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“Traditionally, it isn’t over until the fat lady sings. But it seems it will soon be over for the singing fat lady.”
So opens a piece in The London newspaper The Independent concerning the slimmer and fitter brand of opera star now on the rise. The slenderizing of opera talent is the result–claims the article–of a younger audience expecting more than the static stand-and-deliver quality of old school tenors and sopranos.
So are we heading toward a world of supermodel Mimis? Are Pavarotti-sized powerhouses on the outs?
“I hope we don’t see that,” the article quotes John Allison, editor of Opera Magazine. “I hope we don’t see the end of the phrase ‘before the fat lady sings’ either, because there are some pieces that require singers to have a huge set of lungs and a big frame to go with it. If glamour and looks are hired before vocal ability, then you are heading for trouble.”
So what are your expectations when you go to an opera? Is it all about the voice? Or should opera have the same casting demands as musical theater? Is all of this a form of size-ism?