Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Argument For Why Opera Should Be Elite and For Snobs?

Ms. Jenkins sings for the masses
In an article for The Spectator titled "Let's Hear it For Eliticism" writer Michael Henderson takes a look at the current crop of "opera singers," including Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins, who think that the art form should be for the masses but has been far too long confined to the intellectually elite: "As for Miss Jenkins, has any singer benefited quite so obviously from the technology of the modern recording studio? Unfazed by the absence of any discernible talent, this decorous lightweight has entered the realm of fantasy: one day, apparently, she wants to give the world her Carmen! Imagine if a club cricketer told his team-mates that he intended to open the bowling for England against Australia at Lord’s, and you have some measure of the lady’s self-delusion. Mr Boe and Miss Jenkins may consider themselves to be opera singers who have been snubbed by snobs. In the real world of opera, which, oddly
Mr. Boe amps up the voice
enough, is more interested in the exploration of high talent than media manipulation of pretty boys and girls, they are regarded as no more than end-of-pier crooners. If this bedraggled group ever gathered under a single banner, it would probably read: opera for the masses! But opera was never intended to be a mass activity. You may as well demand ballet for the masses, theatre for the masses, or even jazz for the masses. Some things are more difficult than others, and cutting them into bite-sized chunks for the benefit of the incurious will not make them more digestible. Opera, thank goodness, is the enemy of accessibility. It can only prosper if there is an elite, based on the honing of skills and a capacity for hard work. In that regard it is like top-level sport, the main difference being that fans of Premier League football
Together as judges on "Popstar to Opera Star"
clubs spend far more money following their hobby in the course of a year than most opera-goers spend on theirs. If this is ‘elitism’, let’s hear three hearty cheers." [Source] For a sampling of the sonically enhanced capabilities of the soprano and tenor, check out a performance from the Brit Awards after the jump.


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