n-o-t o-n-e f-o-o-t-n-o-t-e *not one* on Dyer ---
and this after a 25+year career behind him dedicated to latter-day
Anglo+Judeo+Homo-centric bitchery, dishonesty, and hypocrisy. And
just as long dedicated to sobbing after the footnote (but no
reference), indeed, that was one Lucine Amara.]

But back to the authority:

"The market is shifting away from name artists, and the average music
lover is confused by bins crowded by recordings. What is the
difference between Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado and Riccardo Chailly
in a given piece? Whatever the difference is, it doesn't mean
anything to the average music lover who gives up and chooses our
recording because it is more reasonably priced, and the performance
is just as good. It is an absurdity for Plácido Domingo to sing 'The
Barber of Seville'; our recording is a better performance of the
opera. If Cheryl Studer were to come to me and ask to sing some of
the operas she has recorded, I wouldn't let her." {Author: Richard
Dyer / Date: 19.01.1994 / Page: 61 / Section: Living Arts}

We comment and ask:

3A. Funny but we bet that the suits at Lucifer Classics swear t-h-e-
i-r barber gives a better haircut. Not that some of us (not nearly
enough) give a one-night-stand about Sir Domingo, at least not since
his early 90s (and thereafter) publicity and musical circus
prostitutions – this case of gonorrhea is treatable no longer.

3B. Let us cut to the chase: we propose that one encompassing reason
for the present-day crisis in this wasteland is that the ever-so-
important anecdotal and testimonial lore and the ensuing
language/narrative about the live stage experiences a-n-d about the
documented legacies of certain important big-names (those immediately
preceding the generation of today's Ass-ociated Press "A List")
literally fell through a g-e-n-e-r-a-t-i-o-n-a-l and c-u-l-t-u-r-a-l
c-r-a-c-k - an abyss, really. Little or nothing was said. In
retrospect, a lot of people in this abortion-gone-bad of a business
(a system that, with escalating aggression, knows the price of
everything and the value of nothing --- a business
that throws the baby, the bathwater, and the mother) have a lot of
answering to do. Observe in comparison, if you will, how today's
desperate and thus general(ised) press a-n-d the chintzy, natty
queens (old and new, male and female) write about an integer to the
far left of zero (if that) such as one Ruth Ann Swenson or, for
example, Tibor Rudas' Third(rate, if that) Soprano and division by
zero (if that), one other Kallen Esperian. Simply impossible to
believe... but sadly true. And this is the flip side of the same coin
--- and a penny it is --- that places the 70+-year-old-Renata-Scotto-
who-made-her-debut-in-1952-or-three-years-before-Cheryl-was-conceived-
and-who-is-still-in-her-prime-and-getting-better-and-who-should-have-
many-of-us-wondering-what-has-she-done-in-20-years on the cover
of "Opernglas," March 2003. Or the other septuagenarian Montserrat
Caballé, a has-been-but-getting-better-and-still-interesting-yes?, on
the cover of "Opernwelt," April 2003. Or the penny that pays for
space about Leontyne Price's tremendously important, yes?,
Meisterclass in "The Financial Times" (albeit bankrupt and then some)
(see "Bernheimer, Martin"). Or the outrageously dumbo piece in "Opera
News" (keeping up with their recent tradition) by one "Siff, Ira"
(who ought to know better) on the significant-other of
soupy-pop-ballads-Duetto infamy, blue-collar teddy bear Salvatore
Licitra – why yes, the twofer even made it to the cover of
"Opernglas," October 2003. And a penny it is. And a penny it will be.

In the realm of opera, this previous generation came "too soon" after
the Marias and the Renatas and the Joans and the Montserrats and the
Vickys and the Mirellas and the Regines and the whoevers....and "too
late" for today's democratic free-für-Alles (think of the
deregulation of the airline industry in the U.S.A. - surely it is
cheaper to fly and with more options but the experience is ghastly –
and look now, they is droppin' like flies) in deadly mix with the
quick fixes and seductions of HyperPublicRelations and HyperText. Few
artists can survive without some form or other of critical and
popular encouragement. It became fashionable sport (nah, Mob Rule -
nah, Olympics --- but becuz this singular marathon has and is being
run by throngs-oh-so-bright, we have to coin it The Special Olympics)
for too influential but equally ignorant, tin-eared and incredibly,
corrosively partial critics (and their bedroom partners) to dismiss
these artists' work faster than they could say Compact Disc (and
worse: to fully ignore too – consider the phenomenon, consider the
indignity, consider the abuse, consider the calamity, consider the
chicanery, consider the betrayal that is the Remarkable Eclipsing and
Banishment by the press (we know of no greater form of disrespect) of
a certain v-e-t-e-r-a-n
and c-o-n-t-e-m-p-o-r-a-n-e-o-u-s soprano whose stage appearances
are pre-judged to be just that: Appearances: Phantom Ships In The
Night, when noticed ---- or to fully d-e-n-y the usual "critical
anal(ysis)" - is that what it is? - accorded dimmer lights ("Monsieur
Giordani could not sustain pitch b-u-t the Sicilian understanding"
[by coincidence, the same understanding which, according to the
experts, eludes fellow Southerner Riccardo Muti] - "Madame Phlegming
[no other soprano before or during Renée is known to have "taken
chances"] shrieked unnaturally, gurgling and flatting two high A
naturals and her overall intonation was insecure too b-u-t all that
(jazzy) rhythmic integrity!" (see "Tommasini, Anthony" --- and yet,
you will look in vain for his promotional write-up on that
Verdi "Blanche Dubois" from Houston - *after* the event, that is) –
"Hausfrau Void was in customary shrill and squally voice again last
night and her top sounded tired, though no fault of her own, b-u-t
her sofa scene was comfortably moving --- that Svelte Lil' Debbie
didn't make that final F-sharp is none of your business." - "Irish-
American AFL-CIO Heroine Flanigan [who, by the by, tries (and is
carded) to "sing everything"] [no other soprano before or during
Lauren is known to have "taken chances"] could not sing Reiza's music
[not that she can sing anything, mind you][she replaced DeVoid, who
had also cancelled all engagements in Vienna, and for the 2nd season
in a row - not a bad thing when you try to remember – and try you
must - those Scheiße AIDAs at the MET where Crayola connected them
dots and none of the music - not to mention the brutal stupor that
were Luciano "snotty handkerchief" Pavarotti and the ever-
accomodating, yes? James "sweaty towel" Levine] b-u-t the visceral
ennui of it all") - "Madame Shout squalled
an Elektra consistently below pitch (that's about 75% of your
evening) b-u-t it seems that the excitement of some level or other of
on-pitch faithfulness to and by die Juden and a few silent-movie camp
gestures secured her an unqualified triumph...and an onstage kiss too
from Jimmy Boy (or rather, Jimmy the boy-paedophile - ladies and
gentlemen, you too can have it all: from orchestras in Munich,
Boston, and naturally New York to standing Os to gushing press
coverage to paid Christian holidays to state-sanctioned murder to
state-sanctioned looting to Presidential Pardons (see "Rich,
Jonathan" - see "The Hassidic4 [that's right, not one not two not
three]" - see "Hillary 'some of my relatives are Jews' Clinton" and
the race for the NY State Senate....provided you are "one of us"
or "with us") --- but for how much longer? ....well, all that plus
Gaby is getting better and better and better, yes?" - "Madame Attila
spreads her top like butter on warm bread b-u-t her cool, Nordic,
blonde looks carried the night [our bladders burst open when trying
to reconcile the paradox that is the pre(and post)occupation with
Aryan archetypes by these duplicitous pseudo-minorities in the
industry (you know who and what you are), habitually the first to cry
wolf at the whiff of perceived or real prejudice] --- and more
importantly, she took off her shoes! (but what we'd really like to
know is: what language was *that*, Querida?)" – "Debbie 'Crayola
Opera Program' Void's French (not unlike the strangely clapped Yawn
Upshaw's) and any language other than the Dixie Chicks is for and
about pigeons --- merde --- [Crayola's sour and rusty tonal quality,
let alone her musical probity, are more reminiscent of the gold you
see in soiled underwear than of the Golden Age, by far...and worse:
as stupid as the laundry water you soak and scrub it in] b-u-t
her 'major' contributions to Culture are 'consistent.' --- or is it
the other way 'round? --- B-u-t why give a hoot about such things,
what with all that `Junoesque rhythmic integrity'! (see "Tommasini,
Anthony" – yes, the promoter used that again [as in Renée Fleming] to
sell his Debbie)" - "The consensus that Madame Shorties could not
really sing Konstanze is questionable and, in the end, unfair for she
is a gifted, six-foot taller......b-u-t more importantly, her name is
not Cheryl Studer." - "Monsieur Hiccup proved once more that you can
crack loud and wide before a Manhattan audience of tourists as long
as your name is not Cheryl Studer; b-u-t even better than that, the
loss of 95-plus pounds, in cocktail with a widely broadcast Sob
Story, are sufficient to satisfy the most discriminating thirst of
the-below-IQ-of-47.5 (that's-50%-of-something-or-other-to-you)-and-
minus-set and anyday's coverage of the Arts in "The New York Times"" -
"Maestrisssssimo of Legend, Gilbert "Lego Blocks" Kaplan, swears he
can conduct but one piece of music and one piece of music alone b-u-
t, as one of "our chauvinistic own", full coverage by "The New York
Times" is fully warranted - all that plus a recording medal from the
syphilitic Deutsche Grammophon" – "The authentically FRENCH LetItRain
sounded anonymous and great b-u-t I blame the amplification for some
harshness up top" --- "Suzie B. Anthony's soft-grained portrayals are
just that, soft. B-u-t her problematic top notes, at this early stage
in her career already, should be of no concern to a superb evening." -
"Young Sondra mimed, for she couldn't sing, while (the) Old Nelly
sang, for she couldn't act – this one constituted a triple triumph –
two for the price of one Cheryl Studer – you do the math." - "Also in
Paris, cover-girl Marisol's voice took a toll and she found herself
voiceless b-u-t she mimed ¦with feral abandon and athletic grace!¦
while Lulu, positioned at the stage's edge in a black pantsuit and
the use of a chair and walker!, sang – this too became a triumph, you
see?" - "Everyone's favourite poodle, Ewa Podles, showed up in Philly
and scored a three-register triumph with her debut as Eboli: a splice
job of all your favorite (and not so favorite) Eboli's, on record or
imagined. In
attendance for the Veil Song was Elena Obraztsova, Luciano Pavarotti,
Cheryl Studer, and David Daniels, among others, and for facial
exhaustion, we had the pleasure of Cecilia Bartoli's company; comes to
show how much you can get away with provided your name is not...oh,
never mind." - "Schñfer is certainly no one's idea of coloratura b-u-t
her hip-hop Violetta in Berlin, under the
tolerant/multidimensional/psychodepth baton of Barenboim, must be
remembered as an important achievement –don't ask but do tell." ---
"Make no mistake, Christine is no one's idea of coloratura. B-u-t
her gang-rape Gilda in London (conducted by Sir Edward Downes of 1994
fame) caused Mickey-Mouse-the-Great to significantly wet his
panties..."

To wit...

http://www.operajaponica.org/reviews/dvd/rigoletto00dvd.htm

Verdi: RIGOLETTO

Reviewed by Mickey (Mouse) Richter
01 Nov 2003

Cast: Paolo Gavanelli (Rigoletto), Christine Schñfer (Gilda),
Marcelo Alvarez (Duke), Eric Halfvarson (Sparafucile), Graciela Araya
(Maddalena), Royal Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House,
Edward Downes (conductor), David McVicar (director), Sue Judd (video
director)

{{This may well be Rigoletto for our times. It is a driven
performance without errors but without grace or beauty. The
production is brutal with full frontal nudity illustrating the
depravity of the Mantuan court. Sets are stark and brutal, movements
are exaggerated and explicit.

Yet, on its own terms, it succeeds. It is beautifully recorded,
visually and audibly. Downes offers a more massive and darker sonic
palette than usual with well-judged tempi and ample support for the
singers. Gavanelli's jester lacks mirth and paternal affection, but
one must acknolwedge his ease in the role and his brilliant, ample
baritone. Alvarez is the only one of the three principals with a true
legato, but he has few opportunities to exploit it. His portrayal is
neither inherently evil nor naively wicked; this Duke complies with
the baseness about him rather than leading it. The voice is well
produced over the range (he has the 'Possente amor' cabaletta but
eschews the unwritten high D) though he sounds more brilliant than
beautiful. Schñfer's Gilda is hard rather than innocent, scarcely
less forward than the flirtatious Countess Ceprano. Halfvarson's
Sparafucile cannot reach the depravity achieved so easily by
Gavanelli; Araya seems little more licentious than Gilda.

The story of Rigoletto is brutal. If the beauty and romance of
Verdi's score are diminished, this recording makes its violence
explicit.}}

Why yes, ladies and gents, even these public acts of levitation are
denied Midland, Michigan's Prodigal Daughter --- But then, taking
into account the desperate [in vain] efforts toward reconstruction
and regeneration, toward opening new markets (undue over-exposure in
Arts Journalism and in Arts Ad(as in advertising)ministration - over
who counts - over what counts – and when and where --- and why and
how and how much --- and for how long --- all this being the final
vestige of their former Imperial selves), what is the increasingly
brilliant, independent-minded, informed, impartial, cultured, mature,
eloquent, and sympathetic Anglo/Judeo/Homo-centric Promotional
Universe to do with a creature refusing easy categorization? - of
what value or use is the lady? - of what value or use is the artist? -
who is neither aesthetic suppository (credit where credit is due to
Mr. James Jorden of Parterre Box Productions, certainly Ltd.) nor
psychobabble nor English (nor pretender) n-o-r r-e-s-i-d-e-n-t n-o-r
c-i-t-i-z-e-n n-o-r D-a-m-e nor Faerie Queene nor Greek (nor
pretender) nor black-and-blue (nor pretender) nor Slav (how could she
pretend?) nor German (nor pretender) nor Austrian (nor pretender) nor
squally Kammersñngerin nor French (nor pretender) nor Cinema Paradiso
Italian (nor pretender) nor Eastern European (nor pretender) nor
Spaniard/Latin American bombshell (they are the flavor of the moment
and how could she pretend?) nor Brasilian bossanova nor Argentinian
tango nor Appalachian spring nor Yiddishbbuk nor Anonymous4 (that's
right, not one not two not three) nor Asian (how could she pretend?)
nor Aussie nor Canadian --- nor deemed sufficiently A-m-e-r-i-c-a-n --
- n-o-r r-e-s-i-d-e-n-t nor MET-centric nor Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn-
ette nor Broadway belcher nor Saint Francis-can nor Angelena nor
Chicagoan nor Texan nor New Mexican nor Washingtonian nor Saint Louis
Gal nor panderer nor tall nor thin nor heroine-overdose chic nor deaf
nor dumb nor blind nor blonde nor Blonde Ambition nor Barbie Doll nor
grotesque nor grotesquely zaftig nor power hungry nor agenda driven
nor faghag nor lesbian nor hairy chested nor cherub nor fashion rag
nor glamour puss nor arriviste nor aspirant nor aspirate nor
potential nor promise (what you hear is what you get, sweetheart) nor
apology nor antiquity nor preserved museum mummy nor soccer mom nor
sucker nor trend nor hip nor H.I.P. nor hip-hop nor joined at the hip
nor hippie nor barefoot at Carnegie Hall nor folkie nor cantor nor
castrata nor contralto nor countertenor nor counterculture nor
anarchist nor antichrist nor lyric mezzo nor soprano on the verge of
a mezzo breakdown nor vice versa nor chanteuse nor soubrette nor
starlet nor coquette nor canary nor woodbird nor nightingale nor
cuckoo clock nor tic toc tic toc tic toc nor geriatric nor vanity
record label owner nor downwardtransposer-Hochfinancier-conductor-
doubleintendant-baritenor-voicecompetitor-crossoverpimp-moviemogul-
realestatemagnate-restaurateur-sexsymbol-playboy-jetsetter (all in
one and one for all and all in a night) nor married to one nor lazy
nor lovely nor beloved nor shrinking violet nor daddy's lil' lass nor
mystic nor myth nor minimalist nor hyperbole nor Überfeminist nor
Konzept nor symbolism nor ying nor yang nor Dreams and Fables nor
metaphysics nor philosopher ("Philosophier' Er nicht, Herr
Schatz...") nor scholar (nor pretender) nor didact nor pedant nor
peasant nor lecturer nor soapbox preacher nor symposium nor
musicologist nor composer (you know, like Callas who wrote all them
masterpieces now falsely ascribed to one Bellini, one Donizetti, and
one other Verdi) nor paladin of the glorious avant-garde nor ostinato
nor experiment nor rarity rat nor rat tat tat nor archaeologist nor
room temperature nor Sponsored By Talbots nor Anglican Service nor
Vivaldi postcard nor Handel MBA [opera's answer to the 80s business
phenomenon --- everyone has one --- but look, ma, they is droppin'
like flies!] nor Britten Ph.D. nor Janácek Nobel Prize nor stunt nor
parody nor caricature nor Hallmark Card nor Disney nor Ozzie &
Harriett nor Will & Grace nor smiley face nor horseface nor humor
monger (in any event, not the shtick you grew up with) nor camp nor
marketing-promo tramp nor cliché nor slogan nor acronym nor t®ademark
nor image-chaser nor sensation-seeker nor Eurogarbage nor ez-
listenin' nor pleasure ride nor automatic cruise control nor
sentiment-al nor cripple nor married to one nor victim nor tearjerker
nor nostalgia trip nor tourist trap nor good-cause nor fund-raiser
(so to speak) nor social worker nor United Way nor Red Cross nor
Katie Couric nor Walk For A Cure nor We Are The World nor Sound Of
Music nor Under the Stars nor Over The Rainbow nor Rainbow Coalition
nor Summertime nor Supper Time (nice tunes if you can) nor vanilla
nor cheeze-whiz nor fruit salad nor cotton candy nor apple pie nor
melba toast nor peaches in double cream nor café au lait nor cinnamon
roll nor dark chocolate nor civil/human rights centerfold nor gulag
survivor nor married to one nor refugee nor married to one nor UN
Ambassador nor married to one nor member of any one precious special
interest group (you know who and what you are) n-o-r m-a-r-r-i-e-d t-
o o-n-e n-o-r s-t-r-a-t-e-g-i-c-a-l-l-y w-e-d-d-e-d (you know who and
what you are) nor politician nor married to one nor inter-national
political crisis parasite nor ad-minister of propaganda nor
grassroots peace activist (you do know, don't you, that them ancient
favourite warhorses of yours composed by Bach and Beethoven and
Brahms and Schubert and Schumann and Wagner and Liszt were explicitly
AND implicitly inspired by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict --- or
even better, by the epicentric causes of Israel, Zionism, and of
Universal Jewry --- everything, and we mean everything, seems to
revolve around this Axis, no? --- ask Mehta and Señor Honorario und
Tolerant Barenboim --- by the by, in a recent Chicago program of Hugo
Wolf's Lieder, the "Great Jewish Musician" [and we thought it un-
Klezmer to allude to the man's other career] in harmony with his
German/Christian sub-ordinates – a "physically handicapped baritone"
and an "underpitch soprano" (see "Kubiak, David") (the soprano is one
Angela Denoke, whose disastrous Fidelio Leonore at the Salzburg
Easter Festival of 2003 under Sir Simon will surely have to be
patched by the studio wizards before the "Please-Save-EMI" hype
campaign unfolds) - were heard "r-e-c-l-a-i-m-i-n-g the true meaning
of the 'heilge Deutsches Kunst'" --- again, see "Kubiak, David" ---
kindly note, please, that no one else before `GJM & Co. GmbH' had
accomplished nearly as much, and in a mere evening --- but we live n'
learn --- now we know that Herr Wolf wrote his songs inspired by
populations everywhere holding hands - to promote future handholding.
But Wolf was more than that – he was gracious and generous, which
stands as a synonym for: in addition to reaffirming the existence
[and illegal expansion] of Israel, he also sought to reaffirm the
existence of a specific sexual-orientation population --- and all
this, ladies and gentlemen, for a song) ---
where were we?, ah yes --- nor married to one nor Adler Fella nor
Crayola Opera Program alumna nor Karajan-Harnoncourt-Cardiff-
VeraRosza-Schwarzkopf-Ludwig-Auger-GeorgeLondon-RichieTucker-
BelleSilverman-Albanese-Horne-Scotto-vonStade-Heggie groupie nor
traveler along the Anglo Silk Road --- the LandOfOz-
BerlinStaatsoperUDL-LaMonnaie-ENO-Glyndebourne-NYCO-Glimmerglass-
StLouis-SantaFe-SanDiego-DallasO-HoustonGO-FloridaGO-WashingtonO-n-
such workshop ghettoes.


[Imagine, if you dare.]


E-N-V-Y = D-E-S-T-R-U-C-T-I-O-N
but
S-I-L-E-N-C-E = D-E-A-T-H


Enter into the equation the contemptibly stupid (discerning,
discerning) audiences who (wanted to and still do) believe everything
they read...and voilà, the science gives the (false) i-m-p-r-e-s-s-i-
o-n of yielding the expected (forced) hubris. Then add the ones who
stayed away from attending these artists' performances because they
were simply told to do so (in so many words). Never mind the c-o-w-a-
r-d-s who n-e-v-e-r attended, self-admittedly, but who later saw
fit to publish obituaries passing for legitimate eyewitness report
{BIDU SAYAO, 1902-1999 BRAZILIAN SOPRANO BROUGHT SPARKLE TO
MET / "The Boston Globe" / Author: Richard Dyer / Date: 19.03.1999 /
Section: Living (?) Arts}(again, check out "Maestros of the Pen: A
History of Classical Music Criticism in America", 1998, by Mark N.
Grant, and see if you can spot "Dyer, Richard"). Never mind the h-y-p-
o-c-r-i-t-e-s who, in addition to prematurely and irresponsibly
issuing death certificates (see "Davis, Peter G."), years later were
caught with their pants down performing auto-erotica to the tune
of "Returns Triumphant!" (see "Davis, Peter G."). Little wonder
many ceased listening --- and begin listening with others' ears and
without their own little heads and hearts they did. But leave it to
the bloodless (and if you don't have blood you don't need a heart and
if you don't have blood you will find yourself thirsty, very thirsty,
guaranteed) - it is in fact their exclusive province - to accomplish
such feats. No, they were/are neither Maria nor Renata nor Renata nor
Joan nor Leonie nor Gwyneth nor Anja --- impeccable vocalists that
they were --- and why should they be? --- Take the particularly
complex case of a fascinatingly complex yet elemental yet thoroughly
modern, and yet not, artist...Cheryl Studer --- was/is the backlash
really for l-a-c-k o-f q-u-a-l-i-t-y, for l-a-c-k o-f a-r-t-i-s-t-i-c
w-o-r-t-h, for l-a-c-k o-f t-e-m-p-e-r-a-m-e-n-t, for l-a-c-k o-f p-e-
r-s-o-n-a-l-i-t-y?

A decade or so later there is a pregnant, pulsating and penetrating
sense of panic and fatigue among critics, industry folk, and fanatics
(naughty word but only and only when linked with you-know-who) alike,
most shockingly noticeable within the gated communities of the old
and the jaded, who can be heard loudly cheerleading anyone (and we
mean anything)....


[....as long as their names are n-o-t Cheryl Studer.]


[God Willing.]


[And yet more Enchantment/Jubilation courtesy of the
Panacea/Schadenfreude of Cheryl Studer-Free Zones/Ground Zeroes.]


[Sternstunde.]


[God Willing.]


[Young Ones - Do not be duped by the hollow enthusiasms of the age ---
ever seen a sad clown playing happy?]


[But now, oh today....Music and Art....or rather, what passes for
it....and every new product or stage appearance tossed our way by the
Star System we hate to love (certainly a system long preceding but
fatally ran to the ground by the quasi-empty rhetoric and prissiness
of political correctness run amok and afoul, and the Gestapo-like
censorship tactics of the instinct/thought-control police, in concert
with the 'World Music Congress' - the Rudases, the Breslins, the Sire
Jonases, the Mehtas, the Holenders (whose nose is long and arrogant
enough to sniff all the way to the Volksoper and as far as Berlin),
the Levines, the Maazels, the Heymanns, the Previns, the self-
professed rap-music fans of the world (see "von Dohnányi, Christoph" -
-- Uncle must be spinning in his ashes --- ladies and gentlemen, more
often than we are led to believe, death CAN be in vain), The Due(tto)
or Three or Four or Five or Six or Seven Whores - we are losing
count -, Best Friends & Co. Inc. Ltd. S.A. GmbH –-- the Ozawas and the
Gergievs too (following in the goosesteps, in the like-minded Grand
Gestures of Mehta and Maazel, Valery and Seiji would rather
accommodate [and have] the Blind n' Pop(ular) Lounge Singer than the
likes of Gorchakova --- yes, to this level we have sunk) are prime
shareholders (and puppets) in this repugnant jUdErEi – (that's right)
- i.e., by the Wish-Upon-a-Star System of Bocelli, of course, or
Hampson (now pretty much an undisputed by-the-book Straussian,
Wagnerian a-n-d ...hear hear...Verdian...of Stature, don't you know?)
or the Alagnas (f-a-k-e recordings of Verdi's -Trovatore- for Sire
Tony/EMI and Bizet's - Carmen-, also for Sire-to-be Whoever/EMI ---
Grecian Approximation No. XXVI - we have lost count - has yet to sing
Leonora or Carmen where it counts) or the other Bocelli and Michael
Bolton comrade, Fleming....well, all of it h-a-s sudden Meaning and
Necessity, so the public relationists tell us....the Magic courtesy,
n-e-i-t-h-e-r because of especially great voices nor exceptional
interpretive wills nor because of bona fide personalities n-o-r
because of remotely acceptable n-e-w music, but because:

NUMBER 1: their names are n-o-t Cheryl Studer

and

NUMBER 2: ...*in good portion and out of proportion* due to the
PromoOp-Catchpenny that has become 9.11 and its aftermath --- a
monstrous crime monstrously debased by the Infernal Spinning Wheel of
opportunism and commerce and avarice and mayhem and revenge and
murder (widely disguised as justice) --- a tragedy now symbiotically
hijacked to peddle everything from Arms Races to Military Buildups to
Far Right-ism (see "Sharon, Ariel" --- how come we don't hear strings
of consistently shrill High Cs crying for h-i-s removal and disposal
of h-i-s (that is, ours) Weapons Of Mass Destruction --- the latest
government double-standard/media buzzword and insult to our dignity
and intelligence --- this time, however, we applaud Barenboim for
being practically the only one playing FIDDLE ON THE ROOT of the
problem) to Nationalism to Patriotism to Requiems to Anglo-Zionist
Terrorism --- the latter conducted both musically and extra-
curricularly, most prominently with (critical mass-destruction) Heavy-
Metal made in the squeaky clean U.S. of A. and paid for with y-o-u-r
humble American tax dollar (as if you had a choice) and the blood of
y-o-u-r sons and daughters. --- So why won't Israel and its
Business/Washington lobbyists fight their next
door neighbors, which include Iraq and now Syria and Iran, all by
themselves and with t-h-e-i-r o-w-n currency and leave us all a-l-
o-n-e a-n-d i-n p-e-a-c-e?]

[Consequently, would that t-h-e o-t-h-e-r terrorists (for there
are two sets) went home too.]

[Did we fail to add that the terrorists need the U.S. as much as the
U.S. needs them?]

[As it turns out, no other country --- no other --- is as arrogant,
as infantile, as selfish, as bellicose, as disrespectful, as
insulting, as pervasively poisonous, as dubious, as abusive, as
destructive, and as dangerous as the USA (in "universal" coalition
with its satellites: its former occupier the UK and the UK-occupied
Palestine, Israel). And we mean militarily, economically,
politically, diplomatically, spiritually, culturally, and
philosophically – about the latter five, it is the stuff of
bankruptcy courts and all are on equal footing. Sviatoslav Richter
knew (better yet, f-e-l-t) this and never came back. So did Brigitte
Fassbaender. Terrible.]


[In other words, and in some order or other of appearance...


NO MORE BLOOD FOR `THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY'
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE WILLIAM KRISTOLS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE PAUL WOLFOWITZES
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE ALAN GREENSPANS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE JOE LIEBERMANS (er, THE JOHN KERRYS)
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE LEFT-WING JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE LEFT-OF-CENTER JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE CENTERED JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE RIGHT-OF-CENTER JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE RIGHT-WING JEWISH LOBBY
NO MORE BLOOD FOR SHARON'S SANDBOX
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE RIGHT-WING CHRISTIAN LOBBY
(Surprise of surprises --- The ever-clever Jews
have contrived to ingratiate themselves with this
segment as well, among all the others)
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE DICK CHENEYS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE DONALD RUMSFELDS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE JOHN ASHCROFTS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR ARROGANCE
NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL
NO MORE BLOOD FOR VENGEANCE
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE TONY BLAIRS
NO MORE BLOOD FOR THE MARIONETTE/MINSTREL ACTS OF
Sir COLIN POWELL, Dame CONDOLEEZA RICE, and
Sir KOFFI ANNAN]


[Discuss, if you dare.]


[About the new studio-product ('tis is what we call them fakery, no?)
from EMI ---IDOMENEO---, we have read puff like "a recording that n-
e-e-d-e-d to be made." --- after all, it contains the antipodean
missionary of all things English, Sir Charles; British Will o' Wisp
Bostridge; the Bocelli collaborator Frittoli; and, to top it all, the
New (Age) Callas – the organically-grown, FDA approved, anodyne,
pastel, drab as damp cardboard, and dull as fishwater, LetItRain Hunt
(hyphen – I married a techie with composer pretensions + I too have a
little Sob Story in circulation - what is yours?) Lieberson. But do
not for a second believe the ad-men....for this product is yet more
of the ho-hum variety.]

[And don't forget that LetItRain is an "a-r-t-i-s-t", sensitive and
musical - albeit a very very VERY part-time one - but please
understand that very very VERY few others are as musical, let alone
sensitive and artistic].

[About the GRAMMY®-winning but not-so-new DECCA ---COCKSUCKER BLUES---
, we have read fluff like "A New F-i-r-s-t L-a-d-y of Bel Canto -
Renée Fleming very nearly manages to shake the insistent ghost of
Maria Callas." (see "http://www.andante.com") --- But we are neither
deaf nor naïve nor stupid. You see, n-e-v-e-r e-v-e-r f-o-r-g-e-t,
we insist, that sopranos of the caliber of Cheryl and Maria (to name
but two), frayed of voice and heart or not, n-e-v-e-r e-v-e-r s-t-o-o-
p-e-d this low (below the navel) in the style department. But after
all, the new product (foreplayed in a studio some years ago but not
ejaculated for another 2 or 3) is being cart-wheeled under a neon
sign that reads "bel canto" (yes, in lowercase and with the 'b'
dangling), complete with a $2 rebate incentive b-e-l-o-w its already
reduced repo artistic value - ya know, in the manner of the stereo-
typical toupéed and polyester-clad used-car salesman – breathy,
cajoling, cheap, cheesy, insincere, sleazy, slimy, slippery, sticky --
in that order – and that's the singing -- a raw deal -- a lemon. Hard
to swallow, ain't it?]

----------------------------

IF YO NO KEEP `EM ENTERTAIN' N' DISTRACTED N' IGNORANT N' PLACID(O),
WHO GONNA FIGH' YO WARS?


Blue-Collar/Working-Class Cheap Labor (and the aesthetics, or lack
of, of --- but why stop there? --- how about the absolute absence of
artistic acumen? --- see "Flanigan, Lauren" - see "Radvanovsky,
Sondra" - see "Goerke, Christine" – see "Makarina, Olga"-
- see "Guleghina, Maria" - see "Queler, Eve" – see "Oren, Daniel" –
see "Chaslin, Frédéric" - see "Eastern Europeans" – see "the little
touring companies that could") and Blitzkrieg-style Public Relations
and Marketing have been summoned to the cause of salvaging something
or other from the debris of these self-appointed arbiters/stewards of
taste [tastes ranging from (Z)ubin to Purcell to Kirkby to (A)nalSex –
the rawer the longer the harder the faster the deeper the sooner the
better] and self-avowed "opera/music lovers'" own making. And thus
have the armies of businessmen landed, triumphantly, with portfolios
chock-full with the losers, the useless, the amateurs, the
dilettantes, the pedigree-less, the unaccomplished, the homo-geneous,
the vocally faceless, the emaciated, the pretty, the photogenic, the
grotesque too, the church rodents, the H.I.P.-voiced, the H.I.P.-
mannered, the pedigree-less, the correct, the obedient, the mega-
amplified, the firefighters, the policemen, the heroes, the
construction workers, the factory slaves, the custodians, the
industrial quality, the white trash, the divas next door; the divas
next door with the cute children as gimmicks; the divas next door who
are so nice and behave so well and who must reassure us about it; the
divas next door who seek psychotherapy and then have the distaste to
announce it; the vedettes next door who love all that jazz and then
scat and squat through e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that is European a-n-d
Classical and not --- but then, in music that requires precisely
that, the phlegm gets in the way of that thang called swing; the
divas next door who thrive on wrestling, meatloaf, and fish n' chips -
-- and look and sound it; the garish mansions next door who marry
well, transgenderly; the divas next door who, although already in
their 40s and beyond, must appease us by "taking baby steps to
protect their voices" and who swear that that's why they will still
be in their prime in extreme old age; the divas next door who swear
we will want to hear them then; the optically challenged, the
physically handicapped, the sob stories, more sob stories, the
victims, the politics of victimhood,
the politics of sexual orientation, the politics of identity, the
politics of race, the politics of reverse racism, the politics of we-
are-holier-than-thou, the politics of lifestyle, the politics of
triviality, the politics of image, the politics of artifice, the
politics of banality, the politics of favoritism, the politics of
partisanship, the politics of corruption, the politics of indecency,
the politics of Puritanism, the politics of fleecing, the politics of
the willing, the politics of "coalition", the politics of crass
deception, the politics of the willful, the politics of oppression
disguised as liberation, the politics of extracurricular social
agendas, the politics of inadequacy, the politics of "The American
Peepole," the politics of dumbing-down, the politics of the lowest
possible common denominator, the pedigree-less, the pedigree-less,
the pedigree-less, and yet more of that. And some more sob stories.
And not to be missed: the Teddy Bears (think of – well not really,
since you can't – the vocal troubles, the gross embarrassments of
stunt-ed live programs - everything from Beg Your Indulgences to
Public Regrets to Tosti to Walkouts - from, for instance, Juan
Dieguito Flórez, the Brightman/Bocelli/Church/Sissel-comrade Domingo,
the other Sissel and Bocelli comrade-in-arms Terfel, and Heppner – no
matter - the insulted audiences correspond to their own cheating with
tears and Standing Os --- but no surprise here, for it is nothing but
another perversion of our desensitized, demoralized, diseased,
frivolous, diluted, confused, and vulgar days.)

FUCK ME

Even Joseito Carreras became the object of one of these
demonstrations - and this in the enlightened and improved and newly
innocent and important again (or so it goes) Salzburg of the summer
of two-thousand-and-two-After-Christ --- to you that's 20+ years
since the Spaniard lost IT --- or almost a quarter century riding on
the [petty]coattails of his own sob story).

HARDER PLEASE

On the opposite receiving end we read the quasi-ecstatic notices on
behalf of Merola-ite but no one's conception of sound vocalism (until
now, mysteriously), Luana DeVol.


And thus today's so-called "A-List" (really, nothing but a paid
announcement transmitted by the "Ass-ociated Press"), the P®ops, the
Pops, the Popp Clones (she of the intellectual and revisionist and
hyperkonzeptual and seminal and monumentally popular programs, right
Sir Peter?), the Grümmer Clones, the Callas Clones, the Tebaldi
Clones, the Sutherland Wannabes, the Steber Clones, the Schwarzkopf
Clones, the Sarah Vaughan Clones, the Price Clones, the Janowitz
Clones, the Freni Wannabes, the Janet Baker Clones, the
Fischer-Dieskau Clones, the Furtwñngler Clones, the Cut n' Paste
Composites --- poor, pitiful
facsimiles a-l-l ---, the Little Names, the Wannabes, the Crossover
Hustlers, the Bubblegum, the New Age Mongrels, the Postmoderns, the
Postmortems, the Multiculturalists, the Community Initiatives, the
Soundbites, the Marketing Love Couples/Traumpaars (in the tradition
of Peter n' Ben, Sir Peter n' Sancta Lucia, Galina n' Misha, Richard
n' Joan, Edita n' Friedrich, Dietrich n' Julia, Anja n' Wieland,
Christoph n' Anja, Christa n' Walter, Walter n' Elisabeth, Maria n'
Ari, Plácido n' Marta, Nicoletta n' Luciano [we have lost count], now
we have Arnold n' Maria, Peter n' Petra, Angela n' Roberto, Mia n'
André, André n' Anne-Sophie --- by the widest and longest possible
stretch of the imagination, her greatest career move since Karajan
and since commissioning two or three (m)utterly charmless and
obsolete b-u-t oh-so-rigorous! works for fiddle), the Exquisite, the
Divine, the Fabulous, the Delicious, the Magnificent, the Paramount,
the Fantabulous, and the Little Labels That Could all have it
relatively easy in comparison to that preceding generation. And the
critical standards --- what standards? - whose? – of what era? ---
have reformed, or rather, have doubled and tripled....But injury is
often prone to insult. Hell, standards have liquified and then
evaporated vis a vis the new generation. It is no longer Sound Music
Criticism but Lowest-Common-Denominator Public Relations Spin [and
much worse: the fixation with that elusive something known as
technique --- technique and organization and perfection as ends in
themselves: music-making as athletic match: missing the forest for
the trees --- but this is another angle for another day – or is it?].
So much so that it has become strangely and suddenly k-o-s-h-e-r once
more (Jesus!, how many more times are we going to hear about market
over-saturation?) to make records [and k-o-s-h-e-r again to be
an "American Opera Singer"] (Remember when you and I were advised [or
should we say advertised?] to please r-e-j-e-c-t, swiftly and
wholesale, them records [or anything containing Cheryl Studer --- or,
for that matter, any, and we mean any attempt at open discourse on
her art? --- Do you remember the longstanding efforts amounting to a
campaign to discredit the lady and her work? --- Must you be made
aware of the pall hovering over the mere mention of her name in some
circles? --- You do not need to be told, do you?, of the air-tight
atmosphere surrounding the lady's name, tantamount to Can-Do-No-
Right – not then, not now --- Have you forgotten the p-r-e-v-e-n-t-i-
o-n measures taken by the taste/censorship police in these forums in
order to curtail all possibility of even the minutest measure
whiffing of favourable discourse on her art?] --- Oh, you know the
litany --- something about digital and generalized and faked and
frigid and manufactured and calibrated and illusory and phony and
phoned-in and un-necessary and un-fair and in-competent and in-
personal and contrived and in-experienced and un-felt and in-
expressive and ex-pensive and un-popular and over-exposed and under
the note and un-communicative and dull and null and sterile and
perfect and flawed and clinical and precise and international
(curiously, we hardly read such venom spouted at failed-serialist-
turned-serial-partitur-surgeon Pierre Boulez) (and yes, yet again our
bladders burst open --- consider that these traditionally liberal-
anythinggoes-wandering-international minorities are the same ones
seen n' heard wailing like widows over the caskets of
national/regional styles --- but *try* telling them *that* --- try
telling them that their notion of musical-personalities-and-music-
making-as-china-doll has come unglued and undone --- finished --- or
ought to be) and this and that and that and this - beautiful even -
artistic even - you know, the toxic byproduct of uncontained
Kapitalismus - the same Kapitalismus, isn't it?, that gave us such
goodies as Meyerbeer Halévy & Sons, penicillin, Bocelli & Sons, cheap
sentiments, more penicillin, Alan `my-competence-includes-championing-
the-OJ-Simpson-cause-and-the-case-FOR-torture-but-as-a-Jew'
Dershowitz, more penicillin, the Holocash, the Armenian, Russian, and
Chinese Holocausts no one *and we mean no one* made an Industry of,
the current Holocaust under our noses in Congo no one hears or cares
about, Convenience Dictatorships, convenience stores, preservatives,
PCPs, cigarettes, cancer, sunglasses, sunblock, suntanning, more
cancer, opera glasses, the megaphone, the horn, the microphone, the
photograph, the ("fideistic" and most pleasurable) Mapleson
cylinders, maple syrup, Marston Records, naXos, the phonograph, the
light bulb, gaslight, lamps, shades, nostalgia, animated pictures,
the telegraph, the typewriter, carbon paper, the telephone, the
clock, the metronome, the pitch fork, the antenna, the satellite
dish, the radio, the television, bandwidth, TV dinners, the
calculator, the metric system, calendars, famine, feast, walkie-
talkies, headphones, headsets, X-rays, MRIs, cat-scans, night vision
goggles, Google, Usenet, Yahoo, beepers, intercoms, elevators,
escalators, bicycles, stationary bicycles, stationery, faster trains,
the automobile, the jet plane, motorbikes, snowmobiles, surfboards,
skateboards, rollerblades, ice skates, rollercoasters, houses of
horror, houses of cards, houses of mirrors, Martha Stewart, Wal-Mart,
Jerry Springer, NASCAR, The Vagina Monologues, Cori Ellison, Anne
Midgette, Manuela Hoelterhoff, the efforts to erode the composition
and sound and culture of the Vienna Philharmonic (in the manner of
your favourite American Affirmative Action country club or of your
favourite International-sounding ensemble), trailer parks, fast food,
junk food, malnutrition, gluttony, obesity, anorexia nervosa,
nervousness, bulimia, lawn mowers, snow blowers, vacuum cleaners,
detergents, mops, brooms, dust pans, rags, sponges, shags, wigs,
afros, mini-skirts, bellbottoms, platform shoes, pajamas, lingerie,
bikinis, stockings, lava lamps, disco, beat poetry, grunge, turbos,
sedans, vans, buses, minibuses, limousines, tanks, bulldozers,
canoes, motor boats, sail boats, battleships, submarines, B52s, F16s,
space shuttles, robots, rockets, missiles, bombs, stealth bombers,
torpedoes, landmines, telescopes, Star Wars, Nuclear Races, Weapons
of Mass Destruction, Agent Orange, palm trees, palm pilots, Napalm,
Nepal, Free Tibet, Save the Whales, note pads, Post-Its, Hiroshima,
Dresden, Vietnam (to name but a few of these insignificant mishaps,
right?), MOABs (about the testing in mid-March of 2003 of such
destructive a WMD in Florida, USA --- about the latest sham, that of
Schwarzenegger in California, USA --- that either fiasco failed to
generate as much environmental, moral, philosophical and whatnot
concerns all around as a photo-op, says everything we need to know
about the collective swamp we are), Apaches, Indian Reservations,
indians, cowboys, Kleenex (we often cultivate and later spoon-feed
you the Sob Stories but we also arm you with the tissue to wipe out
the tears --- all on OUR terms), duct tape, gas masks, mascara,
cosmetics, perfumes, Tammy Faye Baker, Mary Kay, Pink Cadillacs,
Tupperware, bingo, lotteries, the welfare system, WICs, Vegas,
Niagara Falls, casinos, Elvis, brilliantine, Crisco, hairspray, hair
dryers, exhaust fumes, exhaustion, stimulants, sleep deprivation,
sedatives, alcoholism, depression, depleted Ozone layers, synthetic
fibers, fiberoptics, boxing, wrestling, rugby, frying bacon, monaural
sound, analog tech, reel-to-reels, 8-tracks, the cassette, the LP,
stereo systems, stereo sound, surround sound, boom boxes, faxes,
paper clips, nail clippers, paper shredders, photocopiers, laser
printers, overnight mail, the (unfortunate and devastating to the
testimonials of a vast majority of contemporary artists) digital
technology, the PC, laptops, lapdogs, hot dogs, alarm clocks,
wristwatches, dishwashers, ice boxes, refrigerators, toasters, ovens,
microwave ovens, food processors, blenders, the CD, SACD, the
walkman, the minidisc, the famous (pitch re-engineered) Richter CD-
ROMs, the (disgracefully influential, sound-engineering-bag-of-tricks-
wise) Anglo/Judeo DECCA/Culshaw/Solti Ring, MTV, commercial
infrastructures, eBay, Spam, frozen French fries, burnt-thin-weak
American coffee, diners, Java, Starbucks, generators, engines,
batteries, bartering, butter, department stores, super stores,
supermarkets, mega stores, shopping malls, strip malls,
overdevelopment, superstores, parking lots, overspending, high debt,
low savings, high crime, rampant violence, credit cards, more credit
cards, Carte Blanche (for some --- you know who and what you are),
bonus points, more fleecing, fees, fees, fees everywhere, more
penicillin, toothpaste, toothpicks, magazines, annual reports, filing
cabinets, paper paper paper everywhere, papered halls, confetti, more
paper shuffling, bureaucracies, red tape, yellow ribbons,
deforestation, tourism, eco-tourism, Chevron/Texaco, Tibet, Mt.
Everest, B&Bs, R&B, hotels, hostels, motels, park benches, jacuzzis,
T-lifts, plastic surgery, breast implants, Vail, Viagra, ski resorts,
Park Ave., Madison Ave., boulevards, summer homes, increasingly short
vacations, ice cream, cotton candy, cotton balls, Q-tips, ear plugs,
The Boston Pops, more wallpaper, formica, wood paneling, pop tarts,
lollipops, soda pop, pop psychology, popcorn, corn flakes, vitamins,
herbs, steroids, gymnasiums, hoola-hoops, pinballs, Chinese checkers,
yo-yos, Yo-Yo Ma, Tan Dun, John Williams, Bobby McFerrin, PBS, Yanni,
yet more wallpaper, more penicillin please, jams, jelly, jell-o, J-
Lo, day-glo, go-go, psychedelia, fans, air conditioning, wallpaper,
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, 600+ variations on a theme, silk flowers,
plastic flowers, fake spring water, faux marble, faux fur, faux
leather, animal rights, stuffed animals, andante.com, 12,000 other
music websites, the pirates, special effects, the VHS, HTML, the WWW,
Apples, Windows, ATMs, FTD, LSD, FTC, IMF, DNA, UPS, the cell phone,
the LD, the DVD, MP3s, HMV, Opera In The Original (that's English to
you, naturally and perennially), survivor shows, SUVs, BMWs, VWs,
IRAs, 401Ks, BBQs, bb guns, water coolers, televised war crimes,
video games, Andy Warhol, instant soup, instant gratification,
Instant Opera, Opera For All (a noble Konzept but it's just that
the "critical masses" ain't there any longer...nor do they care to
be), Shock n' Awe, more penicillin, Toys r' Us, CNN operas, soap, soap
operas, Oprah, Howard Stern, more penicillin, Hollywood blockbusters,
Hollywood stereotyping (but seldom of "their own" --- you know who
and what you are), Jewish Racism (an issue of semantics, for we
hardly dare call it what it is), more penicillin, Sellars Konwitschny
Neuenfels Beito Wilson & Zambello, yet more penicillin, El Niño,
septic tanks, latrines, toilet stalls, more penicillin, yet more
Regietheater, yet more penicillin, graffiti, tattoos, wax, S&M, M&Ms,
teflon, styrofoam, disposable incomes, tax loopholes, tax havens,
creative accounting, ENRON, insurance scams, for-profit health care,
nannies, nurseries, nursing homes, retirement communities, inner-city
squalor, overpriced sneakers, gangs, segregation, not-in-my-backyard
liberals, For-God-and-Country right-wingers, country clubs,
fraternities, underpaid overseas labor, economies of scale, ever
widening income gaps, The Gap, GNP, NASA, the NASDAQ, the NYSE, all
out grossness, waste dumps, twisted metal, scrap heaps, junkyards,
scaffolds, the ENO, more penicillin, karaoke, red light districts,
peep shows, more penicillin, laxatives, aspirin, contraceptives,
antacids, the legal and illegal drug culture, the corner drugstore,
super drugstores, syringes, methadone, band-aids, prophylactics, test
tube babies, petri dishes, no culture, bagels, pretzels, lox, hummus,
Hummers, hybrids, Vilar gardens, Vilar foyers, Vilar lobbying, Vilar
titles, Vilar entitlements, Vilar foreclosures, Vilar defaults, Vilar
promises, skyscrapers, corporate-filtered news and op-eds, supply and
no demand, no supply and demand, overflow, overlap, overhead,
exaggerated price markups, unpaid overtime labor, the cheapest labor
since slavery and then bread --- the Economy of Volunteerism, the
Economy of Temporary Labor, outsourcing, more fleecing, multitasking,
micromanaging, compartmentalization, specialization (and yet today we
celebrate in the best way we can, posthumously, the versatility,
repertory escapades and consistently diamantine vocalism, yes?, of a
century+ ago of, say, the immortal [and Jewess] Lilli Lehmann or, for
that matter, of anyone – provided their last name is not Studer ---
and for that matter, how many of you experienced either one where it
counts?), teleconferencing, telemarketing, wireless technology (but
what are we really communicating?), multimedia, microchips, silicon
(perhaps all that sand in the Middle East, which includes Israel,
could be put to good use – BLOOD FOR SAND? --- nah, not worth it),
underutilized solar energy, superhighways, software, hardware,
peripherals, acoustically enhanced opera houses and concert halls,
euphemisms, masked balls, virtual reality, cloning, artificial
intelligence, Callas martyrs, more penicillin, Caruso, Ponselle,
Callas, more Callas, more penicillin, Flagstad, Nilsson, more EMI
Callas re-re-re-re-re-regurgitations, more penicillin, yet more Sony
Glenn Gould re-re-re-re-re-compilations, yet more penicillin, yet
more Vladimir Horowitz re-re-re-re-re-releases, yet more penicillin --
- and of course, the same Kapitalismus that has transmitted the Oh So
Long Anticipated, Oh So Very Important and, at last!, Oh So Necessary
EWIGE WELTKULTURERBE belonging to, for example and randomly,
Pavarotti's new excremental release (the Pop album), Bocelli,
Cecilia, Bryn, Barenboim, Zubin `I owe my spectacles to the Jews'
Mehta, Petra-Maria, E-di-ta! E-di-ta! E-di-ta!, LetItRain, Beverly,
Sir Simon, Ozawa, Renée, Gergiev, Galina, Neil, Aprile Millo [these
days (that is, when she is not excusing herself to audiences or
performing in restaurants) reduced - or is it enhanced? – to croon,
pathetically and below the note, opposite Danny Boy The 9.11 NYPD
Singin' Cop], Alessandra, Grace, Shirley, Jessye, von Otter,
Schñfer, "Marilyn Monroe Purr" and "Broadway Casting Agent's Dream"
Debbie (see "Ross, Alex" and "Tommasini, Anthony" respectively) - (a
f-a-k-e recording of R. Strauss' -Friedenstag- for Sinopoli/DGG ---
"...Deborah Voigt's Maria...was in fact dubbed in after the
recording was completed, after the original soprano had dropped
out...." -'Fanfare', Sep/Oct 2002, p. 214), Cathy, Kathy, Jane,
Ruthie Ann!, "Veteran Wagnerian" Karita (see CareerHomo-turned-critic-
turned-promoter "Tommasini, Anthony") - (a f-a-k-e recording of
Schoenberg's -Gurrelieder- for Sire Simon/EMI -
http://andante.com/magazine/article.cfm?id=17979),
Violeta (a f-a-k-e recording of Poncielli's –Gioconda- for Sir-to-be
Viotti/EMI – Urmana has yet to sing Gioconda where it counts (and
neither has her Spanish-Fly cohort as Enzo) – but at least she is
still in possession of her renowned italianitÓ and coloratura
abilities, yes?, sufficient to render her a Favorite of critics and
maybe, just maybe, to secure some paltry "Please-Save-EMI" sales),
Waltraud - and much much more) ----- for naXos, FARAO, Rare Opera,
Mom & Pop, even for Lucifer Classics. No matter.


[But......we are afraid it's t-o-o l-a-t-e --- because the
registers, they ain't ringin' (and all too often and in contradiction
to what we are led to believe, not just the cash ones). Regrets.]


3C. How exactly is naXos alleviating the crisis of overcrowding and
confusion among consumers? In opera titles alone, they have recorded
yet a-n-e-w: Boheme, Fidelio, Butterfly, Tosca, Flying Dutchman,
Barber of Seville, Aida, Rigoletto, Magic Flute, and on and on and
on. Correct us if we are wrong, but these bread and butter works were
not lacking in existing documentation, whether historical or not,
hysterical or not, distinguished or not, low end or not. And the
combined sad efforts from naXos simply do not measure up. Why pay
less, then, when you can get better and more for twice the price?

3D. "Oh but it does mean something, it does", we say. So the "average
music lover" has become the barometer of quality and relevance?
Indeed they don't deserve Muti, Abbado, or Chailly (however much they
deserve the three-minute-aria-cum-top-ten-hit and however little they
give a dime or deserve whatever happens before and after the
goddamn Big Tune). And is the Hulun Hu Tympany Orchestra really
better than Amsterdam, Dresden, Berlin or Vienna? (although, truth be
told, too many of us have heard the Vienna, for o


Name: Amanda
Profession: undergraduate vocal student
Date: 04/22/2004 01:38:52 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. I think that most Americans view it as such because it generally requires more concentration than the average American cares to give to his or her entertainment. Most people want to be quickly, easily, and cheaply entertained, but classical music and opera require audiences to listen attentively and intellectually.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think a successful artist must be flexible enough to perform music from many different genres. Popular music, jazz, and musical theater are all art forms in their own right and should not be completely excluded from the repertoire of a primarily classical vocalist lke Renee.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think classical music is on the decline, and so is opera. The American public does not want their entertainment to be as intellectually demanding as classical music (and opera) is. However, I do believe that it is very much alive in the music schools and conservatories around the conutry (and the world) and will never completely die out as long as it continues to inspire new music students.


Name: Beth Schuman
Profession: Administrative Assistant
Date: 04/21/2004 10:58:47 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think any art form that does not appeal to the masses in general borders on elitist simply because it appeals to a select group of people. Plus, many opera fans like to present themselves as super-enlightened folks, which turns others off and also perpetuates the myth of elitism.

There's a great dichotomy as opera fans bemoan the woeful state of opera in the mainstream, but when something begins to appeal to the masses, these opera fans cry foul. They don't want anyone in their secret club.

Opera & classical music are not the easiest things to listen to. Many people find that it takes too much effort. That alone turns many people away. And then there is the language problem. I have heard people compare it to watching a foreign film: "Why would I want to read a movie?" "Why would I want to read the opera?" Maybe it's a symptom of our fast-food, immediate gratification society.

In general, I feel that the audience at a classical concert or opera is not necessarily more intelligent or more enlightened or more cultured. They are just differently cultured, whether that is through upbringing or some other event that brought them to it. An event. There is an elitist tinge to something that many people don't get turned onto until they experience some life-altering "event" - - a performance that changes their lives.

This music requires concentration and active listening. Sadly, these requirements may never appeal to the masses, but is there anything wrong with that?

I don't like to think of it as elitist. I like to think of it as merely a different choice.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She is free to sing what she feels comfortable with. I think many "purists" object to her singing pop music. It baffles me why they get so worked up about it. It doesn't hurt anybody. I suppose they want all of their opera singers to be serious intellectuals who listen to opera all day long. Perhaps they are afraid that the pop music will introduce more fans to opera and this will infringe upon their "elite" world.

Renee seems to be one of those rare singers who can succeed at both types. The pop/jazzy stuff she sings is not something I personally enjoy, but she seems to be good at it. It certainly doesn't imply that she is any less serious about her art. Just by listening to one interview with her, you can tell she gives great thought to the state of classical music and her repertoire choices.

She is an artist and should be able to sing what she wants.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I worry about the future of classical music, especially when I see the Chicago Symphony with half-filled houses. It can't all be due to high ticket prices, as many of them are not that high. It's more costly to attend a sports event. I object to "dumbing down" of the music and performances. But there is nothing wrong with having a little fun at a symphony concert. But then again, when's the last time anybody had "fun" at a symphony concert? Anybody who isn't already a confirmed fan, that is.

Opera seems to be a slightly easier sell, most likely due to the drama on-stage.

I don't know the answers, but I do worry about the future. Sometimes I am jealous about the Berlin situation, as they fight for the 3 opera houses and the story is in the papers constantly. For us Americans to fret about such things is practically unheard of.


Date: 04/21/2004 04:11:24 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. However it is a form that requires experience and a willingness to understand. It is not typically blatant or obvious and thus requires active participation on the part of the listener. However it is no more elite than an in-depth news story as compared top a 30 seconds sound bite. Other than being reverse snobbery, the charge really relates to the greater effort required to understand opera/classical music" -- which can be extended to Stephen Sondeheim, the Gershwins, Cole Porter and many of the composers of America's leider, the "Great American Song".

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I personally would welcome Diva Fleming's exploring the music of America's musical theatre but on its own terms. As a consequence of hearing her since "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", I would suggest thuis sometimes is not done; but I have heard her do other examples in a most pleasing manner. The musical theatre is part of her tradition, and I would trust that she could well incorporate appropriate examples into her extraordinatrily well;-planned programs and encores. Sondheim and Porter should in particular be of interest

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I would not say "endangered": but would say threatened, sometimes by its very practicioners. Granted the magnificence of Diva Flemming's voice and execution, she still presents hetself to her audiences in a way that is warm and charming way -- as opposed to standing and singing. I might not mind the latter but today's audiences expect personality from performers. Renee Fleming has it, Georg Solti in his way had it, as do Divas Mattila and von Otter. Opera I feel is more healthy than recitals because the singers have learned to act and directors that opera is both a theatrical and musical event. Symphonies have a problem the solution to which rests largely with the musical directors, a problem many, such as Maestro Barenbaum, do not want to address.


Name: Niel Rishoi
Date: 04/21/2004 06:02:48 AM


How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Wie wenn singen so leicht wñre! Nur Karriere-Machen ist für
Sñngerinnen und Sñnger noch schwerer. Dabei wissen sie alle von
vornherein, welche Partien zu singen sich lohnt, in welchen man auf
jeden Fall Eindruck zu schinden versteht: Partien, die sich
gewissermaßen von selber entfalten, gestalten und singen.

Daneben gibt es natürlich auch reichliche Mengen von Wurzen-Rollen, um
die man sich lieber herumdrückt; ihnen, wenn irgend möglich, aus dem
Wege singt, sie mit Kusshand den Kolleginnen und Kollegen überlñsst.
Sollen sie doch selber sehen, wie sie den Singhals am glücklichsten
aus der von Komponistenhand geknüpften Schlinge ziehen, wenn das
überhaupt möglich ist.

Es ist schon so: Um die Rolle der Irene, der bleichblütigen Schwester
des letzten römischen Tribunen Rienzi, hat sich noch keine Sñngerin je
gerissen. Das wird wohl auch Neu-Bayreuth lernen müssen, wenn es -
gegen Wagners erklñrten Willen - unter Eva oder Nike, den
Großenkelinnen auf Festspiel-Erneuerungskurs, das höchst
kürzungsfreudige musikalische Römerdrama Jung-Richards auf dem Grünen
Hügel vorzeigen will. Es sei denn, Bayreuth sprñnge eine junge
Sñngerin zu Hilfe, wie es 1983 bei der Eröffnungspremiere den Münchner
Opernfestspielen unter Wolfgang Sawallisch durch Cheryl Studer
geschah.

Vielleicht hñtte selbst Wagner seinen "Rienzi" damals schlankweg auf
"Irene" umgetauft. Cheryl Studer jedenfalls stahl ihren Mitsñngern,
trotz René Kollo, die Opern-Show. Damit macht man sich nicht gerade
bei den Kollegen beliebt, aber berühmt kann man darüber schon werden,
und Studer wurde es auf der Stelle. Es war halt eine Zeit, in der das
Feuilleton noch rundum funktionierte.

Von buchstñblich einem Tag auf den andern sah sich Studers Ruhm
etabliert. Sie durfte weltweit singen, was nur immer sie wollte, und
sie wollte viel. Ihr Repertoire schwoll, wie bei kaum einer anderen
Sñngerin, mñchtig in die Breite; und in die Höhe wuchs es, sie selber
überraschend, gleichzeitig auch.

Mit den Koloraturen der Königin der Nacht klopfte sie, zumindest auf
Schallplatten, unternehmungslustig, sogar geradezu vorwitzig an die
geheiligten Pforten von Gruberova-Land. Sie gab sich, wann und wo
irgend möglich, als Mozart-Sñngerin zu erkennen. Studers Stimme schien
sich geradezu selbststñndig gemacht zu haben: Sie sang gewissermaßen
auf dem Ausflug nach künftigen vokalen Abenteuern.

Sie war Salome, Desdemona, Semiramide, Violetta, aber gleichzeitig
auch Lucia, die Heldin von Lammermoor. Sie sang Wagner am laufenden
Band: die Senta im "Fliegenden Hollñnder", Elsa in "Lohengrin",
Elisabeth im "Tannhñuser", die "Wesendonck-Lieder": das ganze lyrische
Fach. Sie griff aus auf das Richard-Strauss-Repertoire: nach der
Chrysothemis in "Elektra" lockte "Ariadne" und natürlich die
Marschallin im "Rosenkavalier". Die Schallplatte riss sich um Studers
Mitarbeit.

Sie sang unter den bedeutendsten Dirigenten: unter Abbado, Sir Georg
Solti, Levine, Gardiner, Sinopoli. Als Partner kamen überhaupt nur
noch die feinsten Kollegen wie Placido Domingo oder Luciano Pavarotti
in Frage. Auf breiter musikalischer Front ging es stetig voran. Die
Leuchtkraft der Stimme, die Natürlichkeit des Empfindens, die
Fñhigkeit, rückentwickelnd aus altbekannten Operngestalten wieder an
ihren Schicksalen beteiligende Menschen zu machen, zeichnete Studers
schier einzigartige Kunst aus.

Die Metropolitan in New York hieß sie willkommen. Sie sang an der
Mailñnder Scala. Berlin gab ihr einen Vertrag. Die Salzburger
Festspiele ließen sich nicht lumpen. Ohne Studer schienen die Bühnen
der Welt mit einem Schlag nackt und bloß.

Was war bloß geschehen, das bald zu beunruhigen begann? Studer hatte
über das ringsum herrschende Kñstchendenken, über die Rñnder der in
immer enger geschnürten Fñchern verwahrten Rollen hinausgesungen. Sie
hatte wieder aufklingen lassen, was im 19. Jahrhundert noch
selbstverstñndlich war, da ein Ludwig Schnorr mit seinen
neunundzwanzig Jahren bereits den Tristan sang, gleichzeitig aber auch
Ottavio im "Don Giovanni", und Lilli Lehmann buchstñblich alles, was
sich von einer Frau in der Sopranlage singen ließ, mit
Selbstverstñndlichkeit, Technik und Gottvertrauen dem Publikum
vortrug. Studer versuchte, es ihr gleich zu tun.

Sie eckte damit an. An allen Ecken und Enden tauchten plötzlich
Beckmesser auf. So etwas wie künstlerisches Mobbing zeigte sich in den
bislang einhellig geheiligten Opernkulissen. Man versuchte, Cheryl
Studer verstummen zu machen. Man annulierte ihre Vertrñge. Man
versuchte, sie in mindere Rollen umzutopfen. Jeder Buhruf vom Olymp,
altgeübter leidiger Brauch, der schon Callas und Tebaldi umklungen
hatte, wurde plötzlich zu Gottes Stimme erklñrt und verklñrt.

Imponierend wiederum: Studer zog vor Gericht. Sie ließ sich diese
Missachtung ihrer Kunst, ihres Könnens nicht bieten. Sie wollte sich
nicht als Schallplatte aus Fleisch und Blut, als volltechnisierte
Singmaschine eingestuft und zwangslñufig als Künstlerin abgewertet
sehen. Sie wollte Frau bleiben dürfen: singender, jeden Abend auf
offener Bühne sich preisgebender Mensch. Man gab ihr Recht.

Das Publikum gab ihr Recht. Studers Rückkehr ins Zentrum des
musikalischen Erfolges vollzog sich in imponierend gelassenen
Schritten. Sie hat, singend, alle Querelen, die man um sie anzettelte,
hinter sich gelassen. Seither singt sie nicht mehr mit dem Rücken
gegen die Wand. Sie hat sich ihre jubilierenden Freiheiten
wiedererobert: nicht nur eine bedeutende Künstlerin, zugleich eine
tapfere Frau.


Name: Niel Rishoi
Date: 04/21/2004 05:59:45 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
"Things got pretty rough at the last Philharmonic concert. A bitter
battle broke out over Liszt's 'Mephisto Waltz.' It was the standees
and a part of the gallery, resolved to give their all, against the
parterre, the mountain against the marsh. On the one side we had
youth, intelligence, idealism, good judgement, enthusiasm and
conviction; on the other dullness, frivolity, debility, ignorance,
arrogance, materialism. Such were the contending forces.

There was a lot of applause, but a lot of hissing, too. Since, as we
all know, these Semitic hissing sounds traditionally served
the 'chosen people' as shibboleth in combat with their neighbors, it
was not hard to determine who it was that so emphatically proclaimed
both their dissent and their identity. Indeed, these 'chosen people'
habitually make a great show of their exquisite taste. They are
always ready to recognize in Beethoven a good composer. And yet there
are those who see nothing heroic in the courage of such convictions.
What, then, can we call courageous? Let it pass. These excellent and
generous souls will surely enrich the National Guard with a doughty
legion of tailors, and thus be of service to the state. You can take
an oath on that.

To take seriously the ludicrous behavior of these worthy parterre
subscribers toward the works of a genius such as Liszt would be like
punishing children's bad manners with the rack. We are not so cruel.
But it is well to look for what it is that causes the public to
behave like an ill-mannered child and to think like a well-groomed
cad. How is it, we ask, that Liszt's compositions are rejected by the
majority of our degenerate public? The answer is made uncommonly easy
for me, since it is contained in the question. But then why, someone
could object, do Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., appeal to this same
degenerate public? The objection is so banal, the answer so obvious,
that any blockhead could handle it easily. But should someone choose
to ask me what I mean by degenerate public, I accept the challenge
gladly, and am ready with the answer: a degenerate public is one that
is content to be the ward of a degenerate press.

It is a public of newspaper readers. That is the source of all other
evils. That is the source of the thoughtlessness, frivolity,
dependence, distraction, insensibility and, above all, the bias
against those works condemned to death by the press. If this were an
ingenuous public, it would not tolerate for another day the shameful
chains it now fastens to itself voluntarily. But the habit of cud-
chewing has already become too delightful to permit the slightest
effort to use one's own teeth. Thus, this public receives its
impression of a work of art not directly, but from the review in the
newspaper, to be had in concrete form for a patent. Go then to the
apothecary, and buy yourselves some nux vomica or some other
purgative if you want to have an impression. The effect remains
essentially the same, and you spare yourselves the price of the
ticket. And so a public, the despicable tool of a despicable press,
will pass judgement on the works of a genius! A sluggardly mob that
enters the concert hall as if it were a toy store, reduces the
noblest possessions of mankind to idle diversions, and then, if that
is not satisfactory, arrogantly turns its back on the work of art and
ceremoniously hisses...fie, fie, and once again fie!!!

Given such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Liszt's
original compositions have excited a lively 'for' and 'against'
whenever they have been played in Vienna. This time the applause from
the standees was still far from constituting a demonstration when a
few hot headed Philistines signalled, stupidly enough, the
shibboleth. That was pouring oil on fire. The applause grew louder,
and rightly so, since it was directed no less at the splendid
accomplishment of the orchestra and its conductor, Hans Richter, than
at the work itself. And did not the wonderful performance of this
Lisztian composition merit the most extravagant praise? What did
Liszt's admirers do to excite the drowsy parterre to a counter-
demonstration? They were simply giving due honor to service
rendered."

Hugo Wolf
Vienna
25 April 1886


Date: 04/20/2004 12:24:50 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Definately not. I grew up in a working class family and neighborhood and feel that opera speaks directly to me. I think that the language barrier is what mostly puts off people because they don't understand what is being sung. 150 years ago opera was the popular art form. It caused that riot in Belgium (La muette) and Verdi's "Va pensiero" was the Italian's unofficial national anthem before they were unufied. Opera is still going strong here in Chicago.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I will listen to Renee sing anything.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No. The classics are eternal. I'm mostly worried about live broadcasts, ie. the MET, Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera


Date: 04/20/2004 06:29:55 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I prefer listening Renée in opera

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
no


Name: C. Chang
Date: 04/20/2004 05:28:59 AM


How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I could say I am still under the spell of Henry James. At present, I
am reading his "The Portrait of a Lady", a nicest book. I won't
comment on it because I haven't finished yet. However, this Jamesian
Leitmotiv - Americans in Europe - led me to reach some conclusions.

In "The Portrait of a Lady", there is a most interesting character
called Henrietta Stackpole, an American patriotic journalist. On
visiting St.Peter's in Rome, she declares that "Michelangelo's dome
suffered by comparison with that of the Capitol at Washington". Miss
Stackpole has this a priori - American things are the best. Of
course, she has her reasons. With this in mind, I was thinking of
Deborah Voigt's performance as Ariadne, which is, as you could read
in my Strauss discography, incredibly boring. Naturally, Miss
Stackpole would take me for a snob and I can imagine her description
of Voigt's voice: "it has the honesty of American spirit, the
amplitude of America's land and the ingenuity of American people".
Since Deborah Voigt's and Renée Fleming's woefully inadequate performances have
been taken as models by many reviewers (whose nationality I prefer
not to reveal), I'll try to propose a group of ideas about this new
myth of the musical world - "THE AMERICAN SOPRANO".

Roland Barthes explains that a myth is a second degree of
signification. We would have an object and a symbol for this object -
a word for example. When we have a myth, we join two objects and they
make a new and original level of signification. For example, red
roses. In the first level of signification, we refer to the kind of
flowers produced of the genus 'Rosa' in the colour red. However, if
it is a guy who sends a girl red roses that would mean he is in love
with her. So we have a second level of signification - red roses + a
guy sending them to a girl = he's in love with her. The second level
has a complete new group of ideas turning around it.

The same thing happens to "American Soprano". Of course, in the first
level of analysis, an American soprano refers to a lyric female
singer whose voice has the highest tessitura among human voices who
was born in the United Stated (or, for that matter, of an American
mother or father...). However, why are we never tempted to refer to
Arleen Augér or Barbara Bonney, for example, primarily as "American
sopranos"? Because, for "American Soprano" we mean something very
different from it.

The myth of the American soprano probably started in the Bing years
in the Met, precisely in the Helen Traubel case. To start with, the
voice must be in the Henrietta Stackpole standard - wide as the
continent and solid as the American way of life. This is the premise
of this myth, but it aims something more ambitious than that. The
American soprano is the affirmative that "our [I mean, theirs] way is
the best way". The idea was that, when Ms. Traubel went to night
clubs to sing standards of the American song, she was "pulling her
hair down" and doing the real thing. In ultimate level, the American
soprano is the main character of what one calls "cross-over".
Generally, she says that - until the age of 18 - she has never heard
of opera or Lieder, that she liked blues and Ella Fitzgerald was her
idol. She also says she's a normal person and music is only her job -
that she has more in herself than just that.

These elements are fundamental to be a 100% American Soprano. When
Jessye Norman affirmed that she was definitely NOT the soprano next
door and that her youth's ideal was Leontyne Price - she lost her
claims to this position. Probably that is why she just debuted in the
temple of the American Soprano - the Metropolitan Opera House - when
she was already famous in the rest of the world. "Why does she fake a
British accent when everybody knows she was born in Georgia?", is the
comment generally applied to her when referred to by some of her
fellow citizens. Another case of desertion is Cheryl Studer. Being
born to a Swiss family, she left her home Michigan when she was 14 to
study in Germany with Hans Hotter et al. She made her name in
Bayreuth and became a national property in Munich. Of course, America
was ready to receive her back. So, an invitation to the Met was
produced and there she was singing Michaela. Magazines were claiming
that she was the new greatest thing - a kind of German repertoire
Maria Callas who had the invincible quality of singing zillions of
roles in all kind of repertoire. Things were great until she made the
crime of crimes - she paid the contract fee in order to leave the
Met's production of La Traviata. In her defense, she said that the
role of Violetta was extremely demanding and musically not rewarding.
Basically, she preferred to save her voice to Sieglinde, the Kaiserin
and Elsa. When I was in the Met for the Ring some 5 years ago, on
mentioning her name, I got as an answer "She thought she could cancel
the sponsors' evenings all the time, until we finally kicked her out -
her voice is not the same anymore". Of course, this was the
beginning of Studer's declining popularity and less and less
recordings with her were produced. Although it has become a
widespread rumour that her voice is over, Studer sang here in Rio
this year [2001] and proved to be in top form and still one of the best (if not the best)
artists to have appeared in the operatic stages in the second half of
XXth century. The Viennese, for example, never doubted that. A
saddest case involved Kathleen Battle, probably the most charming of
light lyric sopranos to appear in her generation. After a childhood
when she and her sisters were forbidden to use the local club
swimming pool and any other kind of public entertainment, Battle had
all the time of the world to dedicate to her studies. She graduated
as a music teacher and, with the support of the world's leading
conductors, she became famous in the whole world. She entered the
select club of the Salzburg Festival artists (the best paid in the
world) and was affectionately called by Herbert von Karajan
as "Kathleen". Of course, being a personal friend of James Levine,
Battle was a diva at the Met. However, the girl who was not allowed
to the swimming pool never "died" inside the worldwide famous
Ms.Battle. So, she commited capital crime no.2 for American Sopranos -
she didn't seem to be grateful to the whole world and decided to
play the cards her way now that she was famous. A campaign similar
to "We are the World" was made in American operatic stages to do away
with her. She was accused of bad temper, whimsical manners and lack
of comradeship (i.e., the dictionary definition to what a "diva" is).
Nevertheless, the girl from Ohio should have noticed that, as much as
the swimming pool, the "diva" club was not allowed to her. SHE had to
behave. Apparently, in the strict Salzburg Festival, where Agnes
Baltsa was dismissed because she decided to go to Generalprobe
without her shoes, nobody complained about Battle. Unfortunately,
Battle had made the Met too much her home. She is an American
soprano, but hasn't been an AMERICAN SOPRANO - so the world went on
without a place for her. Her fans all over the world have to content
with old recordings and to uninspiring Heidi Grant Murphy et al. If
we were speaking Edith Wharton's House of Myrth, it would be trading
Lily Bart for Grace Stepney.

So what is behind the myth of American soprano? Let's go back to
Henrietta Stackpole and her declaration that Michelangelo's Duomo
can't stand the comparison with the Washington's capitol. Opera is of
course an European form of art and, as much as we want to say
it "belongs" to the world, it remains 100% European. As a matter of
fact, we could affirm that of classical musical in a general way.
Even when it is composed by non-European musicians. And, as we know,
Western Culture doesn't hail from New York, NY (although you can find
it in quantities and prices unavailable in the rest of the world),
but from places one calls today dirty and unsafe for trip, such as
Greece and Turkey. Native North- and South- American indians didn't
produce opera. And without entering the discussion of superior and
inferior cultures, the fact is that classical music is for us in this
side of the ocean foreign art. Wagner was not a nice guy in a Norman
Rockwell painting, Handel's prime donne were unbearable shrews and
the Walküren, as much as Amneris' servants or the girls in the
cigarette factory where Carmen works don't speak English (or for that
matter not even Spanish) as native language.

So, when Jessye Norman says she is not the soprano next door, she is
affirming that, if you are born in Atlanta, Honolulu, Lima, Buenos
Aires or Rio de Janeiro, you don't have the time to be nice to your
neighbours and make speeches and cut ribbons in the opening of
supermarkets. One has hundreds of years of culture to absorb. So, one
has not only to understand, but to MASTER foreign languages, one has
to read a lot, listen a lot and to be humble enough to absorb
everything that surrounds the creation of those masterpieces the
audiences all around the world are interested about. The "Henrietta
Stackpole" attitude only leads to a complete impermeability.
Nevetheless, one wants to make of classical music something it is not
and has Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin re-inventing Bach. If we remember
that Keith Jarrett has a career as a jazz pianist and composer and,
when he decided to play Bach, he actually studied the harpsichord and
played BACH - one has the hint of what a sensible attitude is.

It is not strange that Brazil doesn't suffer the same problem. Here,
classical music is FOREIGN music as much as Japanese koto music is.
No-one whistles La Donna è Mobile in the shower or knows that there
is only ONE Valkyrie and ONE Nibelung in the title of Wagner's
operas. However, that doesn't mean that nobody cares for music. The
Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro had record sale of tickets this
year. What doesn't happen here is the search for a "next door"
attitude. Classical music is seen as a product for an elite and when
someone, whichever class he or she belongs to, decides that being a
tenor or a soprano is the career he or she wants to follow, he or she
feels that he or she has an intimate connection with a foreign
culture and won't loose time dedicating to perform samba, jazz etc.
If one wants to sing jazz, one sings jazz. If one wants to be a
soprano, one goes to a long series of studies in order to acquire all
the necessary information to perform in operatic stages. For
instance, Brazilian soprano Eliane Coelho. As soon as she decided
that singing opera was her life, she moved to Germany, where she
followed her studies and has been living in Vienna all her life. She
is a Kammersängerin and a favourite with the musicians of the Vienna
State Opera. When I was in Vienna three or four years ago, there was
a big picture of her in the right façade of the threatre, next to the
ones of Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. She appears in Brazil once
or twice a year and sings Strauss, Verdi and Puccini. She doesn't
appear in charity events, sings bossa nova or gives interviews saying
she only listen to João Gilberto at her house. Nobody expects her to
do that. Brazilian audiences are thankful for her appearances here
and for doing what she does best - being an operatic diva. When she
cancelled her Berg/R.Strauss/Wolf recital, we were very sad, because
it is so rare for us to attend such an occasion. Nobody expected her
to take a chair and a guitar and sing "The Girl from Ipanema", so
that we could say "Ah, she's a true Brazilian soprano". She will be
forever in Rio's music lovers' hearts for the wonderful performance
of Strauss' Four Last Songs in the Sala Cecília Meirelles. I was in
the third row that evening and couldn't help thinking how lovely it
was that a girl from Rio had gone to Germany and dived so deep in
German culture in order to produce such legitimate piece of
Straussian singing. And yet there was the Brazilian in her - she
doesn't have to stress that, because she IS so.

In conclusion, the myth of the American Soprano just does a bad
service to American sopranos. The world's stages have been graced by
the most thoroughly talented singers who were born in the USA and we
can add to the distinguished examples of Augér, Bonney, Norman,
Battle and many others the beautiful performances offered today by
Cheryl Studer, Deborah Polaski, Laura Aikin and (why not a mezzo?)
Susan Graham. Those are artists who seriously, little by little, have
been acquiring or already acquired the necessary knowledge - musical,
stylistic, linguistic - to master their repertoires and deserve all
the praises for that. It just makes me worry when you have a media
product such as Ms.Fleming doing things her way when she clearly
hasn't learned to do the right way first. It would be a pleasure to
see her nice voice singing from Donizetti to Strauss when she has
mastered all the necessary information to do so. Renata Scotto and Cheryl Studer took
roughly twice the time to do it and they didn't spend their youth days
crooning in students' night clubs.


Name: Michael Posa
Profession: opera perfomance college student
Date: 04/20/2004 02:45:09 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, social standing has nothing to do with a person having the ability to have an appreciation or love for this art form.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee obviously owns, if not the best, one of the best female instruments ever, i would love her singing the role of Rusalka and have the same love if she's singing popular music. The only reason some people might frown upon her singing popular music,is that pop music is associated with singers who have awefully bad and incorrect vocal technique. That wont be the case for this out of this world artist, with the correct fundamentals of vocal production, give her Shubert's Gretchen Am Spinnrade and she'll sound amazing, give her a Celine dion Ballad and i bet she'd sound fifty million times better than what Celine can ever make, heck give her "mary had a little lamb" and it would be priceless.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I dont's think so, but yes this art form is less appreciated these days with the growing attention to popular mainstram culture, a lot of people these days settle for the things that are obvious but mediocre, and opera is obviously not in the "obvious" category. But i don't think it's an endangered artform, there's always gonna be young soprano who would listen to her first recording of "O mio babbino caro" and aspire to be an opera diva, or a young tenor who hears Pavarotti's "che gelida manina" or "Nessun Dorma" and debut as prince calaf in "Turantdot", there's also going to be a young opera lover, who gets chills everytime he listens to "The Pearl fishers". I think it's all about getting opera out there again and getting the appreciation and love for this art,from people who don't have the means to be exposed to it, but endangered? NO i dont think so!


Name: MRA
Profession: shipping clerk
Date: 04/20/2004 12:36:18 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. Anyone is allowed to listen or try to become a performer.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

The idea is not very exciting at all.
Celtic/new age, or slow jazz is all I can come up with.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Minneapolis/St. Paul has TWO world class orchestras.
It is a big world so a small percentage listening is still a great many people. I would be worried about mimes first!


Name: Shannon Smith
Profession: PhD Student
Date: 04/19/2004 09:39:23 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, definitely not. Considering the historical roots of opera and its popularity as entertainment in previous centuries, one can only attribute the view of opera as "elitist" to today's cultural climate. I think that some fans are elitist, not the art form itself. Anything can become elitist if the group enjoying it wants it to be (Have you ever attempted to engage in a discussion with a serious soccer fan?). I think any artist or fair connoisseur of classical/opera needs to fight for its accessibility, and against the tendency to make certain forms of music exclusive, whether that be through performance, or through relaying your love of music to others via discussion, etc. I think that the days of the classical music snob should be numbered. Nothing turns off a possible opera fan more than someone who obsesses over the inherent "value" of opera vs. less "valuable" music forms (i.e. rock music). Someone who devalues opera frustrates me just as much as someone who devalues the Rolling Stones or the Gorillaz. Can these groups be judged against the same criteria as opera in terms of certain "generic" conventions? No. Can these groups be evaluated for the ideas they engage with, the messages they communicate and how effectively they do that? Yes. So my long-winded answer (cf. my "profession" :o) )is no, but I do believe that barriers are in place that need to be taken down in order to stimulate appreciation and interest.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love Renee's renditions of Ellington that I've heard. I've been waiting what seems like forever for her to do a jazz album. I heard her scat sing in an encore performance of "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" at Roy Thompson Hall (Toronto) a few years ago. I want to hear more! The technique is surprisingly similar and that fascinates me.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
As long as there are people who love it, truly love it, no. As long as there are artists that are willing to work toward generating inclusivity in their fan-base I think opera is not in danger. This responsibility should also fall on the shoulders of the listeners as well.


Name: R.C.
Date: 04/19/2004 05:35:10 AM


How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Considering the Grand Meltdown (not lacking the "Grand Manner" you so
prefer – or do you?) of new opera recordings (on Compact Disc alone?)
from the Universal Classics family of labels (DGG, DECCA,
Philips)....and now from Sony and EMI Classics too....let
us take a Long and Hard (as you like it) look at the following
repertorium ---

* Title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, rec 8/90, London SO,
Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Hanna Glawari in Lehar's Lustige Witwe, rec 1/94, Vienna PO,
Gardiner, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 1-2/94, Vienna PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 5/91, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Rossini's Semiramide, rec 7/92, London SO, Marin,
Lucifer Classics

* Florinda in Schubert's Fierrabras, rec 5/88, Chamber Orch of
Europe, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in R. Strauss' Salome, rec 12/90, Deutsche Oper Berlin,
Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, rec 6/93, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto Act III, rec 9/91, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, rec 5/93, Opéra Bastille, Chung,
Lucifer Classics

* Violetta in Verdi's Traviata, rec 1/91, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '88, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '89, Bayreuth, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Senta in Wagner's fliegende Hollñnder, rec 1/91, Deutsche Oper
Berlin, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gutrune in Wagner's Götterdñmmerung, rec 5/89, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Floyd's Susannah, rec 3/94, Opéra de Lyon, Nagano,
Lucifer Classics

* Marguerite in Gounod's Faust, rec 2/91, Toulouse, Plasson, Lucifer
Classics

* Salomé in Massenet's Hérodiade, rec 11-12/94, Toulouse, Plasson,
Lucifer Classics

* Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, rec 9/90, Vienna PO, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Konstanze in Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail, rec 4/91, Vienna
Symphony, Weil, Lucifer Classics

* Queen of the Night in Mozart's Zauberflöte, rec 7/89, ASMF,
Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* Giulietta in Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann, rec 87/88/89, Dresden
Staatskapelle, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Matilde in Rossini's Guglielmo Tell, rec 12/88, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Madama Cortese in Rossini's Viaggio a Reims, rec 10/92, Berlin PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Spohr's Jessonda, rec '84, ORF Orchestra, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 1/90, Bavarian RSO,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 6/89, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec 2-12/87, Bavarian
RSO, Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec '92, Vienna PO,
Solti, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Verdi's Aida, rec 6/94, Covent Garden, Downes,
Lucifer Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6-7/89, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6/90, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Elena in Verdi's Vespri Siciliani, rec 12/89-1/90, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Drolla in Wagner's Die Feen, rec 7/83, Bavarian RSO, Sawallisch,
Lucifer Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec 6/90, Bayreuth, Schneider, Lucifer
Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec '90, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Eva in Wagner's Meistersinger, rec 4/93, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Irene in Wagner's Rienzi, rec 7/83, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Ortlinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 8/81, Dresden Staatskapelle,
Janowski, Lucifer Classics

* Sieglinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 2-3/88, Bavarian RSO, Haitink,
Lucifer Classics

* Zemlinsky's Der Geburtstagder Infantin, rec 83, Berlin RSO,
Albrecht, Lucifer Classics

* Coloratura Arias by Bellini (Sonnambula/Norma), Verdi
(Traviata/Trovatore), Donizetti (Lucia/Lucrezia Borgia), Rossini
(Barbiere/Semiramide), rec 4/89, Munich RSO, Ferro, Lucifer Classics

* Mozart Arias
(Entführung/Zauberflöte/Idomeneo/Nozze/Giovanni/Clemenza/Cosi), rec
9/89, ASMF, Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder/Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder/Isolde's
Liebestod, rec 1/93, Dresden Staatskapelle, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Isolde's Liebestod, rec 1/88, Bavarian RSO, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Wagner Gala (Tannhñuser/Lohengrin/Meistersinger/Walküre), rec
12/93, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* First Europakonzert - in Prague (Mozart: "Non mi dir"/"Ch'io mi
scordi di te-Non temer amato bene"), rec 5/91, Berlin PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Covent Garden Gala (Otello/Traviata/Fledermaus), rec 7/88, Covent
Garden, Barker, Lucifer Classics

* Sacred Works
(Bach/Schubert/Mendelssohn/Handel/Mozart/Gounod/Faure/Poulenc/Bernstei
n/Bruch), rec 3/91, London SO, Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Samuel Barber Songs, rec 9/92, Browning (R.I.P.), Emerson String
Quartet, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, rec 8/91, Vienna PO, Levine, Lucifer
Classics

* Beethoven in Berlin (Ah! Perfido/Choral Fantasy/Egmont), rec 12/91,
Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Brahms' German Requiem, rec 10/92, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Schubert Lieder, rec 1/90, Gage, Lucifer Classics

* Salzburg Recital (R. Strauss/Schubert/Debussy), rec 8/92, Gage,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Klagende Lied, rec 11/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 2, rec 11/92, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 11-12/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 1/94, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 6/87, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 11/91, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, rec 4/89, Philadelphia Orchestra, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Bruckner's Mass in F Min/Mozart's Vespers, rec 3/77, MIT Choral
Society, Oliver, Lucifer Classics

* Donizetti's Requiem, rec 1/84, Bamberg SO, Gómez-Martínez, Lucifer
Classics

* von Schweinitz's Messe Op. 21, rec 7/84, RSO Berlin, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss Choral Works, rec 9/84, RIAS Kammerchor, Gronostay,
Creed, Lucifer Classics


"L-A Ú-L-T-I-M-A..........que ríe, ríe mejor."


Bravissima CHERYL STUDER, verlorene Tochter. Very beautifully and
exquisitely done. A most wonderful, exemplary, and unforgettable
legacy, a legacy of e-x-c-e-p-t-i-o-n-a-l q-u-a-l-i-t-y and d-i-
s-t-i-n-c-t-i-o-n. Thank you for u-n-c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-i-n-g
Artistry of u-n-c-o-m-m-o-n i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-c-e and i-n-s-t-i-
n-c-t --- the work of a consummate being. Thank you. Thank you for
Dedication, Seriousness, and Integrity. Thank you for remaining True
to your self, to the artform (on life-support as it is...and counting
down), and to m-u-s-i-c. Good Music. Thank you for a Universe of
Sound and Texture and Expression and Communication a-l-l o-f
y-o-u-r o-w-n. Thank you for g-e-n-e-r-o-s-i-t-y. Thank you for
H-i-g-h I-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l-i-t-y. And (to boot) individuality within
the bondage of and respect for the T-r-a-d-i-t-i-o-n.

Thank You.

And thank you too, Universal, EMI and Sony, for having had the
foreskin to recognize and capture genius (we know, we know – but
worse has been written and said about the artist) in our midst while
the going was good (now that these dinosaurs' [delusional] populist
causes, causes lately so palatable to the Anglo/Judeo-centric and
their Axes-[oh irony!]-Of-Love, have caused them to
trim....ouch....their future....for that squeaky clean look and
sound....and potent[ial] self-extinction).

"The American soprano Cheryl Studer began at a very young age studying
the piano and the viola. At the age of twelve, after listening to the
album "La Callas Ó Paris", she decided that she wanted to be an opera
singer and started voice lessons in her hometown with Mrs. Gwendolyn
Pike. She spent her senior high school years at Interlochen Arts
Academy, before studying for one year at Oberlin Conservatory, near
Cleveland, Ohio. She then moved with her family to Tennessee, where
she continued her studies at the University of Tennessee at
Knoxville. Her promising talent caught Leonard Bernstein's attention
and he offered her full scholarships to study for three consecutive
summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1975 to 1977),
where she studied with Phyllis Curtin. She debuted at Tanglewood in
1976 in Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Boston Symphony
Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, who invited her for a series of concerts
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall during the 1978-
1979 season.

In the summer of 1979, she went to the Schubert Institute in Baden
bei Wien, Austria, where she attended a course for foreign students
on the art of the German Lied. Among her teachers at that summer
institute were Irmgard Seefried, Brigitte Fassbaender and Hans
Hotter. The great baritone persuaded Cheryl Studer to stay in Europe
for the year and study with him at the Hochschule für Musik und
darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

After a year in Vienna, and at Hans Hotter's urging, Cheryl Studer
auditioned for Wolfgang Sawallisch who hired her as a permanent
member of the Bavarian State Opera, where she spent two consecutive
seasons. At the end of the 1981-1982 season, she left the Munich
ensemble to join the Staatstheater Darmstadt for two seasons, before
going to Berlin to be part of the Deutsche Oper ensemble for the 1984-
195 and 1985-1986 seasons.

She sang her first big role (Violetta) as a guest artist at the
Staatstheater Braunschweig in the spring of 1983. In the summer of
that same year, the Bayerische Staatsoper called her to their Summer
Festival to sing Irene (Rienzi) and Drola (Die Feen), under Maestro
Sawallisch. She made her North American opera debut in the role of
Micaela (Carmen) in 1984 for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She caught
the world's attention for the first time at the 1985 Bayreuth
Festival, when the sang Elisabeth (Tannhñuser) under Giuseppe
Sinopoli. Since then, she has sung in the most prestigious houses in
the world: Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (debut in 1986 in Das
Rheingold as Freia), Opéra de Paris (debut the same year in Die
Zauberflöte as Pamina), San Francisco Opera (debut in Die
Meistersinger as Eva, also in 1986), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
(debut in 1987 in Tannhñuser as Elisabeth), La Scala (operatic debut
in Don Giovanni as Donna Anna in 1987), New York Metropolitan Opera
(debut in 1988 in Carmen as Micaela), Vienna State Opera (debut in
Elektra as Chrysothemis in 1989). She debuted at the Salzburg Summer
Festival that same year and in the same role.

Her repertoire reveals a soprano of exceptional versatility, perhaps
not encountered since the great Lilly Lehmann: from Mozart's Queen of
the Night, Donna Anna and Countess Almaviva, to Wagner's Sieglinde,
Elisabeth and Elsa, from Rossini's Mathilde and Semiramide to
Donizetti's Lucia, from Verdi's Odabella and Violetta to Gounod's
Marguerite and the great heroines of Richard Strauss, Cheryl Studer's
repertoire encompasses more than 70 roles.

In addition to her appearances in the most renowned opera houses of
the world, Cheryl Studer has never forgotten her first love: the
Lied. Although she has been singing Lieder since her early years, she
made her first big European tour in 1992; ever since, she has been
giving Lieder recitals in many European cities, as well as in the USA
and the Far East. Although an acclaimed interpreter of the great
Germanic Lieder composers (in particular Schubert, Brahms, Mahler,
Strauss and Hugo Wolf), she also loves Debussy's Ariettes oubliées
and Samuel Barber's songs.

Cheryl Studer also appears regularly as a concert soloist with the
world's most famous orchestras: the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin
Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the London Symphony, the
Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Boston Symphony,
the Philadelphia Orchestra, to name but a few. Her concert repertoire
includes Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Mozart's concert arias, Verdi's
Requiem, Wagner's Wesendonk-Lieder and Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder,
as well as other orchestral Lieder.

For her third summer's work as a Vocal Fellow of the Berkshire Music
Center at Tanglewood, Cheryl Studer won the 1977 High
Fidelity/Musical America Prize. The following year, she competed in
the Metropolitan Opera Auditions Finals and won the Mrs. Frederick A.
Stoughton Award. In 1979, she won the Franz-Schubert-Institut-Preis
for excellence in Lied interpretation. She received the Grand Prix du
Disque - Prix Maria Callas, in 1989. Cheryl Studer was particularly
honoured to be chosen by an international jury as the first recipient
of the International Classical Music Award in 1993 (London) in the
category Best Female Singer of the Year; in the same year, she also
received the Wilhelm Furtwñngler Prize. One year later, she was
chosen as Musical America's Vocalist of the Year (1994).

A great many recordings featuring Cheryl Studer have also received
numerous prizes, awards and distinctions. Among others: Tannhñuser
(Elisabeth - DG - G. Sinopoli): Gran Premio del disco Ritmo, Orphée
d'Or, CD Compact, Diapason d'Or; Attila (Odabella - EMI - R. Muti):
Diapason d'Or, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, L'Opera-CittÓ di
Mondovì, Musica Viva; Salome (Salome - DG - G. Sinopoli): Stella
d'Argento, Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du
disque, Edison Award, Orphée d'Or; Faust (Marguerite - EMI - M.
Plasson): Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, Choc du Monde de la
Musique, FFFF de Télérama, Orphée d'Or de l'Académie du disque
lyrique, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle
Académie du disque, Classic CD 5-Star Award; Lohengrin (Elsa - DG -
C. Abbado): FFFF de Télérama, 10 de Répertoirte, Timbre de platine
d'Opéra international, Outstanding from BBC Music Magazine; Samuel
Barber's Complete Songs (With Thomas Hampson - DG - John Browning,
piano): Caecilia Prijs, Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, First Cannes
Classical Awards, Vocal Recital, XIX/XX centuries category, Hilary
Finch's Record of the Year (BBC Music Magazine), Gramophone Awards,
Solo Vocal category; Susannah (Title role - Virgin Classics - K.
Nagano): Grammy Award; Hérodiade (Salomé - EMI - M. Plasson): Choc du
Monde de la Musique, Diapason d'Or."


Name: Alexandra Leigh
Profession: Student
Date: 04/19/2004 02:26:38 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes, absolutely. I think that everyone can enjoy it, but few people can truly appreciate it, and even fewer have the talent and diligence to sing it.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

With a classically trained voice such as Renee's, I feel that it might be difficult to make that switch. Obviously, she would sound beautiful singing anything, but the strong points of her show tonight were the classical pieces, whereas maybe one of the weaker links was a more popular song.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
It's hard to say. Classical music and Opera will always be around, because, as the name implies, they are classics. With shorter attention spans today, it's difficult to know whether younger generations could sit still through songs with unfamiliar words and simple arrangements with just a few instruments. I myself am a high school student, and while I had never seen a Classical voice performance (and wasn't sure what to expect) I thought that it was amazing, beyond what I could have imagined.


Name: Susie Wagner
Profession: business owner
Date: 04/19/2004 01:30:03 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, because I feel Opera/Classical music, as I feel all music does, belongs to the masses. The trick is in getting classical/opera to those masses.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Her voice is so beautiful that I feel she sounds awesome no matter what the venue

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
no, because those of us who appreciate classical music and opera, etc. encourage people to "listen, and give it a chance to grow on you" And those of us with children, hopefully encourage them to try and appreciate music in all its forms.


Date: 04/19/2004 12:11:13 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all. Music, like all art, is a matter of personal taste. And as Peter Shickele quotes Count Basie, "If it sounds good, it IS good." What's elitist about that? What's more, first generation immigrants of all classes and incomes often loved opera. I think the charge of elitism came from classical music venues being sponsored largely by the wealthy, many of whom were, themselves, elitist. Many of them may still be elitist, but the music is now too much in the open--on records, tapes, CDs, radio and television--to be hoarded by such people.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love it. As a musician, Ms. Fleming should sing what she likes. It's her voice and her art. See the Count Basie quote.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I'm not certain. My gut reaction is that, as the global economy changes, classical music venues are going to have to fight harder for their share of the market, and that they are likely to begin dying out. I think this has been going on--in this country anyway--for decades. But on the other hand, as long as some people continue to enjoy classical music and/or opera, the arts will survive.


Date: 04/18/2004 10:50:16 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, it's music for the people. All the people. I believe if children are exposed to this music at an early age they will love it all their lives. Every heart needs to be lifted by beautiful music.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I was priviledged to see Ms. Fleming's concert this afternoon at Symphony Center here in Chicago (4/18/04). I liked her performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." She brought a fresh perspective to a very familiar piece. It added to an already rich program.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I spend a lot of time reading articles on the Web and I have read so many that say these are indeed endangered art forms. Again, proper education of our young people will instill a love for them. Unfortunately television, which first exposed me to opera with "Amahl and the Night Visitors" way back in the 1950s, has become obsessed with instant ratings and instant profits. If only one could see sixty minutes of fine music once a week on prime time TV. Wouldn't that be sweet?


Name: James P Dillon
Profession: Firefighter/paramedic (recent retirement
Date: 04/18/2004 05:56:23 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Absolutely not! Food for the soul, perhaps..

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Ms. Fleming can, and should sing what does it for her. As evidenced by her Chicago recital, her fans here don't want her to leave! Classical/ popular.. how about some jazz.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I , personally attend our Lyric here, and feel it is quite healthy. Love classical violin/ piano, and of course America's soporano.. There are cycles in all, and perhaps these art forms are suffering from huge costs and such, as in professiional sports...and how media is evolving.


Name: R.C.
Date: 04/18/2004 05:46:09 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
And while we are at it, damn it, make that a CLOGGED prostitute. Do you understand?


Name: R.C.
Date: 04/18/2004 05:33:08 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Too much time on my hands or not, damn it, it's better, much better, to sound like a drain than a prostitute. You know what I mean.


Date: 04/18/2004 02:17:15 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Mr Cardinalli.....you have far too much time on your hands.I'm terribly sorry but Studer sings like a drain.


Name: Charles E. Bryan
Profession: retired CPA & classical music enthusiast
Date: 04/18/2004 07:34:50 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes, but i LOVE it

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think renee should sing "esoteric" things and record popular, i.e. cabaret-style singing

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
NO


Name: Jean Esslemont
Profession: Retired - Ex. Opera Stage Manager
Date: 04/17/2004 04:16:42 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No I do not think so

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee has such a vast range in Opera,Classical Music plus
Popular Music and Jazz. I feel very happy to hear her singing Popular Music.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No I don't think Classical Music is an endangered art form
Many Operas are still very popular and Renee has performed
many wonderful productions in the last few years -particularly Rusalka in Paris and London; A Streetcar named
Desire and La Traviata in Houston - all of which performances I attended and enjoyed immensely.


Name: Robert Cardinalli
Date: 04/17/2004 05:57:49 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
A resounding yes.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Speaking of Maria Callas, guess who has won the Callas prize? Not to mention the Furtwaengler prize?

Considering the Grand Meltdown (not lacking the "Grand Manner" you so
prefer – or do you?) of new opera recordings (on Compact Disc alone?)
from the Universal Classics family of labels (DGG, DECCA,
Philips)....and now from Sony and EMI Classics too....let
us take a Long and Hard (as you like it) look at the following
repertorium ---

* Title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, rec 8/90, London SO,
Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Hanna Glawari in Lehar's Lustige Witwe, rec 1/94, Vienna PO,
Gardiner, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 1-2/94, Vienna PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Countess in Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, rec 5/91, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Rossini's Semiramide, rec 7/92, London SO, Marin,
Lucifer Classics

* Florinda in Schubert's Fierrabras, rec 5/88, Chamber Orch of
Europe, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in R. Strauss' Salome, rec 12/90, Deutsche Oper Berlin,
Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, rec 6/93, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto Act III, rec 9/91, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, rec 5/93, Opéra Bastille, Chung,
Lucifer Classics

* Violetta in Verdi's Traviata, rec 1/91, Metropolitan Opera, Levine,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '88, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhñuser, rec '89, Bayreuth, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Senta in Wagner's fliegende Hollñnder, rec 1/91, Deutsche Oper
Berlin, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Gutrune in Wagner's Götterdñmmerung, rec 5/89, Metropolitan Opera,
Levine, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Floyd's Susannah, rec 3/94, Opéra de Lyon, Nagano,
Lucifer Classics

* Marguerite in Gounod's Faust, rec 2/91, Toulouse, Plasson, Lucifer
Classics

* Salomé in Massenet's Hérodiade, rec 11-12/94, Toulouse, Plasson,
Lucifer Classics

* Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, rec 9/90, Vienna PO, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Konstanze in Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail, rec 4/91, Vienna
Symphony, Weil, Lucifer Classics

* Queen of the Night in Mozart's Zauberflöte, rec 7/89, ASMF,
Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* Giulietta in Offenbach's Contes d'Hoffmann, rec 87/88/89, Dresden
Staatskapelle, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Matilde in Rossini's Guglielmo Tell, rec 12/88, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Madama Cortese in Rossini's Viaggio a Reims, rec 10/92, Berlin PO,
Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Spohr's Jessonda, rec '84, ORF Orchestra, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 1/90, Bavarian RSO,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Chrysothemis in R. Strauss' Elektra, rec 6/89, Vienna PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec 2-12/87, Bavarian
RSO, Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Empress in R. Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, rec '92, Vienna PO,
Solti, Lucifer Classics

* Title role in Verdi's Aida, rec 6/94, Covent Garden, Downes,
Lucifer Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6-7/89, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Odabella in Verdi's Attila, rec 6/90, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer
Classics

* Elena in Verdi's Vespri Siciliani, rec 12/89-1/90, La Scala, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Drolla in Wagner's Die Feen, rec 7/83, Bavarian RSO, Sawallisch,
Lucifer Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec 6/90, Bayreuth, Schneider, Lucifer
Classics

* Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin, rec '90, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Eva in Wagner's Meistersinger, rec 4/93, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Irene in Wagner's Rienzi, rec 7/83, Bavarian State Opera,
Sawallisch, Lucifer Classics

* Ortlinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 8/81, Dresden Staatskapelle,
Janowski, Lucifer Classics

* Sieglinde in Wagner's Walküre, rec 2-3/88, Bavarian RSO, Haitink,
Lucifer Classics

* Zemlinsky's Der Geburtstagder Infantin, rec 83, Berlin RSO,
Albrecht, Lucifer Classics

* Coloratura Arias by Bellini (Sonnambula/Norma), Verdi
(Traviata/Trovatore), Donizetti (Lucia/Lucrezia Borgia), Rossini
(Barbiere/Semiramide), rec 4/89, Munich RSO, Ferro, Lucifer Classics

* Mozart Arias
(Entführung/Zauberflöte/Idomeneo/Nozze/Giovanni/Clemenza/Cosi), rec
9/89, ASMF, Marriner, Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder/Wagner's Wesendonck-Lieder/Isolde's
Liebestod, rec 1/93, Dresden Staatskapelle, Sinopoli, Lucifer Classics

* Isolde's Liebestod, rec 1/88, Bavarian RSO, Tate, Lucifer Classics

* Wagner Gala (Tannhñuser/Lohengrin/Meistersinger/Walküre), rec
12/93, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* First Europakonzert - in Prague (Mozart: "Non mi dir"/"Ch'io mi
scordi di te-Non temer amato bene"), rec 5/91, Berlin PO, Abbado,
Lucifer Classics

* Covent Garden Gala (Otello/Traviata/Fledermaus), rec 7/88, Covent
Garden, Barker, Lucifer Classics

* Sacred Works
(Bach/Schubert/Mendelssohn/Handel/Mozart/Gounod/Faure/Poulenc/Bernstei
n/Bruch), rec 3/91, London SO, Marin, Lucifer Classics

* Samuel Barber Songs, rec 9/92, Browning (R.I.P.), Emerson String
Quartet, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, rec 8/91, Vienna PO, Levine, Lucifer
Classics

* Beethoven in Berlin (Ah! Perfido/Choral Fantasy/Egmont), rec 12/91,
Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Brahms' German Requiem, rec 10/92, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Schubert Lieder, rec 1/90, Gage, Lucifer Classics

* Salzburg Recital (R. Strauss/Schubert/Debussy), rec 8/92, Gage,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Klagende Lied, rec 11/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 2, rec 11/92, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 11-12/90, Philharmonia, Sinopoli,
Lucifer Classics

* Mahler's Symphony No. 8, rec 1/94, Berlin PO, Abbado, Lucifer
Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 6/87, La Scala, Muti, Lucifer Classics

* Verdi's Requiem, rec 11/91, Vienna PO, Abbado, Lucifer Classics

* Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, rec 4/89, Philadelphia Orchestra, Muti,
Lucifer Classics

* Bruckner's Mass in F Min/Mozart's Vespers, rec 3/77, MIT Choral
Society, Oliver, Lucifer Classics

* Donizetti's Requiem, rec 1/84, Bamberg SO, Gómez-Martínez, Lucifer
Classics

* von Schweinitz's Messe Op. 21, rec 7/84, RSO Berlin, Albrecht,
Lucifer Classics

* R. Strauss Choral Works, rec 9/84, RIAS Kammerchor, Gronostay,
Creed, Lucifer Classics


"L-A Ú-L-T-I-M-A..........que ríe, ríe mejor."


Bravissima Cheryl Studer, verlorene Tochter. Very beautifully and
exquisitely done. A most wonderful, exemplary, and unforgettable
legacy, a legacy of e-x-c-e-p-t-i-o-n-a-l q-u-a-l-i-t-y and d-i-
s-t-i-n-c-t-i-o-n. Thank you for u-n-c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-i-n-g
Artistry of u-n-c-o-m-m-o-n i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-c-e and i-n-s-t-i-
n-c-t --- the work of a consummate being. Thank you. Thank you for
Dedication, Seriousness, and Integrity. Thank you for remaining True
to your self, to the artform (on life-support as it is...and counting
down), and to m-u-s-i-c. Good Music. Thank you for a Universe of
Sound and Texture and Expression and Communication a-l-l o-f
y-o-u-r o-w-n. Thank you for g-e-n-e-r-o-s-i-t-y. Thank you for
H-i-g-h I-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l-i-t-y. And (to boot) individuality within
the bondage of and respect for the T-r-a-d-i-t-i-o-n.

Thank You.

And thank you too, Universal, EMI and Sony, for having had the
foreskin to recognize and capture genius (we know, we know – but
worse has been written and said about the artist) in our midst while
the going was good (now that these dinosaurs' [delusional] populist
causes, causes lately so palatable to the Anglo/Judeo-centric and
their Axes-[oh irony!]-Of-Love, have caused them to
trim....ouch....their future....for that squeaky clean look and
sound....and potent[ial] self-extinction).

"The American soprano Cheryl Studer began at a very young age studying
the piano and the viola. At the age of twelve, after listening to the
album "La Callas Ó Paris", she decided that she wanted to be an opera
singer and started voice lessons in her hometown with Mrs. Gwendolyn
Pike. She spent her senior high school years at Interlochen Arts
Academy, before studying for one year at Oberlin Conservatory, near
Cleveland, Ohio. She then moved with her family to Tennessee, where
she continued her studies at the University of Tennessee at
Knoxville. Her promising talent caught Leonard Bernstein's attention
and he offered her full scholarships to study for three consecutive
summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1975 to 1977),
where she studied with Phyllis Curtin. She debuted at Tanglewood in
1976 in Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Boston Symphony
Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, who invited her for a series of concerts
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall during the 1978-
1979 season.

In the summer of 1979, she went to the Schubert Institute in Baden
bei Wien, Austria, where she attended a course for foreign students
on the art of the German Lied. Among her teachers at that summer
institute were Irmgard Seefried, Brigitte Fassbaender and Hans
Hotter. The great baritone persuaded Cheryl Studer to stay in Europe
for the year and study with him at the Hochschule für Musik und
darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

After a year in Vienna, and at Hans Hotter's urging, Cheryl Studer
auditioned for Wolfgang Sawallisch who hired her as a permanent
member of the Bavarian State Opera, where she spent two consecutive
seasons. At the end of the 1981-1982 season, she left the Munich
ensemble to join the Staatstheater Darmstadt for two seasons, before
going to Berlin to be part of the Deutsche Oper ensemble for the 1984-
195 and 1985-1986 seasons.

She sang her first big role (Violetta) as a guest artist at the
Staatstheater Braunschweig in the spring of 1983. In the summer of
that same year, the Bayerische Staatsoper called her to their Summer
Festival to sing Irene (Rienzi) and Drola (Die Feen), under Maestro
Sawallisch. She made her North American opera debut in the role of
Micaela (Carmen) in 1984 for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She caught
the world's attention for the first time at the 1985 Bayreuth
Festival, when the sang Elisabeth (Tannhñuser) under Giuseppe
Sinopoli. Since then, she has sung in the most prestigious houses in
the world: Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (debut in 1986 in Das
Rheingold as Freia), Opéra de Paris (debut the same year in Die
Zauberflöte as Pamina), San Francisco Opera (debut in Die
Meistersinger as Eva, also in 1986), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
(debut in 1987 in Tannhñuser as Elisabeth), La Scala (operatic debut
in Don Giovanni as Donna Anna in 1987), New York Metropolitan Opera
(debut in 1988 in Carmen as Micaela), Vienna State Opera (debut in
Elektra as Chrysothemis in 1989). She debuted at the Salzburg Summer
Festival that same year and in the same role.

Her repertoire reveals a soprano of exceptional versatility, perhaps
not encountered since the great Lilly Lehmann: from Mozart's Queen of
the Night, Donna Anna and Countess Almaviva, to Wagner's Sieglinde,
Elisabeth and Elsa, from Rossini's Mathilde and Semiramide to
Donizetti's Lucia, from Verdi's Odabella and Violetta to Gounod's
Marguerite and the great heroines of Richard Strauss, Cheryl Studer's
repertoire encompasses more than 70 roles.

In addition to her appearances in the most renowned opera houses of
the world, Cheryl Studer has never forgotten her first love: the
Lied. Although she has been singing Lieder since her early years, she
made her first big European tour in 1992; ever since, she has been
giving Lieder recitals in many European cities, as well as in the USA
and the Far East. Although an acclaimed interpreter of the great
Germanic Lieder composers (in particular Schubert, Brahms, Mahler,
Strauss and Hugo Wolf), she also loves Debussy's Ariettes oubliées
and Samuel Barber's songs.

Cheryl Studer also appears regularly as a concert soloist with the
world's most famous orchestras: the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin
Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the London Symphony, the
Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Boston Symphony,
the Philadelphia Orchestra, to name but a few. Her concert repertoire
includes Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Mozart's concert arias, Verdi's
Requiem, Wagner's Wesendonk-Lieder and Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder,
as well as other orchestral Lieder.

For her third summer's work as a Vocal Fellow of the Berkshire Music
Center at Tanglewood, Cheryl Studer won the 1977 High
Fidelity/Musical America Prize. The following year, she competed in
the Metropolitan Opera Auditions Finals and won the Mrs. Frederick A.
Stoughton Award. In 1979, she won the Franz-Schubert-Institut-Preis
for excellence in Lied interpretation. She received the Grand Prix du
Disque - Prix Maria Callas, in 1989. Cheryl Studer was particularly
honoured to be chosen by an international jury as the first recipient
of the International Classical Music Award in 1993 (London) in the
category Best Female Singer of the Year; in the same year, she also
received the Wilhelm Furtwñngler Prize. One year later, she was
chosen as Musical America's Vocalist of the Year (1994).

A great many recordings featuring Cheryl Studer have also received
numerous prizes, awards and distinctions. Among others: Tannhñuser
(Elisabeth - DG - G. Sinopoli): Gran Premio del disco Ritmo, Orphée
d'Or, CD Compact, Diapason d'Or; Attila (Odabella - EMI - R. Muti):
Diapason d'Or, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, L'Opera-CittÓ di
Mondovì, Musica Viva; Salome (Salome - DG - G. Sinopoli): Stella
d'Argento, Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du
disque, Edison Award, Orphée d'Or; Faust (Marguerite - EMI - M.
Plasson): Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, Choc du Monde de la
Musique, FFFF de Télérama, Orphée d'Or de l'Académie du disque
lyrique, Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle
Académie du disque, Classic CD 5-Star Award; Lohengrin (Elsa - DG -
C. Abbado): FFFF de Télérama, 10 de Répertoirte, Timbre de platine
d'Opéra international, Outstanding from BBC Music Magazine; Samuel
Barber's Complete Songs (With Thomas Hampson - DG - John Browning,
piano): Caecilia Prijs, Diapason d'Or, 10 de Répertoire, First Cannes
Classical Awards, Vocal Recital, XIX/XX centuries category, Hilary
Finch's Record of the Year (BBC Music Magazine), Gramophone Awards,
Solo Vocal category; Susannah (Title role - Virgin Classics - K.
Nagano): Grammy Award; Hérodiade (Salomé - EMI - M. Plasson): Choc du
Monde de la Musique, Diapason d'Or."

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Another resounding yes, especially when someone like the above mentioned gets shafted by the Establishment.


Name: Meggie
Profession: student
Date: 04/17/2004 12:34:16 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! I live in a typical middle-class home in California, and if I can learn to love opera, anyone can. It is just as accessible, through recordings and broadcasts, as any television genre or library book. Opera has such a history of being the entertainment of the masses; why should it be any different today? Some people might say that the cost of attending a professional, live opera is prohibitive for the common man, but, as I've said before, accessibility is practically unlimited via libraries, the Internet, video stores, and radio broadcasts. Anyone can appreciate beauty.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

A solely traditional repertoire alienates potential "light listeners," but purists will always demand the classical arias, so why not mix it up? I, personally, love to hear someone with Renee's kind of voice sing more popular pieces, since much lovely music is slaughtered by "popular" singers. Screw the snobs; sing whatever you want.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
As long as there is classical music to perform, it will never die; the world can never completely reject its most beautiful creations, and the human voice will always strive towards opera, the pinnacle of vocal perfection.


Name: Caterina Ritchie
Profession: MPA
Date: 04/16/2004 05:13:49 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No I don't. I think it is accessable to most anyone who really is interested.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I am only interested in opera/classical music, but it's her gift and I think she should sing what she wants to sing and what makes her happy.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I sure hope not!! You can't tell by the crowds at the Met. NYCO, Carnegie Hall and other venues that I travel to eg. La Scala, ENO, Teatro Reggio, Bastille etc.


Name: Tina
Profession: Voice Teacher
Date: 04/16/2004 05:06:16 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No! I think it has the power to touch everyone. People just need to be more receptive.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think she has an amazing instrument and flawless vocal technique. This allows her to sing anything she chooses and sing it very well.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No! There will always be a place for Classical music and Opera.


Date: 04/16/2004 01:43:20 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, certainly not, although this is the image. I am DEEPLY depressed that our only classical music station in the Bay Area, (KDFC-I hate even saying the word) is very much ruining what classical music in general is all about. They decided a couple of years ago to drop the Met live broadcast on Saturdays..something that I have listened to since I was a young boy (and hardly elitist)-this is a terrible, terrible, turn of events. It hurts opera very muich, in a city that has a fairly good opera company!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love the idea-what the hell not. I think it can be overdone, but I also think this is both enjoyable, and perhaps even important for exposure for opera.
And yes, keep singing serious and obscure works...and Mozart too!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No. No. At least, I pray to the gods not. It certainly is endangered on radio, and people's patience seems not to tolerate longer or more obscure operas it's true.

I try to integrate opera into my ancient history courses...so I do my bit!!!

Can I do more??!!


Date: 04/16/2004 11:33:06 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, not on the whole. However it is as far as the costs of attending opera performances. I think NPR has done a good job representing opera throughout the years. It is sad to see the broadcasts diminishing of the other opera houses other than the Metropolitan. And I wish there could be more telecasts aired.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love hearing Renée singing broadway and other standards!!
When do we hear a Brunhilde?? (kidding)

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
See question #1


Date: 04/15/2004 04:40:35 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No I don't. I really hate that it is perceived as such, and it bothers me that some people would like it to be. I certainly don't come from an elite background (and as my vocal coach tells me, most singers don't) but I can still relate to classical music deeply, as can alot of people I know.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think she should stick to doing classical music. Its not that I have anything against popular music, but she's damn good at what she already does (I hope one day I sing half as well as she does), and she shouldn't have to change that just to attract more of an audience.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No I don't think classic music or opera are endangered art forms, but it bothers me that they're aren't accessible to many people. I think classical music should be taught more in depth in public schools, and I wish more people recieved musical instruction when young, just for enrichment purposes. As a student I also hate how unaffordable tickets to the opera are unless you want to sit in the nose bleed seats, and even those are expensive.


Name: Michael Weaver
Profession: Retired Public School Teacher
Date: 04/15/2004 02:21:40 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes, but only to the extent that it attracts higher levels of discriminating musical taste. I think that people can easily rise to it but it is a lifetime journey built on aesthetic choices.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Intrinsic to anything she's ever sung is that beguiling and intelligent musicality which has never failed to win me. There is always more interest, for me, in the gems of serious vocal art and literature, of course. She astounds me with her ability to answer the art form that she has chosen to sing.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, I think that classical music has only just reached a saturation point in the market place - the "business end" of it; but it is alive in our minds and ears and shall always be the bedrock of our culture and civilization. The record of opera as the ultimate musical theater hasn't diminished at all and the standards are high enough to assure that it always shall enjoy preeminence.


Name: Th. Argyrakos
Profession: Medical Doctor
Date: 04/15/2004 01:19:15 PM


How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Not at all...
I'd like to answer to the young singer who says that Callas didn't sing well but she was a great actress. This is an opinion created by several not knowledgable critics and it has been said even by Maddona!!! For the reply of such a distortion of the truth, I will quote the opinion of the distinguished Vocal Teacher Gerald Martin Moore in his interview in BBC3 several years ago:
" Most people believe that Callas was an expressive and emotive singer but generally flawed technically. And although that might be the case in her later recordings -after 1958 I would add- if someone dwelled into the piratic early recordings from 1949-1955 you will find a FANTASTIC coloratura technique..."
Even Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, the Monster of Perfectionism had called Callas' singing as the Ultimate Perfection...
It is very sad to hear young students saying that Callas was not a great singer because that means that these "sad" opinions are being taught in the music schools today.
Callas' THREE OCTAVES from low F sharp (in her studio 1963 "Arrigo" aria) all the way to her high F (sung at the end of the quartetto of her live 1952 Armida in Firenze) are unrepeatable in the 20th century... Callas had a range of a contralto-mezzo soprano- dramatic soprano coloratura d'agilita or in short terms a Soprano Sfogato and that is an unrepeatable vocal phenomenon the likes of which were seen only in the voice of Giudita Pasta, the famous singer of the 19th century...

Renee Fleming is the first singer after Maria Callas who sings Bel Canto with such an enormous range in her voice... Fleming has sung a high G ABOVE the precious E flat at least twice in my knowledge and her low Chest Register is simply magnificent thus she does not have to "cut" or "murmur" the low notes written in the bel canto passages as her voice not only does not sound weak down there -as Sutherland's and Caballe's- but truly full and magnificent...

The only problem is that Fleming's unbelievable singing is, as I sadly see in this site, causing the same amount of hatred and envy that Callas had met during her career... That is the price for Fleming's already VAST repertoire!


Name: Roy Wood
Profession: Opera Fanatic
Date: 04/15/2004 05:47:13 AM


How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

You know people, why don't some of you show a little more respect for Cheryl Studer? What is it with bashing her so easily? Why do we protect Renee at every turn and debase the other also at every turn? Isn't there room for more than one? Me thinks so. That said, yes, Cheryl Studer is a most treasurable and distinguished artist. Period. Her legacy needs no apologies. And I treasure very highly Studer's sticking to serious repertoire. Brava!


Date: 04/14/2004 11:02:06 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think Renee shines best with opera.....or musical theater...actually, I have never heard her sing anything without shining!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No I don't...but I think it is important for public schools to introduce students to opera, otherwise it will be endangered.


Name: Roy Wood
Profession: Opera Fanatic
Date: 04/14/2004 10:33:33 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, no, no! (that's the simple answer) Standing Room at the Metropolitan is as cheap or cheaper than any other entertainment option in NYC. Movies in Manhattan and Standing Room are almost the same price!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think one should choose any music one sings so that it highlights one's best assets (and of course gives pleasure to the paying audience..and the singer as well). If done well, it's all good. I say "OWN it" Renee, whatever you decide works for u (just make sure that it really works for you, is all I ask!)

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, arts in America ...classical or otherwise...is endangered because of lack of funding. If they could run cars on Wagner, then there would be NO problem at all!


Name: Richard Aragundi
Profession: Office worker,Administrative
Date: 04/14/2004 08:37:14 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, I like to believe it is not. But Calssical music requires a bit more commitment on the part of the listener then popular music and I mean in that classical music requires you to be open to experiencing a whole different harmonic palette then what some may not be used to. My feeling about all music essentially is that it must mean something to the listener, it has to move you in some way. I believe that pop music does too, but with classical music you make a bigger emotional commitment. Hey, I was a product of the 60's & 70's, I learned to love all music and to find the value of it.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I'm torn, If stylistically she gets whatever she sings right, then I would love it. But I love how she sings Mozart, Strauss etc. that I want to say there is tons of unexplored classical gems waiting for Renee to perform! But I trust that she chooses carefully and knows what feels best for her, so why not give it a try.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I hope not!! I am a member of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and I am always blown away by how appreciative and ready for a musical adventure the audiences we perform for are. But...Classical Music, especially Opera is such an expensive art form, that unless we get more interest and financial support for the art, it could well be. Unlike Opera in most of Europe, it is not as subsidized by our goverment as much.
Also, people need to be exposed to it, so that the U.S. realizes how important all arts are to it's citizentry. It needs to stay in schools!!! It is an important part of the educational process.


Name: Lara Primak
Profession: physician
Date: 04/14/2004 06:06:09 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Judging from some of the posted answers to these questions (are you listening, music "critics"?), yes!!!! I previously answered "no" to this question, only because I have appreciated an increased visibility of opera singers and references in the general media. Of course, I'm sure that you "critics" out there oppose such presentation to the larger public, calling it "manufactured" and "plastic" and referring to those who deign to participate in such sharing as "sell-outs". Maybe what you really oppose is that you no longer have a way to feel unique or superior to others. It's like failing to broadcast political debates on major network television...let's make this stuff accessible to the have's, not the have-nots. It's a convenient way to weed out the "undesirables", no? Get your noses out of the air...all should have the opportunity to be exposed to this most beautiful music. (I thank God everyday that I was...)

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee should sing whatever moves her. She has an exquisite voice and, more importantly, is a consummate performer who has a special ability to connect with her audience. (Have those who criticize her ever seen her in recital? I did, in Philadelphia when she was ill and STILL gave a rapturous performance! Have they heard her rendition of Chi il bel sogno di Doretta on The Beautiful Voice? I almost fell out of my chair when I first heard her high note in that aria!!) People can be so critical of "popular" music, but isn't it most important that music moves and touches its listener? Isn't that what art is all about? Remember that many artists, composers and musicians who are now lauded for their artistry were once criticized or mocked.
Oh, and P.S. to you music "critics", etc. - I seriously doubt all of you have the credentials to judge Ms. Fleming's talent. Why don't you ask Beverly Sills what she thinks of Ms. Fleming, or someone who's actually been in her shoes.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
As long as we don't criticize artists for wanting to share their talents with the greater public (via appearances in more mainstream venues, foray into more popular repertoire, or even collaboration with artists in other musical genres), these art forms will stand a greater chance of survival. As long as we make funding of arts and music in schools a priority, classical music and opera stand a chance. All of us who love opera and classical music should do our part to expose others (those in our inner circles or in a greater community) to this beautiful music. Doing so will not only increase the chances of the art forms' survival but may be transformative to a single individual, which is an accomplishment in itself.


Date: 04/14/2004 04:45:56 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I wish she would release a Joni Mitchell cd. I heard her on Prairie Home Companion last December. The JM song she sang was Phenominal!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No. No.


Date: 04/14/2004 12:28:42 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes and no. It requires a certain amount of sophistication and maturity to truly appreciate and enjoy opera and classical music. These traits are not automatically acquired in some socio-economic/educational levels. Would "the masses" spend their last dollar on food, or would they purchase tickets to a Metropolitan Opera performance? On the other hand, perhaps if opera and classical music were introduced to all levels of society somehow (and I'm not certain how this could be done), a larger audience would be gained.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee's voice is suitable for a variety of music. It would be in her best interest, and ours, to continue to expand her choices. She is superb!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Unfortunately yes, both opera and classical music would be considered endangered art forms.


Name: Pickett T.Simpson
Profession: Civil Engineer
Date: 04/14/2004 09:07:17 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, but it does require some intellectual effort as well as emotional response.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Almost all "popular" music is too simplistic on which to have such talent wasted.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Both are in danger as the more demanding performing arts demand more. Also, it would appear that the arts are the first thing to go when education budgets are squeezed.


Name: Mike Richter
Profession: Music lover
Date: 04/14/2004 05:57:05 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I don't think so. But I think that problems arise when musicians try to 'talk down' or condescend to audiences. They can sense this.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

In defense of my friend Margo, she is right. You don't have to turn yourself into a camp act to reach out to audiences. This is the reason why singers like Cheryl Studer are more and more valuable with each day. One thing you cannot question is her dedication, integrity and professionalism. You may not like her voice or the way she sings but that's more your problem than hers. Indeed she is a treasurable artist.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Nothing is endangered, just changing, evolving. For what it's worth.


Name: Jen
Profession: Voice student
Date: 04/14/2004 01:41:20 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes. Absolutely. I wish that it weren't, and I often find myself thinking about things that I can do to change that. However, money is involved in classical music moreso than any other type of music. It takes money to buy an orchestral instrument. It takes money to train a classical musician. It takes tons of money to study at a conservatory. It is also very expensive to listen to classical music, especially in a concert setting. The fact that it takes so much money or incredible luck to become exposed to classical music seems to me to be the main reason that classical music is so elitist.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee is a beautiful performer and I believe that she should sing whatever makes her happy.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I definitely think both opera and classical music are endangered. There is such an "invisible wall" between the audience and the performers in opera. I often feel so uninvolved when I am watching an opera. I also think that the entire package of an opera performer is being lost in favor of wonderful singers. A good singer is not necessarily a good performer. Maria Callas, for instance, could not sing as well as many of the "great" performers of today, but she was an actress. She made you believe her characters. I think opera lacks this. I also see so few people my age at the opera. Something has to change to draw in a new audience or it really could become an obsolete art form.


Name: Elizabeth Reefer
Profession: lawyer
Date: 04/14/2004 12:25:05 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, but I think the perception is that it is elitist.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love the fact that she can do both. She makes popular music much more artistic for me.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes and yes.


Date: 04/13/2004 08:49:20 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
NO

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Stick to the serioous stuff

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
NO. People will enjoy Opera more if the director pays more attention on "Music" and "story" and not "effects".


Name: john
Date: 04/13/2004 11:26:12 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
plastic media product my arse!!!!


Date: 04/13/2004 11:23:09 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
It is these ridiculous people trying to make it elitist that's the problem!!!I am 16 and love opera..i don't particulaly care about understanding every last chord and cadence at the moment.I just love how it makes me feel. How on earth you can criticise Renee's voice i have no idea!!I am constantly being told by my "wise elders" that she has bad diction and that she's "not deep enough" -come off it!!She has the most amazing instrument,beautiful artistry and is a true performer without any sign of the ego that she has the right to posess!!She is flawless and i refuse to see it any other way.Perhaps we should put her critics on a stage infront of a symphony orchestra and 2,000 people and see how they manage.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee is able to sing anything she wants with great skill.Her talent is constant.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
With the likes of - blatantly jealous- music critics et al ,yes i do. I agree with certain criticisms... Hayley Westenra and Charlotte Church calling themselves opera singers is hugely annoying (especially when i know several young sopranos better than them!!)but it needs to be kept young in order to be kept alive.Renee is doing a wonderful job of inspiring young singers. Opera will have no future if you arty farty types keep trying to scare young musicians away when we're trying to learn!!!!!


Name: Theodore Argyrakos
Profession: Medical Doctor
Date: 04/13/2004 09:02:26 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes it is a matter for people with Musical Culture

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She could do whatever she wanted...
Cheryl Studer a true artist? Give me a break... tha lady has sung so many roles BADLY!!! (off tunes, bad technique etc) from the Queen of the Night to the Trovatore Leonora that she is a joke... Cheryl Studer is a joke for anyone who listens to opera seriously...
As for the music critics I will quote the opinion of Aris Christofelis: "Music critics are the worst parasites condemned by God to ENVY something that they will never become..."
Stop envying Fleming so much... It is so obvious you are ridicilous/...

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
As long as singers like Maria Callas, Elisabeth Scgarzkopf, Joan Sutherland and Renee Fleming appear Opera will bloom!!!


Name: Margo Briessinck
Profession: Music Critic
Date: 04/13/2004 06:10:52 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
In order to survive, yes, it has to be, increasingly so.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Please, please, please, stay away from it. If Fleming wants to be a jazz singer, then so be it. But please stop making a swamp out of -our- European art form. Enough is enough already. Two months ago I had the fortune of attending a Liederabend by soprano CHERYL STUDER. Therein lies the difference between a true artist (with a capital A) and the plastic media product that is Fleming. American singers (and they are decidedly always American) like Fleming and now Deborah Voigt have allowed themselves to become constructs of a coterie of gay New Yorkers or Northeasterners. Today they are parodies, camp, all in the interest of selling a ticket or a CD. But where are the critical standards?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
With all that I wrote above and the proliferation of Regietheater, it is all downhill from here, sorry to report.


Name: Bill Keese
Profession: Public Relations/Graphic Designer/Writer
Date: 04/12/2004 12:37:10 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Absolutely not.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It depends on the type of popular music. There is a lot in the popular music repertory that has lovely lyric qualities and melody. However, Renee should be very selective about what she sings in this venue because it can be a very slippery slope.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical music and opera are timeless and transcend all age constraints among its audience. Are Plato, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, and other great artists and their works endangered? I think not.


Name: Justin Randolph
Profession: A young baritone in training
Date: 04/12/2004 01:05:01 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
It could be viewed as one...however I think that it is coming out of the elitist form-or so I hope. It used to be for the people-I think it should be for the people...as singers we need to help make it for the people. Most people don't go to the opera because it's either too expensive or too ritzy. Why is it like that? This needs to be examined. Opera used to be for the masses-rich or poor...after all it is theatre. It's important that we keep this tradition alive.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that Renee is a true artist, and she is doing what she WANTS to do. I think that many classical artists shun crossover-but we need to EMBRACE our current culture and trends-as well as keep the past alive. However it's more important to live in the present-I think it's a great move for her.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I don't think it's endangered-if it is I think it is the performers and performances that have helped endanger this form. I think that time is moving on. Opera and classical music are very important to culture, however as Americans we haven't taken in solid diets of it like some in other countries where the music is in their blood. It's difficult because we are trying to interpret EXACTLY the works of GENIUSES--a very haunting task...which I think in the process if not done properly (or even so) can become stale. I think that if more new works were commissioned and put out properly that opera(in America) would change. I started becoming serious about being a classical singer upon seeing A StreetCar Named Desire-this made me believe in opera!


Date: 04/11/2004 05:23:58 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
But of course, it has to be elitist. What is wrong with that? Or let's phrase it differently: what is good about dumbing down?

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Rene'e Fleming simply cannot sing well, popular music or not. Listen to the ghastly records, listen to the grotesque style. Something is very wrong with this picture, IMO. I cannot but agree with the contributor who mentioned soprano Cheryl Studer, a bona fide class act. The moral: just because you are American does not give you a license to POPularize an artform that is not American. Kudos, then, to singers like Ms. Studer. Are you listening, Rene'e Fleming?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical Music and Opera are endangered but not for the predictable reasons thrown around. In a nutshell, in an era of instant gratification, in an era of superficiality, in an era of the 1-second soundbyte, in an era of Attention Deficit Disorder running rampant, very few have the disposition to pay attention or to listen with a critical ear. Hence the "critical" accolades lavished at people like Fleming, et.al.


Date: 04/10/2004 11:37:08 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes, to an extent. It is not the music of the general public. However, people from all walks of life, listen to, perform and enjoy classical music, and that same diverse audience can be applied to opera.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I like Ms. Fleming's voice singing opera. I have not heard her preform other genres of music, but I think she could sing whatever she wants. Many of her colleagues have tried popular music and ended up making an oversung mess. If Ms. Fleming decides to go that route, it would be a shame.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No. Even though classical music is not on the Billboard Hot 100, it is still an artform that is appreciated by many who don't listen to it. We have soundtracks, television shows, cartoons and such to thank for that.


Date: 04/10/2004 11:17:38 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
In some respects, but it shouldn't be.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think she is best in opera.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes. Yes.


Name: Mr. Klaas Backx
Profession: Dancer
Date: 04/10/2004 01:33:35 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, not at all! Opera is of coarse a genre that might not be accesable to all of us, but classical music is one of the most universal languages I know. Who is not touched by a Chopin nocturne, a Bach violin concerto or a Puccini aria? I think especialy now, with all the incredible new media we have at our disposal, classical musicians are facing one of the most exciting challenges ever, and that is to bring 400 years of music to as many people as possible! We now have the possibilities!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I am a bit oldfashioned I'm affraid. I'm not a great fan of crossover records. And I don't think Ms Fleming will reach more people with it. With her voice, her artistrie, and her incredible looks, she can do so much to get classical music out of its dusty and stiff image. Like singing for the Soccer Worldchampionships a few years ago in Rotterdam. There she reached a new audience I'm sure! It seems more interesting to me to go out of the usual concert hall with the so called "serious" music, and meet new audiences, then to do popular music. There's enough of that anyway. Our balletcompanie also hosts shows and rehearsals for children and students, sometimes from the less advataged neigbourhoods...... They LOVE dance, even the not so easy, more modern pieces. I think we sometimes underestimate our audience! We just have to create opportunities sometimes!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I don't think classical music is endangered at all! I go to classical concerts quite a lot, and eventhough there's a lot of old people in the audience, there's also a lot of young people always! I think we just have to make classical music a bit more glamourous, and a bit less stiff. Artists like Janine Jansen, a fabulous young dutch violin player, who has just signed her first contract with Decca, makes young people listen to Prokofiev! And they love it! And what Gergiev has done to the city of Rotterdam is incredible! We are now on the map in the classical music world, and the annual Gergiev festival attracts people from all over the country, from all ages! But then Gergiev also does a lot to reach the audience. He gives interviews and makes tv-programs about Russian music, he gives masterclasses on tv......he usues all media to reach the audience. Maybe there's a chance for Ms Fleming as well? A tv program about opera? A childrens program maybe? Masterclasses? More dvd's (Like te wonderfull "Manon" and "Rusalka" dvd)? More people can afford a 20$ dvd, then a 200$ ticket to the operahouse!


Date: 04/10/2004 01:02:34 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Not good at all. There are singers in the business (ergo, Cheryl Studer) who refuse to pander to the lowest possible common denominator and still manage to have careers...and sing even more beautifully than fill-in-the-blank.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes


Date: 04/10/2004 12:54:03 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes, and should be.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Fleming cannot sing popular music. Her forays into this area are nothing short of preposterous. Bad, bad singing. Problem is, she also sings the classical rep in the pop/blues style.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, it is endangered because few and fewer GENUINELY care. The desperate attempts to market it in Pop/Rock fashion, only adds ridicule to injury. The debasement continues apace. And I am afraid that people like Fleming are deliberate collaborators. More harm than good is being done.


Name: Lavinia Nelder
Profession: Engineering Geophysicist
Date: 04/10/2004 08:36:20 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not as much as it used to be. If the people responsible for its production exclude certain sections of a society from accessing opera and classical music then it will be elitist, as has been the case in the past. This is now changing and hopefully more people will be able to enjoy it. The main problem in the UK is, as ever, the tabloid press. When they stop calling opera elitist half of the battle will be over.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

If it's something you enjoy and want to have a bash at then go for it.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical music and opera are not in any great danger from where I see it. As long as there is an audience anything can survive. The trick is going to be expanding the audience base to ensure a healthy progression


Date: 04/09/2004 10:59:56 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee should most definately continue singing serious, classical pieces. Popular music is almost like a sellout.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical music is not endangered. I play in an orchestra, and as long as there are students and adults who have a passion for their instruments and their music, classical music will continue. Opera is less appreciated by the public, just like poetry and great literature. Because it is an art, it will never die, but it is certainly underappreciated and underrated.


Date: 04/09/2004 03:01:21 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
To some extent, Yes. It is the grandest form of entertainment, with wonderful visuals and sounds. Since most opera companies can't sell enough seats to cover the cost of production, they rely on philanthrophy to cover their operating deficit. This makes it an elitist art form, since most people involved with serious philanthropy are from the upper income strata of society.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She is a master at the opera/oratorio art form. I would enjoy more interpretations of the American Musical theatre classics similar to "You'll Never Walk Alone" that fit her vocal style. Perhaps "America's beautiful voice" singing "America's best songs". An album of patriotic songs, or Appalachian folk tunes (along the lines of "The Water is Wide/Shenandoah" from Two Worlds) would be wonderful. Perhaps a recital/recording of Copland's "American Songs". I think Renee should also think of doing an album with the folks from Sesame Street.

Renee should get some serious critical opinions before she ever records a jazz album. There are wonderful jazz singers out there, who have mastered the art form and practice it daily. She should hear Martha Lorin, or Tierney Sutton, or Jeanne McDonald or others of their ilk perform before deciding if she's at their level of jazz performance.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Based on record sales, you would think so. A certain audience will always support art music. Opera has its bright spots, companies such as Sarasota and Glimmerglass seem to be thriving. A key to all of this is supporting music education in the schools, thats how you will build your audience. Renee's performances on Oddessey and PBS do much to make her more accessible to the public.


Date: 04/09/2004 12:22:08 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
...some people just like it and an elite understand it profoundly.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It's how she feels she wants to do.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not endangered...any time there will be people who will enjoy this music.


Date: 04/08/2004 12:27:04 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I believe Opera "used to be" an elitist art form. I remember, at age 7, watching my father sing the role of the jailer in Tosca and not understanding what was being sung in Italian. Though having no clue what was transpiring, I was moved by Puccini's music.
In this day and age of technical advances, ie Met Titles, I see a more diverse audience enjoying the performances.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Ms Fleming has one of those voices that opens boundaries and, after purchasing her latest CD, I believe she can sing any style and be enjoyed by all audiences.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, not at all. Why you may ask? I was fortunate enough to watch Ms Fleming perform in La Traviata this past March and found myself closing my eyes and being totally entranced. I then looked around and to my amazement saw both teens and seniors on the edge of their seats, spellbound!


Date: 04/08/2004 12:25:36 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think that Opera and Classical music may not be for everyone, but I don't feel "elite" for enjoying it.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that Renee should stick with more Classical and Operatic singing. Anyone can sing popular music, but not everyone can sing a Puccini aria.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do think that Classical music and opera are not as popular as they once were, because there are so many other choices and people are not exposed to it as much. However, I also think that Classical Music and Opera are put in movies for this reason...to put it out there for people that would not normally listen to it.


Date: 04/07/2004 09:01:37 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Of course not, it just takes a little time and selective exposure to appreciate.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Whatever makes her happy.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, I find many people here in Los Angeles seeking to understand, experience and appreciate Classical Music and Opera.


Date: 04/07/2004 08:53:14 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
yes

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

poular

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
yes, yes


Name: Nathan Swanson
Profession: College Student- Vocal Music Education
Date: 04/07/2004 03:56:46 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
This is a difficult question to answer with a simple yes or no. Classical music/ Opera is an art form which most of the public is largely ignorant of. They know it exsists, but they do not know anything about it. This is unfortunate because I believe classical music/ opera to be an art form that requires a certain amount of education to be fully appriciated. In this sense I believe classical music to be somewhat of an elitist art form. On the otherhand, I found that most people can learn to like and appriciate opera/ classical music. i have introduced many of my friends to opera and the orchestra for the first time. Most of them have enjoyed it, but I doubt they would have if I hadn't been their to answer questions and share intriguing bits of information with them about the orchestra, music, etc.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I personally prefer Renee's voice in the more 'serious and esoteric choices'. I have heard her sing some popular music and it was good but not my favorite. I would like to see her broaden her classical repetoir more. She has done a lot of opera, but not much oratorio work. I loved her in the 'Elijah'. i would be interested to hear what she might do with some other sacred literature.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes I do. I am from Tulsa, OK and our Philharmonic Orchestra just recently went bankrupt and is no longer in exsistance. Their were several reasons for this, but one of the major ones was the fact that several of the major donor's to the orchestra (that supported it through the 1980s-1990s) had died. Younger generations did not take the place of older ones in supporting the orchestra. My grandparent's generation was educated in the area of classical music/ opera in school. Music appriciation classes were fairly common in highschools and required at Universities in most places before the 1960s. As a result, people from that generation learned to appriciate classical music/ opera and supported it through attending concerts and financial donations. Those courses are no longer required at the universities or offered in most highschools, and as a result a whole generation of educated people is now ignorant in knowledge about classical music. This ignorance has transpired into a lack of interest and support of classical music/opera. I recently had the opportunity to take a group of 800 elementary students to an opera (Turandot). Most of them loved it. I think it would be easy to get people interested in classical music/ opera if we spend the time to educate them (especially at an early age).


Name: Andrew Roughgarden
Profession: Information Technology/Singer - Baritone
Date: 04/07/2004 02:15:55 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
NO!!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!! Of course I am biased being a classically trained lyric baritone who has been singing since the age of 3 or 4 and still do at age 35. Opera is misunderstood and is actually another form of story telling. People just need to be educated.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

To become the best one must always strive to learn new and untried things. It is these challenges that take us and our voices to new and exciting levels. Besides Renee sounds great in everything she sings. Keep challenging us listeners too.

"Great art is like God, we always look upon it with new eyes." - the Rev. John R. Rodland 1986

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical music is not and endangered art form yet, but if we do not work to increase awareness it may become shortly. At a recent performance of JS Bach's St. John's Passion we were alarmed and disappointed at the meager size of the audience which had come to hear the performance and also participate in this unique form of worship.


Name: Alice Burton
Profession: voice student
Date: 04/07/2004 01:49:09 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think it has been for many years and that many people would wish it to remain so, but at the same time, there are groups/people working to make it more approachable.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Depends on what you mean by popular. I love her doing musicals as long as she doesn't do her Southern accent (no offense, I love Renee!) while singing. The Star Crossed Lovers album is one of my favorites.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I've heard that of all the classical venues, opera attendance is actually going up, so I'm not too worried about it. As to simply orchestral music, I'm not a huge fan, but I think it'll stick around.


Date: 04/07/2004 01:01:23 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, it takes an education in music to fully appreciate classical music but it is not elitist.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Live and in person, I've heard Renee sing "popular" music and thought it was great. On recordings, she was not as good although I do love the duet album with Terfel. She is much better at it that say Te Kanawa or Norman ever were in this repetoire.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Hard to say....for me, it has kept me going in dark times in my life and I pray that more and more people will come to appreciate and value this kind of music.


Date: 04/07/2004 08:52:39 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all.

Opera Houses and Concert Halls have patrons from all walks of life. Top price tickets in Opera Houses might be very expensive but there is a wide variety of cheaper tickets, be it seats or standing available.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It is her own private choice to sing whatever she feels is good for her voice and entertains her fans.

Personally, I would like to hear her more in Opera's. Unforgortten is the Marschallin in London and her recent triumphant concert. And the prospect of a Desdemona at Covent Garden is VERY exciting.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not sure is the answer. One can read/hear this all the time but then again Opera houses are full.


Date: 04/06/2004 04:25:07 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think to a certain extent opera is an elisit art form because traditionally people associate it with the elite.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that would be career suicide.

I think she should stick to opera and musical theater... where she can expand even more is in the English/American art song and opera rep. I'd much rather hear Renee than Dawn Upshaw! I believe that would help to expand her audience. I would love to hear her record Knoxville: Summer of 1915.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I believe is will be endangered if it does not attain the same amount of advertisement and endorsement that pop singers attain. Putting in an advertisement in OperaNews and in the NY Times doesn't reach the same audience that a national TV ad would. In order to expand your audience you need to advertise to more than just your core market.


Date: 04/06/2004 10:09:41 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would not presume to tell Renée what to sing! However, I prefer to hear her sing Strauss and Mozart!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, I do not. Every time I go to the opera (if I'm lucky, about four times a year), it is always a packed house.


Date: 04/05/2004 03:08:28 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. But to me it seems that only a certain group of people are interested in classical music/opera because they have more access to this kind of music + more money. It's very rare to have a person who grew up in a very poor area beeing able to afford to go to the opera,for example.Lots of people never even heard an opera in their lives! Maybe if we had more propaganda of classical music, more people would be interested

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think its important for an artist to be able to sing everything,and Renee is doing that very well.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not at all. I think its a good thing


Date: 04/05/2004 12:50:26 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. Maybee in the US. In other parts of the world like Italy is part of their fiber.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

If it is done well I think she might bring popular music to a higher standard and therefore make a significant contribution.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Is not endangered but in the US is not as accesible to the public


Date: 04/05/2004 01:37:09 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Sometimes. I certainly didn't come to it that way. But the more I study and listen and become a part of that circle the more it becomes that way.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

As a muscian I love a wide variety of music. Of course the recording industry has to worry about sells but an artist should not be limited to one "style" of music because that is what they are most suited for. Sing and record whatever you like. Do we really need disc after disc of the same type of music. She already has close to a dozen discs of basically the same music. Let's hear something new. Of course that doesn't mean you can't record more opera after that! Just remember you can't sing a "pop" song with the same bravura as a Verdi aria.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No there will always be a core of people who love this music. However, I think it is such a shame that more people can't be exposed to this music in a positive way.


Date: 04/04/2004 07:21:08 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love to hear classically trained performers in other venues, especially when it is done well (i.e. Renee) It is so rewarding to hear non-classical music sung well by a classical performer.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, including opera. Parents of this generation are not introducing their children to classical music. Even if they study an instrument, they are constantly trying to "popularize" it.


Name: chris spurrell
Profession: consulting
Date: 04/04/2004 04:48:59 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
yes

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

it is up to her what she sings - though I prefer to hear classical - i dont think 'trained' voices work in popular music - at all...

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
not as long as people love it - what is a problem is the record companies force such limited choices on people - is yo yo ma the only 'cellist on the planet? or am I missing something? Just an example....


Date: 04/04/2004 09:49:54 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all! But maybe I'm impartial. I think that the great thing about music, is that it brings people together from all walks of life. Last summer, my friends and I bought tickets to the North Carolina Symphony's Summerfest Series. We spent every Saturday night, sprawled out in the park with a picnic and a bottle of wine. We met all kinds of people, who were there to have a great time and enjoy some really great music! I still keep in touch with a Methodist minister, her husband, and his brother and sister-in-law. They're a little bit younger than my parents!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

As a singer, I enjoy singing showtunes, as well as classical rep. And I have to admit that my guilty pleasures are hip-hop and top 40 pop trash! But if I'm honest, I have to say that the classical voice isn't always suited to popular music...too much vibrato.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I actually think just the opposite! There was a time when our Board of Directors was in danger of dying of old age. But it's very encouraging to see more and more young people enjoying the arts. I think arts education, and parents who raise their children with an awareness of cultural opportunites are key to this process!


Name: jim ediger
Profession: retired bus operator (Chicago)
Date: 04/04/2004 06:36:41 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. AND THE Italians don't think so either opera is. since the arrival of rock and rap Music standard have been dumbed down so far all other music looks elitist. as a kid we had classical music concerts in the public schools played by professional musicians as part of the WPA progran.
Our political leaders set the cultural tone for this county.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

If Renee sang pop or blues or any other music genre we would find someone from the Met was there before.
For instance: Eileen Farrell (much to Rudolf Bing's chagrin) sang blues. See the album "I've a right to sing the blues" Jan Peerce, Dorothy Kirsten, Laurence Tibbit, Richard Crooks, James Melton, Eleanor Steber, Ezio Pinza,

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
If we think it's important enough to us value the treasure we call music is just a safe as we want it to be. If we would rather make war then make music we will lose it. People in the dark ages turned their back on this world in favor of the next, burned the library at Alexadria as a military convenience. Enlightenment was put out for a moment. (1000 years)


Name: Jennifer Gates
Profession: student
Date: 04/02/2004 04:53:53 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think that the public it has become that, but that it certainly does not have to be. And it was never intended to be such. The ideas expressed (particularly in opera, but in all serious music) are universal and can be appreciated by all people. The issue is accessibility and openness. People think that they won't understand opera because it's just people singing very loud in a different language, but they are missing the point.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

As an artist, I would like her to follow her artistic conscience. However, I would prefer serious music.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, definitely. I think that our culture running more and more contrary to the principles of serious music.


Name: Ashley Foot
Profession: A voice major at Mcgill University
Date: 04/02/2004 11:43:48 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think to call anything an elitist art form is a dangerous thing to do. I think it's possible that the audiences by design appear to be elitist but the art form itself is not elitest at all. I think it is a certain number of people within the Opera/Classical music industry who are elitist and believe that they are above the masses of the other music. The form itself is not elitist. Unfortunatly it has been painted into a corner by our society because its appeal is not as huge as say a concert by Brittany Spears or Justin Timberlake. Because of the financial situation with sponsorship today it seems more and more that the form itself is being supported only by very wealthy patrons and companies that make Opera and Classical Music seem as elite as it is.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I personally love Renee singing popular music. I think she is beautiful in both areas. It is terrible how artists are "boxed in" so to speak to one genre only. As a beginning singer I place artists like Sondheim and Joni Mitchell, and others in the same place as Schubert and Mozart....it's just about value judgments......Renee, Under the Stars is beautiful. I loved it dearly.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Both classical music and Opera are endagered art forms. I think, though, we cannot try to cross them over with popular music. It's important to keep them seperate but equal. Classical Music and Opera will never dissapear and neither will the people who perform them and love them. It's in our souls.


Date: 04/02/2004 10:09:34 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No - it should be taught in the schools so that public enjoyment and awareness could be heightened.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I'm happy to hear Renee sing anything as long as she feels it suits her voice.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes. I think that younger audiences are not being developed for symphonic and operatic performances. (Again, where is the funding for music in schools?).


Name: Jose Hernandez
Profession: Student: Aspiring opera singer
Date: 04/01/2004 03:20:43 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. I think that music is universal and not confined to one specific social class or economic group. What makes opera/classical music seem like an elitist art form? The price one pays for the ticket, not the music.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

In my opinion, there is one vocal technique and many different styles to perform. Ms. Fleming is a musician with roots in non-classical music. I am confident that despite whatever artistic direction she decides to take that she will apply her own musical expertise and succeed.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I sure hope not. It is the responsibility of each musician to play their part as advocate for music education, denounce mediocrity and commit to excellence in performance.


Date: 04/01/2004 02:45:01 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Oh God NO! It is the music of the soul, accessible to all.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I am not so interested in popular music myself, generally speaking, but it is not for me to decide what Madame Fleming should sing. My best advice would be for her to sing what she loves. Passion always shines through.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do not at all think classical music is endangered, particularly as my young children are just beginning to embrace it. Opera, at least in my lifetime, has become more popular. I wonder if the "popera" genre has facilitated this in any way (Charlotte Church et al).


Date: 04/01/2004 02:16:33 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
not necessarily elitist,but perhaps inaccesable to people who have no background in it. I think that opera is the most beautiful art form and if a wider majority of the population were exposed to it and willing to keep an open mind they'd find it just as breath taking. The problem i feel lies with certain "cross over" artists promoting the wrong sounds and people not having ears to hear!!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think Renee can pull anything off!!Her background is in jazz and no matter what she sings, the beautiful tone of her voice is constant.Her CD with Bryn Terfel is just as great to listen to as all the others,besides singing's meant to be fun isnt it?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes i do.It worries me that when my turn comes there won't be an audience to hear me!!!


Date: 04/01/2004 11:53:25 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would suggest that she sing whatever music she feels suits her voice and mood, but I prefer her more serious work.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I hope not - my daughter is an aspiring singer!


Date: 03/31/2004 10:52:53 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes. To me, opera is without a doubt the highest and most beautiful form of art there is.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think she should sing many various styles. If you have a powerful voice, you should expand it and reach other audiences and styles to get a well-rounded musical experience.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
yes, very. I think that especialy opera is becoming less and less popular as the years go on.


Date: 03/31/2004 07:06:06 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Unfortunately, yes. I believe very few people have taken the time to become aware, or educated about the art form of opera. Production costs and the resulting ticket pricing have kept the price of attending an Opera out of the reach of the common working person.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

The great arias are vastly improved when sung by Renee. However, when Renee sings more "popular" music it is also beautiful. The difference is in the music itself, the classical, esoteric music is more beautifully written than most of the popular pieces.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, Classical Music, because it is best when heard live, which requires paying real musicians, is an endangered art form. Opera, is even more so,due to the language barrier presented by the operas. Also, Corporations sponsor sports arenas for marketing exposure. There are no acousitcally designed halls being sponsored by corporations because Television does not cover Opera and Classical music.


Date: 03/31/2004 02:27:47 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Many of the innate characteristics of opera make it an art form for the privileged. If you were to read through the comments on the website, as I have, they come from doctors, lawyers, CPAs, and other white-collar professionals. To some degree this cannot be helped. However, it is my experience that there are a great many pretentious classical musicians whose attitudes are completely unnecessary. It is especially common in the lower circles of classical music, especially those singers/musicians who were never able to win the Metropolitan competition or make it into a prestigious orchestra. This is especially troublesome when they become frustrated educators whose snobbish facades only turn people off and do nothing for the art form. Opera will never again be entertainment for the masses as it was in prior centuries, but I think we must make every effort to educate and draw as many people into it as possible who will truly appreciate what classical music has to offer.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It is my opinion that Renée, as well as any talented vocalist, should make every effort to determine for themselves what kind of music is calling them, whether it be opera, musical theatre, jazz, popular, or anything else. In many cases, as it is for me, there is a strong desire to communicate through two or more genres of music. I think that Renée is intelligent and talented enough to determine for herself the kind of music that speaks to her, and she should perform whatever repertoire she desires. It is that elitist attitude of “I’m too good for anything but opera” that turns so many people off. That is why it is so refreshing to see Renée and other classical artists who are not afraid to ignore their critics and sing whatever they want, whatever speaks to them. Notice that the critics are rarely the ones with the talent, only the attitude. Renée, sing whatever you want; I’ll buy whatever it is.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think it is important to try to educate people about classical music, and expose them to everything it has to offer. I don’t think the current problems within the art form are permanent. The audition rooms at conservatories are too full for the problem to last.


Name: Kimberlee Anliot
Profession: Professional Musician
Date: 03/30/2004 09:09:28 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would not buy a cd with Renee singing popular music. Not because I don't think it would sound good. I prefer hearing her sing opera.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do think it's endangered. In this fast paced world of ours we must do more to excite and tantalize the audience. I believe opera is more in danger of dying out.


Name: John Beck
Profession: Interior Designer
Date: 03/30/2004 04:00:45 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I believe that it is perceived as elitist. I find it very accessible.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Certainly her strength is classical/opera and this is what I listen to the most, I have really enjoyed "Under the Stars".

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
It won't be as long as there are people like us to support it, teach and encourage others to participate in the arts.


Name: Brad Stoodley
Profession: Singer (university student)
Date: 03/30/2004 03:46:52 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I don't think it is designed to be. I do believe that the elitists within the system have more or less ruined it for the average everyday person. I am a singer, and opera lover, and elitists and traditionalists make me angry sometimes! The history of the music should be respected, but not to the point where it stops being fun.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would love to hear Renee sing more of anything! I hate that "classical" singers feel that you can not sing any other form of music. However, I only want to hear an opera singer sing pop if he or she can do it within the style. For example, if Ben Heppner is going to sing blues, I don't think he should do it with the same voice he uses in Tristan und Isolde. The same thing applies to me not wanting to hear Brittany Spears sing Tosca. If a singer is going to cross genres, they should make sure they are in complete command of the style required. After hearing Renee sing some jazz and standards, I don't think she'll have any problem whatsoever.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, I do think it is endangered. There are a lot of factors in this, but a few main points. First, elitists scare away young people and new comers. Opera Houses also do this by keeping up the facade of elitism. Secondly, opera is in some parts, far too expensive for what you get. I don't mind paying $250 to see Fleming and Hvortovsky at the Met, but to see unknown singers in smaller centers the cost has become outrageous and therefore inaccessible. Third, the stars of opera are distant and hard to reach. People need to be able to associate with the people they are paying to go see (not privately). An oppertunity to meet a singer (like Renee) on occasion makes people feel good. I'm a singing student and I've never met anyone, I can't imagine it's any easier for a newcomer to opera to do it. Lastly, Opera and Classical music is totally ignored in public schools now. Not only is it not taught to people, but kids can't go see operas or concerts. This needs to change, because if you can reach a child at age 8, or 15 or whenever, they might become life long lovers of the opera.


Name: Rick McDole
Profession: high school choir director
Date: 03/29/2004 05:18:04 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, I don't. It's an art form which is relevant to anyone of any ethnic, educational, and social background. There's something there for every taste.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think it's always good for artists to explore other areas of expression. It's always hard from some purists to see someone doing a style of music which they look down on as inferior. But I personally think it's great for an artist to show diversity.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I don't think that about classical music as such, but opera needs a renaissance of new pieces to bring something new to the art form. It's been a long time since there was a growth in the new repertory available for opera houses to present. I hope several composers will step forward to give us more of this art form in a modern form. We need new literature to keep things fresh, to shake things up a little.


Date: 03/29/2004 02:18:43 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
It shouldn´t be, just like any other art form, even though prices for Cd´s and even tickets to performances aren´t helpful.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I still believe opera or classical music in general isn´t an esoteric art form. I´d love to see more of her coming as regards lyrical singing, but I´m quite intrigued about her jazz background.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not at all. As far as there are sensitive people ready to get rid of prejudices about this kind of music, and this is very probable, it certainly won´t disappear. I understand lyric voices are quite hard to swallow at first for those who are not accostumed, but it´s the same case, in my opinion.


Date: 03/28/2004 05:38:24 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I don't care what she sings: it's all beautifully done!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Too expensive on the whole for Mr & Mrs Average to attend regularly


Name: john katz
Profession: investment research consultant
Date: 03/28/2004 04:08:31 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Singing popular music good.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No. Neither endangered - though the cost of staging opera and attending performances makes it impossible for most people to see live opera.


Name: Theodore Argyrakos
Profession: Medical Doctor, Pathologist
Date: 03/28/2004 07:17:20 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Even the simplest Italian Aria (Nessun Dorma or Un bel di vedremo) demands from the listener a bit of a higher musical culture. Popular Verdi and Puccini may be more approachable by the wider audience but Operas by Wagner, Strauss and Gluck, even Donizzeti and Bellini sometimes demand not only musical culture but a higher IQ in general.
Yes Opera is an elitistic art form but its Elit refers to IQ and Intelligence in general and not in other Elitistic Criteria (financial or social status)

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee Fleming is not just another No1 soprano like Te Kanawa or Hendricks or Cotrubas ... Renee Fleming is one of the Greatest Singers of all times although I am not so sure she realises that. The reason is very simple: she posseses a tremendously solid column of sound with low register strong, middle registeer strong and high register even stronger... Because in opera, all come down to this very simple quality: the Range of the Voice and the Chromatic Expression (there are countless vocal qualities but the Queen of all is Range). A soprano with a wide range is destined to become Legendary
Thus, hearing Fleming singing simple songs is exciting and beautiful but it really seems like puting Paganini to perform Andrew Loyd Weber... nothing bad about it just not worthy of her real status

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not at all. Classical means out of Space and Time... endagered are Spears and Madonna who as soon they leave the stage they are forgotten. Pop music maybe "classical" pop artists are not!!!
Classical music will be alive as long as a Richter, a Du Pre, a Furtwangler, a Rubinstein, an Oistrakh etc are being born... Even if classical music is not continuously produced -the Atonical composers with their lack of talent and outrageous ambition have done harm but not that much- the already written music is too much to support the Life of Music.
3 centuries after the Birth of Opera by Monteverdi and we still are mad about opera... Mozart's Operas are cherished and loved as nothing else.
Callas 40 years after her last performance is being discussed and analysed, worshiped and admired more than when she was alive...
Opera lives outside space and time as true Art... Opera maniacs are being born every minute ...


Name: Jorge Orlando Arango Alvarez
Profession: Historiador & Programador de Radio
Date: 03/28/2004 01:44:55 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. La gente no se dispone a escuchar musica clasica porque no quiere pensar solo desea entretenerse. La musica clasica es costosa pero no elitista.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee Fleming es una esplendida vocalista. La he escuchado cantando jazz y otras canciones. Mrs Fleming deberia grabar mas musica popular.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Nunca... como programador de musica pienso que debemos educar a los oyentes para que se acerquen a la musica clasica...

La opera como forma de arte no desaparecerá nunca... porque cada vez seduce mas y mas escuchas. Por ejemplo, cuando se escucha "La Traviata" de Verdi con Renée Fleming, Ramon Vargas y Dmitri Hvorostovsky, uno solo desea tener esa interpretacion eternamente.


Name: Cathie Lyons
Profession: Barnes & Noble manager
Date: 03/27/2004 07:20:34 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Because people's tastes are different, Ms. Fleming breadth of expertise can bring enjoyment to a large and diverse audience.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Classical Music will always have its place as will opera.


Name: Dennis Morgan
Profession: CHARTERED CERTIFIED ACCOUNTANT
Date: 03/27/2004 05:49:11 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No.
It is a much more accessible art form these days.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Having just experienced the sound of Renee live in Birmingham last week I would like to hear her glorious voice singing contemporary songs appropriately orchestrated.
The danger here is that the choice of songs and their orchestration fall below the standards set by Renee say in her Strauss work while her standard of singing eclipses current interpretations by a far margin.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
The decline in classical music record sales and music standards where being photogenic is more important than being talented (the longer the hair the less the talent)is worrying. While at the same time the success of compilations broadens the number of people appreciating classical music it appears to be at the expense of people wanting to listen to complete works as they were written.
This is equally true of opera.


Date: 03/27/2004 12:37:46 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Yes

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think that she should do what ever makes her happy.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No because their are thousands of high school and college students who love opera and classical music.


Date: 03/27/2004 07:31:46 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not in any way, and the more that singer's of the calibre of Renée Fleming are heard on the radio will bring more and more of the public to say - "this is great music - I must hear more"

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I am happy that she does bring her superb voice to the wider audience, that way that audience will reach out and listen to operatic music, which could be on the same programme. The public/people are always curious - a desire to learn - and enjoy what they hear and see.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I am an optimist by nature and I believe that Classical music will, with radio stations such as Classic FM which play "Music of the Master's" often in smaller "Sound Bite's" of the great composer's, remind listeners of what they could be missing and want more. With Opera, outside the few operatic venues around Great Britain, rely on recordings, or the radio.


Name: Justin Trifiro
Profession: aspiring opera singer
Date: 03/27/2004 01:19:34 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Of course.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee Fleming should and will sing anything her heart desires. Esoteric, mainstream,cross-over,all terms which, by their nature, invariably aim to corner an artist and squander her prodigious, multi faceted gifts.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Opera is thriving. As long as there are gay men, opera shall prevail.


Date: 03/26/2004 08:31:17 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No, although many of those who will never see this site or answer such a question may think so, but that we will never know for certain. Interesting question.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would support any efforts Ms Fleming made and trust in her inherent good judgement in performing music in any venue. If popular music draws people into the classicl/opera music form, then that would be a plus.

Ultimately though, I hope that Renée will take the greatest advantage of this time and record anything and everything appropriate to her classically trained voice that she's able to do over the next few years.

These years are golden and not to be squandered. As her own sister said, she's considered a national treasure by many. I'm partly joking when I say this, but shouldn't a nationally appointed historian follow her around and get it ALL on tape?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No & no. But, it certainly could be healthier. Both need a huge infussions of national and private funding in the US. We who are here answering these questions know all this. I don't know what we should do about the lack of claccis/opera ciriculum in schools.


Date: 03/26/2004 03:46:24 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think people have pre-conceived notions about opera and classical music. They believe because it is in a 'foreign language' (which isn't always true) and isn't played on the mainstream radio stations or something that you see on PBS that it isn't for the general population. I think it's just because many people have never had exposure to it. I am from a rural area in Iowa. I was introduced to opera when my choir director gave me a piece to sing for contest. Since then it's become my life. And my family, in turn, has grown to appreciate it as well.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I'm a firm believer in spreading your wings and challenging yourself to new things. If you've got the chops, then by all means sing what you want! Of course, as a very devoted Fleming fan, I'd listen to anything she offered! Also, I think it's a great way to expose people who don't genereally listen to opera to the best the field has to offer. I always support cross-over efforts by classical singers.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
As a classical singer, I worry a great deal about the future of opera. We are lacking the support we need from the government and also from patrons. Rehearsal schedules are cut, production budgets are smaller, and companies seem to be losing money more often than not. Funding for arts in the schools is always cut first, public broadcasting is gone due to lack of money. It's very sad, and very scary. I don't necessarily think that interest in opera and classical music is diminishing, just the accessibility of it. I also want to go on record as saying I'm a little concerned at the turn that opera seems to be taking toward emphasis on personal appearance. It used to be that physical appearance of a singer came second to their singing and acting abilities. However, there is a growing trend that leans toward the importance of the way a singer looks, sometimes over the way they sing. Perhaps this is a ploy to get more people interested in opera. I know very well that singing is a very physical activity and that it is important to stay in shape. But I also believe that a singer should be judged on ability, not how they look in a costume.


Name: Christopher McGilton
Profession: Telecommunications Engineer
Date: 03/26/2004 11:01:05 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
To a certain extent yes. Most who appreciate classical forms of music are exposed to it in their childhood. Even more so for operatic music. Appreciation for this music if not exposed to it during childhood is likely to be non-existent as it is not marketed for the most part in a commercial format to the masses compared to other forms of music. There are exceptions, however and these exceptions are usually accompanied by other forms of media, i.e. film, television series, etc... and/or the classical forms presented are altered to be more appeasing to the masses (such as livening up classical music to be more like pop and such).

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She is an gifted artist who can sing just about any style of music! I'd love to have Renee make a mixed content album of sorts. A combination of pop, jazz, r&b and classical. Perhaps even some religious music. This would certainly forge new marketing strategies in classical music and would foster the classical arts more so to the masses.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, as long as it is fostered in the schools and quality instructors are teaching our children, classical music can flourish and grow. Opera is a more distinct form of classical music which begins at late adolescence for most pursuing it and opera will continue as is if competent vocal music instructors continue to teach.


Name: holly bolton
Profession: opera singer
Date: 03/26/2004 01:06:25 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
yes. unfortunately, few people venture out to entertain the idea of listening to opera. it is difficult to grasp b/c it is in an unknown language, it reflects a past form of singing, it isn't televised regularly, and it isn't promoted in schools. for example, many of the schools in the south don't have music programs. it is very difficult for those students to have any musical experience altogether.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

i believe that if you have a voice, you have a specific type. i am a singer, buti am not of the belief that if you sing opera well and have a good technique that you can sing all other genres of music. it's true you can sing anything you like, but that doesn't mean you will do it well. if you sing opera well, you should stick to opera. otherwise when you are singing popular music it will have a tendency to sound like opera karaokee.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
classical music no. i believe that there has been a recent shift in what is considered to be the most popular form of classical music. there has been a rapid decline in orchestral performances, such as the symphony and an increasing interest in opera. i believe the increase is due largely to the popularization of the three tenors. almost anyone you ask has heard of lucianno pavorotti and most people would say that they enjoy hearing him sing, even if they have no interest in "opera". that brings me to my main point, most people don't know if they like opera or not b/c they haven't heard or seen an opera. in order for anything to be considered popular in today's society it has to hoard every mass medium. otherwise, the unfamiliar is the unliked.


Name: Mary N. Bulfer
Profession: lawyer
Date: 03/25/2004 07:49:12 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Classical music and opera are elite in the sense of being choice, best, a formal standard. But I don't think they are elitist in the sense of being written or performed only for a select few who are rich, upper class, or formally educated. Composers, musicians, performers of all kinds want to reach the widest possible audience. It doesn't happen today for performance of opera because of the incredible competition from television-led pop culture.
Still, there is a vital and viable core of opera lovers from every cultural, economic, and generational group.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I enjoy listening to the show tunes and jazz Renée has recorded so far. My husband, a long time lover of jazz, heard her radio hour with Illinois Jacquet and raved. With careful choice of songs and the right instrumental group a jazz disc will be great listening. Her own wit, love, and fun in the project are key. And a whole new audience of worshippers are likely to result.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
To the point of extinction? No. But when there is only one FM radio station playing classical music in a large metro area, it doesn't look too good. Since what sells at the box office is violence, sex, and car chases; and we know there is plenty of the first two in opera;is there a clever team that can get those motors roaring? Okay. Maybe that would be the end the art.


Date: 03/25/2004 06:05:23 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
If eleitist means high quality, yes. If it means inaccessble to people not from a specific background, I would say no.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

To be honest, I think there is limited value in classical musicians doing pop music. They rarely do them as well as pop stars. But perhaps as an encore, for a bit of fun, what's the harm?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I wish Opera was a bit more endangered, then it would be easier to get tickets for Covent Garden! Tonight's concert at the Royal Festival Hall didn't look endangered!

No, I don't - I look around at the audience and see a whole age range, and I know that people have large classical collections


Name: Thomas Mann
Profession: Teacher
Date: 03/25/2004 03:56:06 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. I love opera, and I come from a working class background. I am a teacher in a small private school (translation=low salary). I am certainly not one of the "elite".

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I am personally not an advocate of opera singers doing pop music. I don't feel that a classically-trained voice lends itself well to pop material. But that's just my opinion.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Unfortunately, yes to both. Without more government funding, opera companies are forced to raise ticket prices which then become increasingly unaffordable for the average person.


Date: 03/25/2004 01:41:57 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
If imbued with great artistry and feeling, it can touch people from different walks of life in a very intimate way.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Are you implying that popular music is not serious???Classical music requires greater technical preparation to execute at an optimum level; however, music of all genres can touch the listener if the singer is one with the song and gives of himself or herself. Isn't that what is important, to touch people's hearts?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
In this hectic world, there is much that claims people's attention, but there will always be those who find classical music interesting and perhaps intriguing even among the young and up and coming.

Opera is being made more accessible with subtitles etc. When I attand performances I see a fair percentage of young people in the audience.

No neither one is dying. Perhaps there is a metamorphosis taking place, however one does not need to derobe on stage to capture a wider audience.


Date: 03/25/2004 01:35:03 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Any one who does not enjoy opera, does not understand the art of singing.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

In my opinion, Renee can sing anything, because everything she does is done with such great understanding of the language. She sings with every fibre of her being. She is so honest and true to her art. She has a feeling for whatever language she is singing in. On Tuesday evening, I was at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, where for one of her encores, she sang, "Somewhere over the rainbow", and it was magical!Edinburgh embraced her!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
With Renee (and others)coming to lots of venues to let her fans hear and appreciate her beautiful voice live...with radio stations, like Classic FM, playing requests for her CD's over and over again...with Scottish Opera going out to schools to involve primary-school children in opera...things have to be improving gradually.


Date: 03/25/2004 01:14:59 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
not at all

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

she has a voice that can sing anything; so why not?

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No and No


Date: 03/25/2004 10:20:10 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think it is becoming more "elitist" but not in a good definition of the word. Opera used to be about making beautiful music through recordings and on stage. If you had a beautiful, trained voice people came to hear you, not look at you; as in the pop music culture. Now it is becoming all about looks, and connections, and not about the talent per se. This is making it very pretentious and elitist in a negative sense, and it is why I sadly gave up pursuing opera as a career. I could not accept that mentality or the egos it created as a result. I want to hear a beautiful voice in classical music. I don't care what the person looks like. I know I'm in the modern day minority, but there are those that thankfully still feel as I do.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I know she has sung Jazz, and I actually have a Joe Jackson CD where she is the female vocalist. It is beautiful. If I think if she went in any other direction I, and my friends who are avid fans of hers, would not accept it or buy the cds. Why do people always try to "fix" what isn't broken? We have seen opera stars in the past move to popular music and for some it killed their popularity, it wasn't acceptable by their fan base. Build on what works best.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
As I stated in question one- I feel that if it keeps going in the direction it's going in that it will burn itself out completely. Emphasis on "looks" (look what just happened to Deborah Voigt! Horrific and cruel!), outrageous ticket prices for concerts and opera. It's becoming too "pop culture" in many respects. People who appreciate classical music and opera expect to thrilled with dynamic voices, personalities and performances. Going back to the new shallowness of the art- There are many "pretty faces" in the world, but if you don't have the talent to back it up, your audience becomes bored and moves on. Renee Fleming is an exception. Her technique is flawless, her interpretation is impeccable. And after that she is a beautiful woman. But I still want to hear voices like Deborah Voigt, Jane Eglan, Alessandra Marc...I pick these women because they are modern day divas who are doubtless penalized because they don't look like a Renee Fleming.


Name: Richard Bolton
Profession: Counsellor
Date: 03/25/2004 05:30:14 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Only by virtue of the cost of concert/ opera tickets.
I'd call it an exclusive art form.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think it is for Renee to chose what she wants to sing. My only concern would be if her choices are dictated by the music "business" i.e. promoters (see below).

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
It worries me that market forces dictate the "dumbing down" of classical music. The fact that record companies promote the "sexiest" artists rather than those with the greatest musical integrity (I don't include Renee in this) can only endanger the art form. I'm not against popularising classical music so long as that doesn't involve lowering musical standards. However standards are increasingly being lowered and that can only damage the music.


Name: chris simpson
Profession: surgeon
Date: 03/25/2004 05:29:08 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

one of the few classical singers who can sing jazz/popular songs I think she should continue

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
no look at the success of classic fm radio in the UK opera mmm not so secure


Name: mel williams
Profession: classical music buyer for retail store
Date: 03/24/2004 10:09:40 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
i think that because opera is in a foreign languege, it is a
challenge for some people to listen to. also, lack of education in schools, people's non exposure, are the main reason that people don't listen to opera.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

personally, i like whatever she sings. i can't wait for her to record her first jazz cd. i just hope that she does'nt hold anything back, and sings straigt ahead, as oppose to a pop oriented style. she certainly has the talent sing jazz the way some of her earlier influences, like sarah vaughn. most importlantly, don't forget to throw in some high notes. n

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
no i think opera is not an edagered art form.


Name: Noreen O'Reilly
Profession: Elementary school teacher
Date: 03/24/2004 09:56:45 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I do not think that opera/classical music is an elitist art form. I think that many people are just not exposed to it at an early age. Therefore, it is foreign to their ears. Many people are "afraid" of something they are not used to.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would like for her to record a jazz album. But popular music, (like top 40 ) no. Although I do listen to that music also, but her voice is too good for top 40!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think opera is more of an endangered art form than classical music. It is rarely taught in school. Classical music is taught more than opera in elementary/high school. People are just not exposed enough to it at an early age. If children were exposed to going on field trips to classical concerts and operas, they would appreciate it more as adults.


Date: 03/24/2004 07:05:04 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think because it generally appeals to and is supported by a certain sort of person it might be perceived that way by people who have not bothered to give it a chance and feel threatened by something they don't know about. Obviously it is different everywhere but in England where I live and studied it is very much enjoyed and pursued career-wise by a pretty well educated sort of person but that is probably considered very un PC to make a statement like that!!!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Of course it is totally up to her, if she enjoys and feels fulfilled by branching out into other genres then she should but I don't think that opera singers generally manage to do cross over sucessfully all the time. Once the human voice has been trained in the operatic way it is such a specific sound that I don't think you can ever get rid of it even if you try really hard to. (this is not a judgement on Renee as I have not actually heard her doing cross over) Personally it is not my cup of tea but it might be for other people and if they start listening to her opera recordings because of first having listened to her more popular ones then that is great.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think sadly that opera will be a dying art form if the younger generation don't support it and carry it forward. So many opera audiences around the world are older and I don't know if that is because people generally start to enjoy it once they are a bit more mature or whether the younger generation nowadays are just not interested. I think if we had composers around today who wrote operas as beautiful as some of the ones written hundreds of years ago it would not be a problem but operas written nowadays can be very heavy going on the ear. Usually the singers and people involved enjoy them because they have got to know them very well through the rehearsal process but the audiences might feel very differently.


Date: 03/24/2004 01:04:23 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
The perception of elitism as it pertains to musical appreciation is based on cultural and educational experiences. I am an incredibly average individual, who drives a great, big truck for a living and the general perception, based on first impressions, is that truck drivers only listen to "country music." Imagine the surprise when I roll down the highways with Opera Music, blasting from the speakers! A simpler answer to the question is, Opera and Classical Music is for everyone.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

As a talented and prolific artist, RF is more than qualified to perform any genre of music. I surmise the reason for asking this question is because of some unflattering media attention by individuals who regard themselves as expert by their critical opinions. Your gift of music is and always will be appreciated by your audience.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not necessarily endangered but rather under appreciated. Musical and popular tastes are cyclical. There will always be individuals who will choose Opera and Classical Music over the popular offerings. The problem I perceive is the marketing of Classical and Opera Music. Record companies are cutting costs by removing Classical/Opera performers and replacing these performers with "crossover artists." This is similar to comparing a diamond with a cubic zircona.....there is NO comparison.


Date: 03/24/2004 11:25:40 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
NO!! Lots of people from lower income households attend opera. I am one of them.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

No, stick with Mozart, Strauss, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner. Renee's voice is perfect for Mozart and Strauss in particular. Don't spoil it with popular songs.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes, especially opera. Go to any opera house and you will see that a vast number of opera goers are elderly people.


Name: Marilyn Dunford.
Profession: switchboard operator
Date: 03/24/2004 09:39:25 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No - not now that we have easier access via radio/tv, but I would like to see Renee on British TV more often. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to get to the concerts unless they are here in the UK.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I have just returned from Birmingham and Edingburgh where I had the privelege to meet her after both concerts.I adored "Over the Rainbow" and hope that she will record it soon, also "Amazing Grace" but in the main I think that she should definitely stay more with the classical. I am eagerly awaiting the Baroque recordings.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, but I think that it should be given more priority in our state schools with our young people having more opportunities if they so wish.


Name: Neil Davis
Profession: Credit Card Manager
Date: 03/24/2004 08:57:12 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No. It is available to all. The problem is that these days few people naturally get exposed to any sort of classical music. There is very little in the state schools and even less in the tabloid newspapers or on mainstream television.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I would prefer Renee to stick to classical music, as there is so much still left for her to sing.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes. For the reasons mentioned above, and the fact that the popular perception is that classical music is old fashioned, stuffy and 'uncool'. Even more so Opera


Name: Penny Ferguson
Profession: Administrator
Date: 03/24/2004 07:54:11 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
absolutely not!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It must be fun for her.....years of study and dedication make us all a bit tired....I would not buy this particular choice of music....Leave it to the greats of that field

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
alas, it appears so....My prayer is that there will be parents who are not too tired to fight the governmental school system, where the arts are the first to go in a money crunch, not the overpaid bureaucrats


Name: Christopher Brooks
Profession: full-time student
Date: 03/24/2004 05:54:11 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
While often perceived to be this way, opera and classical music are not really elitist art forms. I am a person of modest means, yet I am able to find affordable ways of experiencing live opera via standing room tickets, student rush tickets, as well as vocal recitals. I suppose that the average person might not be aware of these options or the variety of ways to experience classical music. There are also excellent performances done at the local level, which tend to be less expensive than major opera companies. I do believe that newcomers to opera should be exposed to the highest quality type of performance to avoid misconceptions about opera's true potential.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee should sing whatever with which she feels she can make an impact. I have occasionally felt that Renee tries too hard sometimes with popular music and should try to keep it at a simpler level. The type of expressive nuance that one might need for classical music does not always carry directly to popular music. Because there are so few sopranos of Renee's caliber today, I think she can make the greatest contribution in the field of classical music. There are plenty of jazz stylists out there but not as many singers with the technique, musicianship, and expressive power as Renee Fleming in the classical repertoire.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I'm not sure that classical music as a whole is endangered, but I do believe that opera is. The classical recording industry, especially opera recording, has been going downhill for quite sometime. The firing of singers like Deborah Voigt simply because of their weight indicates a certain trend in consumer taste. Many people are closed minded about opera due to their own misconceptions. I think the media is general is becoming much more visually-oriented.


Name: Roger Wallén
Profession: Accountant
Date: 03/24/2004 03:22:04 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She should hold on to oepra and serious music! NO cross-over!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
NO!
NO!


Name: Nathan West
Profession: music theory grad student
Date: 03/24/2004 12:53:30 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
It's tempting to jump to the conclusion that opera is an elitist art form because the people who take an interest in it tend to be from the upper stratum of society (educated professionals, women in furs, etc.). But there's more to it than that. Everyone, from lowly migrant worker to investment banker, can find deep emotional resonance in an aria like Vissi D'arte or Marietta's Lied. The problem is that today bubble-gum pop music sabatoges people's musical tastes at such an early age that there's little room for anything else later on in life, especially since pop music comes embedded in a whole sexual context that leaves people craving more. So the simple beauty of a golden operatic throat goes unappreciated. As people start to see the triviality and vanity of pop culture, the deep heart required for opera will come into shape and yearn for it. That is perhaps the difference: to appreciate opera requires a certain "deep-heart" sensitivity that the superficiality of pop culture makes hard to cultivate.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee's interpretation of "popular" music moves me deeply. It is a transcendent experience to hear all her operatic training and sensibilities, not too mention her unaffected flair for the blues, descend upon a familiar melody and make it sparkle. I will never forget a version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that Renee performed at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia last December. "Morgen" and the Massennet were moving, but "Rainbow" was ingenious. Also, "River" by Jonie Mitchell on NPR's Christmas show last year was sheer perfection. I think it would be in Renee's best interests to release an album of her jazz/blues interpretations, and to do it unabashedly, whithout worrying about the classical music nay-sayers. Music is music is music. That's why classical will always survive, but it's also what makes taking the material of other genres and redefining it a worthwhile endeavor. It's all music, and while no genre is inherently "better" than another, it is a treat to hear the "deep-heart" of an opera singer propel the honesty of pop music.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
It will certainly diminish, in my opinion, if its performers hold themselves above performers of other genres. That will only squeeze opera into a tiny little crack of the music business until it vanishes altogether. If they're fluid, however, and recognize what's legitimate about pop music (while making it oh so nicer, what with their operatic heart and all) then classical music has a sure and exciting future. And, it might even attract people who would otherwise aspire to a pop music career. Renee, go for it!


Name: Stephen Lee
Profession: lawyer
Date: 03/23/2004 02:34:21 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
no

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I think she should do more serious and esoteric choices. I saw her in Alcinia in Chicago and am looking forward to seeing Rosalinda at the Met in December. I also enjowed Il Pirata. She is one of the few artists who can get the Met to do new productions. There is a lot of great bel canto operas out there that have never been done at the Met.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
no for both


Name: Robert Graham
Date: 03/23/2004 01:26:35 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I`d like to ask a little more about what you mean by the terms. With modern recording and video everyone can access it in some form so in that sense it is not. Everyone who has an ear and a heart can respond to its beauty whether or not he or she is educated so also in that sense it is not. The fact that much of the public take that view (that it is elitist)is not the fault of opera or musicians. Of course many opera performances are expensive but so are many football matches. It is true that to get the fullest pleasure one should make an effort to find out more about the composer, the background, the language, but that should be a pleasure and a privilege. The rewards are immense. The fact that Renee is a beautiful woman as well as an immensely gifted one might soften some hostile cries.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I`m quite happy to hear her sing popular music but for me she is special ( at times I want to say unique) when she performs Richard Strauss , Catalani etc.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
We have Classic FM on the radio in this country and that has been immensely popular. It has also introduced many people to great music. Nietzsche said `without music life is absurd` and for many people that is true. There is a great trend towards vulgarising television,literature etc., but quality still attracts. Opera may have to consider new forms but the world needs its beauty more than ever. Sadly, many children are told at an early age that classical music is `heavy` ,`boring` etc. so some don`t readily open their mind, but many are struck later on by this immense treasure house and perhaps appreciate it more for that reason.


Date: 03/23/2004 08:06:54 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I agree with those who say it is an expensive form but anyone can enjoy it on the various radio programmes and in particular from the classical radio programmes. So, while there may be a perception out there that it is an elitist art form I do not belive it is. I was introduced to Opera when I was at school by a good friend whose mother had two spare tickets for a performance of Mozart's Idomeno - perhaps not the best introduction to opera for a school girl, but I have never looked back!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Renee Fleming has the most wonderful voice for opera and other classical music. While I enjoy her singing popular and light opera and indeed jazz I feel she should focus her attention on opera and recitals since she does them so well. I first heard her in Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London two years ago and had never heard of her before. It was truly a superb performance. I heard her at the Albert Hall about a year ago with Bryn Terfel, and was not at all happy with some of the so called cross over numbers she sang. However, after seeing her in Russalka at the Royal Opera House last summer all was forgiven! Her performance at the Metropolitan Opera in La Traviata last October was quite superb and I have just returned from hearing her recital at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham which was absolutely wonderful. I hope to get to Paris in June for a weekend and to take in her performance in Capriccio. Stick to the more serious classical music Renee - you are quite superb at it!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do not believe that classical music is an endangered art form because even though very young people appear to be in to pop music they often come around to classical music later in life. The concert halls of the world are always busy. In general there appears to be a great demand for opera and there are very few capital cities in Europe that do not have a dedicated opera house and indeed opera company. In my country, Ireland, there are hundreds of young people studying classical music and opera in particular, and for a small country Ireland has produced some great singers like Anne Murray, Suzanne Murphy, and some who are based in German opera houses, We would hope that Ms. Fleming would some day perform in Dublin for her many Irish fans. I mentioned this to her in Birmingham and suggested she should perform at our National Concert Hall or at the Helix where people like Kiri Te Kanawa, Marilyn Horne etc. have performed.


Name: George F Burr
Profession: Retired schoolteacher
Date: 03/23/2004 06:41:20 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
The popular conception would be that it is elitist but not to devotees such as myself! However, financially it has become so, eg the high prices asked for by some theatre such as Covent Garden, make it difficult for many people of low incomes/students to attend live performances. Too often there are people in an audience who are there just because they have the money to buy a ticket and want "to go to the opera"!

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

This is a difficult question. My preference would be for her to stick to opera/classical song but, on the other hand, if her singing gives pleasure to others, then who am I to stop this? By listening to her singing popular songs they are quite likely to go on and appreciate opera!

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, am sure it is not endangered - great composers such as Mozart and Verdi will always continue to give pleasure. Likewise opera will survive although some modern trends in production can sometimes do damage!


Date: 03/23/2004 06:07:47 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
No

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I don't mind as long as she records a wide clasical repertory

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes. In Australia very much. If the recording industry is a barometer then internationally this is also the case.


Name: Khaleem Mohammed-Ali
Profession: Student
Date: 03/22/2004 09:50:47 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I don't feel that opera is an elitist art form. It's just an
expensive one, and one that tends to appeal to people who are
educated. (In this way, it may be an elite art, but not necessarily
an elitist art.) I'm a 22-year-old college student who has been an
opera buff for ten years, and it's not because my rich parents took
me to the opera. Instead, I discovered the art form in music class
at my elementary school, where we learned melodies of famous
classical and operatic works. I sought out inexpensive recordings
and, later, discounted tickets to performances, until I became, a few
years later, a subscriber to the opera and the symphony.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

As for Ms. Fleming, she is one of our great singers and I would like
to see her continue her career as the leading American soprano. It
would be a mistake, I feel, for her to concentrate too heavily on
popular music, because the results are mixed. I look forward to her
Daphne, Countess Madeleine, Rodelinda, Semiramide, and other new
roles in upcoming seasons. I am also excited about the various
lieder and other songs that she will add to her repertoire over the
coming years.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
As a young person I have seen at my university and at others that
there is great interest in opera and classical music among young
people, not to mention legions of college professors. I used to run
an intellectual/cultural group, and we took a trip to the opera last
semester. The demand exceeded my expectations--Twenty students
promptly paid $11 each to attend a local production of La Traviata!
It was so popular that the new president of the group is doing it
again this semester, with Turandot. So, the interest is there, but
more needs to be done to use resources to broaden opera audiences.

Classical music and opera are in no danger at all. If anything,
there is more interest than there has ever been. I am excited by the
numbers of young people who are interested in learning more about
this kind of music, and who are eager to attend performances. We
need to do more to make such opportunities available to them. Far
from being effete, opera is a vibrant art form today, and I must say
that this was not the case even a few years ago. The public
perception of opera is evolving in a positive way.


Name: Mark Francis Tempesta
Profession: Student
Date: 03/22/2004 05:41:34 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Being an aspiring classical musician, i may be biased, however, I do not consider Opera or Classical music to be elitist per se, rather it is an artform that demands complete mastery from each and every performer who intends to make their career in that field, more so than other forms of music. Opera and Classical music require such devotion and mastery that to those that lack the talent or the commitment to attain it may consider the art form elitist. It is however, not.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I cannot deny it would be interesting to hear Renee singing popular tunes, if for nothing else than to hear what her voice would sound like with less than operatic technique.

However, I know from my own experience that singing popular music with the correct style requires a dumbing down of technique that often persists afterwards. Mrs. Fleming's technique is infinitely more fine tuned than my own, thus making it that much easier to de-calibrate.

It would be risky, and I love Renee Fleming's voice too much to condone her risking developing technical problems that could have effects on her voice in the long term.

That said, there is still the fact that singing popular music would reach a much much larger audience and hopefully that would add to the general classical audience.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Yes. Although classical music and Opera thrive today, compared to the much larger world of pop culture and music, it is dwarfed, and at risk of being entirely shoved out of the way.

Consider 100 years ago the esteem a world class Soprano was given by the general public. Consider today. Indeed, even in comic comercials or television programming, Operatic Sopranos are depicted as load and obnoxious freaks.

The only solution I can see is an attempt to make classical music and Opera not only more accessible to the public, but seem more a part of mainstream culture in ordered to increase the audience size. Although a broader better thought out advertisement scheme could help significantly, perhaps having Operatic singers perform popular music to establish a larger following could help most. Indeed, this relates to the last question about Renee performing popular music. Perhaps putting out a popular CD that appeals to the current public's tastes, and then putting out hybrid CD's --those with both pure Opera and popular crossover tracks -- would help strengthen the classical audience.


Name: Iliana Doytcheva
Profession: Architect
Date: 03/22/2004 05:03:31 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I would not say so. In fact it is the most accessible and easy to understand form of classical music as a hybrid of music & theatre.
The problem is that for many reasons fewer people are being exposed to it and thus be able to appreciate and enjoy it.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

It is OK from time to time if she enjoys it.
In my opinion she does not have to waste her precious talent and time for anything else but opera.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Not at all. With all the means of communication nowadays everybody has more information and access to live performances and recordings.
On the other hand people tend to forget popular music in several years or in a generation but enjoy classical/ opera for centuries.


Name: Internationale Künstleragentur Berlin
Profession: Künstleragentur
Date: 03/22/2004 04:03:45 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
das von uns vertretene Berliner KammerOrchester möchte gerne ein Konzert in der Saison 2005/2006 mit Renee Fleming in Wolfsburg geben. Ich selber habe Frau Fleming in der Deutschen Oper Berlin bei ihrem Liederabend erleben dürfen. Dieser Abend hat mir sehr gut gefallen. Ich würde gerne anfragen, zu welchen Bedingungen Frau Flemin in einem Konzert in Wolfsburg mitwirken könnte und ferner noch anfragen, ob Frau Fleming sich eine Mitwirkung beim Classic open Air 2005 auf dem Berliner Gendarmenmarkt vorstellen könnte. Hier noch unsere Anschrift. Internationale Künstleragentur Berlin, Bergholzstrasse 11, D-12099 Berlin, TE-Mail Utzschneider01@aol.com

Vielen Dank und herzliche Grüsse aus Berlin


Date: 03/22/2004 02:08:35 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think the perception exists generally, and I believe the cause is the relatively large amount of time and effort that is generally required to appreciate what is valuable about opera. I imagine what happens is, people see opera being enjoyed, make some small effort to understand it, but for many reasons, they fail to grasp its full merit. Still needing a way to explain the devotion opera sometimes inspires, they are prone to explain it as simply a social distinction (and I think many people do use opera for this purpose), and they label opera 'elitist' in their minds as something without intrinsic value, something whose main function is to demark the lines between their group and the rest of society. They fail to grasp that the distinction between those who like opera and those who don't, is a side-effect and not the purpose.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

Depends on what kind of popular music. If the music has some of the richness, underlying complexity and order which makes classical music great to me, then I wouldn't be disappointed, but if it's banal and leaves little to be appreciated besides what's on the surface, I would.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, I think that there will be crests and troughs in the popularity of classical music and opera, and we may currently be at a trough or a crest, I'm not sure about that. However, I am convinced that classical music and opera can resonate with people in a way few other artforms can, and this resonance will ensure its continued existence.


Name: Barbara Nicholls
Profession: Retired company director
Date: 03/22/2004 02:02:46 PM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
I think this is a judgemental question and not relevant and therefore I cannot answer it.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I am very happy that Renée sings popular music as I enjoy listening to that as well as some opera and some serious music. I feel that artists are entitled to interpret music in what they feel is a worthwhile manner and to their satisfaction and audiences at live concerts have shown that they like the lighter music too that Renée sings on those occasions.
However I am not an opera or concert goer and my opinions are made from listening to CDs and reading reviews of those and opera/concert performances....

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do not think Classical music is an endangered art form though current scarcity of music tuition in schools will mean children may come later to loving and appreciating it..
Regarding operas the ones with wonderful melodies will last but some modern ones may not..


Name: JR Donasco
Profession: Student
Date: 03/22/2004 11:50:19 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Absolutely not.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I adore her in operatic roles, but it's great that an artist of Ms. Fleming's caliber has the time (and ability) to venture out in other repertoires.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
Miss Fleming IS the reason why Opera will never be (assuming Ms. Fleming's voice to last forever) obsolete.


Name: Juan Duarte Cuadrado
Profession: Diplomat
Date: 03/22/2004 11:37:48 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Of course not, neither of them is an elitist art form.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I love Renée's voice and her musicianship. I would like to have the chance to know her insights in jazz music but I honestly think that being the greatest Prima Donna of her time she should concentrate in the classical repertoire.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do not think that Classical Music or Opera are endangered art forms. You just have to try to get a ticket to a performance of any first rate classical artist to realize how big people's interest in both art forms is.


Date: 03/22/2004 11:06:01 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not at all

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

She can sing anything as far as I am concerned

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I think it is becoming more popular


Name: Mete Civelek
Profession: PhD student at the U. of Pennsylvania
Date: 03/22/2004 10:15:31 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Although I do not believe opera is an elistist art form, the perception of the general public is that it is elitist. This is mostly because of the inaccesibility of opera for most of the general public. The major opera houses are in urban areas and the ticket prices are very expensive. Although there are cheap tickets available, the cost of running an opera company is very high and therefore there is not much funding for marketing and advertising for these cheap tickets.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

First of all I do not believe opera is an esoteric choice. I do not want Renee singing popular music. She is highly trained in opera and she is the finest soprano in the world today. Withe her celebrity status I think she can achieve what Pavarotti achieve. She should try to reach the masses by "popularizing" her beautiful art. This doesn't mean she shouldn't sing popular music from time to time but it would be painful for us, her fans, to see her leaving the operatic stage.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
I do not believe at all. There are so many concertgoers. Opera is probably doesn't reach as many people simple because it is harder and more expensive to stage an opera than playing a symphonic piece. I think the opera companies should reach to the younger generation. For instance the Met has $25 tickets for students for select performances. The Philadelphia Opera Company sells $5 tickets to students starting 2 hours prior to the performances. These are wonderful opportunities for the young generation to acquaint themselves to classical music and opera. These kind of opportunities must be highly advertised though to their targeted audiences.


Date: 03/22/2004 09:42:05 AM


Do you think that Opera / Classical Music is an elitist art form?
Not inherently so, but it has become that in American society. We view opera as something for the rich, and the high cost of viewing it in the US makes it into an elitist activity. But it doesn't need to be and isn't in many other countries. As a nation, we need to take cultural education a little more seriously and increase the outreach toward younger segements of the population.

How do you feel about Renée singing popular music?
Or would they like her to stick with serious and more esoteric choices?

I'm not crazy about Renée or any other operatically trained voice singing popular music, except perhaps as the occasional encore. I'd rather hear her sing music written for operatic voices.

Do you think Classical Music is an endangered art form? What about Opera?
No, both will always be around, but the forms hrough which we experience them will certainly change as the mainstream media outlets continue to dumb down what they offer.


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