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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    It's interesting to note that the reviews in the two German opera magazines to which I subscribe seldom make negative references to a singer's appearance, and then do so in a pretty mild fashion and make it clear that the objection is specifically related to the character's credibility. A woman singing the role of a young girl or a seductress might be described as rather too "matronly" to be fully believable, and Johan Botha's restricted ability to move around have been mentioned on a few occasions. As a rule, if the reviews do comment on a singer's appearance, it's in a positive manner -- a young and attractive Brünnhilde, for example, or a tenor's handsomeness adding to the overall credibility of his portrayal.

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    The Opera Today review carefully avoids any reference to Tara's physique (and to her singing, for that matter), which is made even more conspicuous by the fact that they don't fail to mention Kate Royal's.

    "Kate Royal, a perennial house favourite, won great applause. She’s so beautiful she seems almost too idealized for the part, but I liked the wry grit with which she sang her final benediction to Octavian and Sophie. Tara Erraught’s Octavian was robustly acted with earthy glee."

    [clicky]
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    The June issue of Das Opernglas arrived yesterday afternoon, and as I was leafing through it, I received quite a surprise. Jonas Kaufmann and his wife, mezzo Margarete Joswig, have separated. Evidently, a very brief statement was issued by the couple back in April which said nothing more than that they'd agreed to separate. I was totally astonished by the news as well as very saddened. Their marriage had always seemed to be quite happy and stable, and his family clearly seemed to be important to him. I guess this simply proves that no outsider can ever really judge the dynamics of a relationship. I feel sorry for them and their children, and hope everything will work out for the best -- including reconciliation, if that is what's best.

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    The June issue of Das Opernglas arrived yesterday afternoon, and as I was leafing through it, I received quite a surprise. Jonas Kaufmann and his wife, mezzo Margarete Joswig, have separated. Evidently, a very brief statement was issued by the couple back in April which said nothing more than that they'd agreed to separate. I was totally astonished by the news as well as very saddened. Their marriage had always seemed to be quite happy and stable, and his family clearly seemed to be important to him. I guess this simply proves that no outsider can ever really judge the dynamics of a relationship. I feel sorry for them and their children, and hope everything will work out for the best -- including reconciliation, if that is what's best.
    Oh dear, that is very sad, for them and particularly their children.

    Of course operatic marriages are often subject to a lot of strain, particularly when you have one partner travelling and the other at home with the children ( and I would imagine, in all honesty, that with Jonas being so attractive there would be added strain).
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Oh dear, that is very sad, for them and particularly their children.

    Of course operatic marriages are often subject to a lot of strain, particularly when you have one partner travelling and the other at home with the children ( and I would imagine, in all honesty, that with Jonas being so attractive there would be added strain).
    The odious Rupert Christiansen tweeted the news with what seemed like glee and then asked ladies to form an orderly queue. He was condemned by many fans, not just Jonas fans, for his tasteless comment and eventually he deleted the tweet.
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    The odious Rupert Christiansen tweeted the news with what seemed like glee and then asked ladies to form an orderly queue. He was condemned by many fans, not just Jonas fans, for his tasteless comment and eventually he deleted the tweet.
    Sometimes I think that media types forget that there are REAL HUMAN BEINGS behind all these relationship stories and that any break-up, particularly one involving children, carries its quota of pain with it.
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    The odious Rupert Christiansen tweeted the news with what seemed like glee and then asked ladies to form an orderly queue. He was condemned by many fans, not just Jonas fans, for his tasteless comment and eventually he deleted the tweet.
    That's appalling. Given his nasty comments about Tara Erraught, I have to wonder what's with that guy. Terminal tastelessness, I suppose.

    I also came upon a story (online) in a German publication that headlined the story with the word "Scheidung" (divorce). Talk about leaping to conclusions. The couple has separated -- which may eventually lead to divorce, but also may not.

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  13. #1148
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Just in case anyone is confused:



    (Credit to Melanie Spector)
    Last edited by Soave_Fanciulla; May 31st, 2014 at 10:02 PM.
    Natalie

  14. #1149
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Met on edge of precipice?

    I agree with the final paragraph.

    "Where is opera being taught in public schools? I don't know of any place, certainly not in America. I think that's pervading the rest of the world as well. Children are brought up to be technological wizards and to have the attention spans of mice. How do you educate them to like opera, which takes three or four hours, and which is in a foreign language? As long as governments are not interested in arts education, I think we're in a catch-22 situation. How can we possibly hope to create new audiences for this art form if we're not introducing children to it or educating them?"

    I often think that it would be great if popular TV depicted an ordinary family who loved opera. They could be shown explaining to their friends that you don't have to dress up, it doesn't have to be expensive and you don't have to know a foreign language. The idea would be planted in the minds of thousands of people.
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Interesting article, Annie. One hopes that Gelb's dire warnings are at least partly a negotiating ploy against the unions. Still, the Met's dwindling attendance figures, and looming bankruptcy, are disheartening. Good to know that ROH and ENO are doing better, but they have more state support and lower salaries in their favor.

    It's a changing world. One can only guess how (or if) opera will find its next generation of fans.

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    The odious Rupert Christiansen tweeted the news with what seemed like glee and then asked ladies to form an orderly queue. He was condemned by many fans, not just Jonas fans, for his tasteless comment and eventually he deleted the tweet.
    What an idiot! Please someone put him out of his misery!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  19. #1152
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Their marriage had always seemed to be quite happy and stable, and his family clearly seemed to be important to him. I guess this simply proves that no outsider can ever really judge the dynamics of a relationship.
    Yes, unfortunately we can't judge the real condition of a celebrity's relationship, given that for public relations sake they need to always present a happy facade. Case in point, handsome Brazilian soccer player Kaka and his pretty wife were high school sweethearts, supposedly profoundly in love with each other, and were considered to be the ideal couple in that environment, with two beautiful children, and plenty of "happy family" pictures. Now they have separated, and it turned out that the "happy family" portrays were contractual: they had been hired by a corporation to advertise household products, and one of the articles in the contract was that they needed to show a happy family life in all media and pictures for as long as the advertisement campaigns lasted (under millions of dollars in penalties if they breached the contract), so not to give to consumers a conflicting scene - the ads on TV showed them interacting as a family and using the corporation's products so they shouldn't distract consumers with their real life booboos.

    While this case of JK doesn't go to such extremes, all these PR departments that manage singers' careers are always trying to sell the most wholesome image possible, and they usually deny and deny any glitches until it can't be hidden any longer.

    The reality seems to be much grimmer, with singers being a category with one of the highest rates of divorce. This was the topic of one of our interviews with a singer (Michael Spyres, if I'm not mistaken) who described the high rate of infidelity when you are alone in a hotel room thousands of miles from a family you only see in short stretches several months apart, and you and the attractive person you've been kissing on stage both feel lonely.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  20. #1153
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    Interesting article, Annie. One hopes that Gelb's dire warnings are at least partly a negotiating ploy against the unions. Still, the Met's dwindling attendance figures, and looming bankruptcy, are disheartening. Good to know that ROH and ENO are doing better, but they have more state support and lower salaries in their favor.

    It's a changing world. One can only guess how (or if) opera will find its next generation of fans.
    I don't buy Gelb's catastrophic predictions. I just heard him yesterday on Met Opera Radio talking about the negotiations with the 16 unions. It's obviously directed at them. Not long ago when union negotiations were not up, he gave another interview praising the fact that the Met had balanced its finances, and now he says that bankruptcy is imminent in two or three years? Most likely he is just telling these unions "do accept our terms or it won't matter because you'll be out of a job in two or three years."

    I think it is virtually impossible that the Met will die out. New York City is too strong an economic base with thousands of filthy rich people, and the institution is very much beloved.

    80% attendance figure is of concern (well, in selfish terms, I can't say I'm too displeased because it became easy to find seats at the last minute for just about anything which helps me because I live far away and often can't plan my trips to the Met too much in advance - in the past I had a problem with sold-out shows that I no longer have, hehehe; I know, despicable...) but the reasons to it are many - yes, probably the HD has been cannibalizing it a little, but I continue to strongly believe that it has a lot more to do with the sluggish economy which is finally showing signs of picking up again. Up to 2007 before the economic crisis, there wasn't any dwindling audience, and seven years is too short a span to attribute the shrinking of the audiences to a generational crisis.

    Economic downturns often have delayed effects in terms of consumer confidence. Once the economy fully recovers (only this month we reached the number of jobs that we had in 2007 - so, basically, we are back at those employment absolute numbers but with a population that grew, and we should have added 6 million more jobs to be on an equivalent level) I'm certain that people will feel more confident again in terms of committing disposable income to arts and entertainment.

    Before the economic crash people would buy a string of season tickets. Now people buy isolated tickets (they became the more frequent pattern in many opera houses) which accounts for a lot of the shrinking ticket sales. But my take is, the opera lover who used to buy season tickets is the same opera lover who now buys fewer, isolated tickets. It's not that the person stopped loving opera or died out. It's more like the person is afraid he or she won't be able to afford the full subscription. Once the economy fully recovers, there is no reason to think that the fans won't resume a season ticket-buying pattern.

    The Met, bankrupt? I doubt it. A much smaller institution, San Diego Opera, has just been rescued. If the Met were to declare bankruptcy, I'd expect a large number of philanthropists to step in. It's too beloved an institution to disappear in smoke.

    Besides, it's kind of too big to fail - a concept that is similar to the bailouts we saw during the economic collapse. If the Met were to close down, the ripple effect would be devastating to the American operatic environment. So, a rescue operation would involve a far larger base than just people who live in New York City.

    Nah, it's not going to happen. Peter Gelb is just trying to scare the unions.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 7th, 2014 at 02:39 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  21. #1154
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    You may well be right about the Met, Alma. But I still worry that the kind of issues faced by the Met may bring down smaller companies. If there really is a shortage of young people embracing opera, that can't bode well for the future.

  22. #1155
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    Met on edge of precipice?

    I agree with the final paragraph.

    "Where is opera being taught in public schools? I don't know of any place, certainly not in America. I think that's pervading the rest of the world as well. Children are brought up to be technological wizards and to have the attention spans of mice. How do you educate them to like opera, which takes three or four hours, and which is in a foreign language? As long as governments are not interested in arts education, I think we're in a catch-22 situation. How can we possibly hope to create new audiences for this art form if we're not introducing children to it or educating them?"

    I often think that it would be great if popular TV depicted an ordinary family who loved opera. They could be shown explaining to their friends that you don't have to dress up, it doesn't have to be expensive and you don't have to know a foreign language. The idea would be planted in the minds of thousands of people.
    Did I read correctly - that Met choristers earn $200,000/yr? No wonder there's trouble! I also believe I read that many/most Met stagehands earn over $100,000/yr. Talk about bloated! No wonder the Met was calling me 3 or 4 times a week for a donation.

    NYC is expensive, for sure, but certainly not more expensive than London - and there are still 4 boroughs other than Manhattan (not to mention New Jersey, Connecticut and upstate NY) where folks can live and send their kids to top public schools. Of course those European government subsidies go a long way toward keeping the foreclosure signs away... Those subsidies wouldn't happen here in a million years and even if federal/state/local governments had so much money they couldn't figure out how to spend it.

    I received an interesting letter from Washington Concert Opera (WCO) in response to my renewing my subscription the other day.

    For context, WCO performs in Lisner auditorium, belonging to George Washington University that housed the Washington Opera prior to the construction of the Kennedy Center. It's a medium sized venue with clear sight lines that is ideal for many different performers who likely couldn't fill the Kennedy Center. My seat is in the middle rear of the one balcony - my subscription for both performances next season (I Capulet e i Montecchi, w/Olga Peretyatko, Kate Lindsey and David Portillo and Strauss' Guntram w/Russell Thomas, Marjorie Owens and Tom Fox) next season cost $115 - same as last year.

    In short, the letter states that WCO had an outstanding year, with a 12% increase in the number of subscribers and a 24% increase in the number of single tickets sold over the past season - much higher than they have seen in years. They also say that most attendees are from the DC metro area, but others came from 21 states, from California to New Jersey. Part of the reason, they say, was the opportunity to see two rarely performed Verdi operas (I Masnadieri and Il Corsaro) with top casting: Masnadieri w/Russell Thomas and Lisa Oropesa and Corsaro w/Michael Fabiano and Tamara Wilson). I also would guess that inexpensive tickets, which probably are possible because of a likely non-union orchestra and no production costs and a reasonably sized auditorium also helps. Their casting is also a good deal more luxurious and thoughtful than recently has been the case at WNO (e.g., WNO fired Deborah Voigt from Tristan und Isolde a week before the performances because they didn't think she can handle the role any longer).

    WCO finishes by citing their community educational outreach efforts - which Peter Gelb wonders about - and which we have discussed here from time to time. I would guess that part of the difference between audience problems in NY vs no perceived problem in London and the European houses is there continues to not be much of an appreciation for art in the American population (witness the suggestion that Detroit sell off its art collection to help reduce its deficit - "who needs it?", my very bright and well educated niece and nephews), where in Europe art is much more a routine part of daily life.

    I'm sorry about that - I attached the letter, but don't know how to enlarge the file.
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