long nights at the opera & the writing desk
(also @Stuttgart: finally give her a full new “Capuleti”. For REASONS.)
I adore your predilection for Slav/East European singers. They’re been getting some flak since they’re being hired more widely and frequently in the Anglophonia (“they push everybody’s fees down because they sing for less”, for example… the old anti-immigration chestnut. And um Trebs “sings for less”?). I don’t think that ‘discourse’ exists in Germany, to its great credit.
Interesting – because it is not a category I am consciously aware of in my listening/blogging. There are so many excellent singers coming from Eastern European and central Asian traditions and because of the geographical closeness and accessibility, they move within the European opera circuit easily and I don’t perceive them as ‘different’ or ‘foreign’ – it’s opera, who could be foreign?
(there is less prominence of South American, African or Pacific Islander singers, in my impression, and of course there is an argument of whiteness and white-passing to be made, too)
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In my half century of listening, a number of arrivals, deep Slavic women’s voices among them. Also Canadians. And there weren’t many Asian opera singers in previous decades, not on recordings. We are starting to hear African talent, but agreed, the comparative absence of South Americans is surprising.
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Except perhaps for Mexico, which has representation (and has had at least since Domingo), probably thanks to the closeness to the US. And the odd Argentinian (Franco Fagioli… Leonardo Garcia Alarcon and his soprano partner…) The East Asians have probably had the most impressive growth of all the non-West European ethnicities lately, in vocal, orchestral and soloist, and as you say Fitz we’re beginning to see African talent too, which is all good news. There’s also the age thing. I was listening an interview with Renee Fleming the other day and she says she was surprised by the size of the crowds in her recitals in China – and that there were mostly the under-40s in the very long autograph lines. The kids are going, I discovered this music and neither my parents nor my grand-parents know much about it, so it’s going to be my own thing. Whereas in the US, she says, it’s “right, classical music, that’s what my grandparents used to listen to, so I won’t, we’ve moved on” etc.
Alarcón and Mariana Flores! Also Maria Cristina Kiehr in the Early Music scene… though she is one generation further up. Argentina is perhaps an exception? Urbanity, strong influence of European immigration…? On the international circuit, there is Florez (Peruvian), Gonzalez (Guatemalan)… in Europe, I recall Rebeca Olvera in Zurich, who is Mexican, I believe. That I have trouble naming nationalities probably illustrates that it is something I usually don’t pay much attention to.
Not to say that it’s a harmonious place where origin doesn’t matter, there is racism and discrimination and a lot of class issues mixed in, in both directions.
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