March 22, 2004

It Ain't Over 'Til. . .

The London Royal Opera House recently fired Rubenesque American soprano Deborah Voigt from a role in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos that would have required her to wear a small black evening dress. This has led to some interesting but predictable hand-wringing over merit versus looks. After all, isn't opera all about the music?

Well, no, not exactly. This article cites a couple of good reasons that an opera company may legitimately exclude a plus-sized singer: if the role calls for a starving or sickly character (such as Mimi in La Boheme), or if the staging calls for active movements (say, up and down stairs on stage).

[Warning! Gratuitous name-dropping moment: please note the mention in the Miami Herald piece of my childhood friend Laura Claycomb, a rising star in the opera world, with whom I had the pleasure of singing and touring in my old church's youth choir back in the mid-1980s].

This debate calls to mind last year's blog coverage of the report that good-looking college professors score higher on course evaluations than the more homely.

Posted by JohnL at March 22, 2004 07:54 PM
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