Mezzo Watch #2: Vesselina Kasarova

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“How can there be Sestos after Kasarova?”

That was Hellmuth’s first question while we watched the titles roll on Kušej’s Salzburg production of “La clemenza di Tito”. Our forgotten plates of cooled pasta still stood in front of us as I just shook my head.

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Through Geschwitz’s Lorgnette: Got me covered?

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…got your attention?
Mhmm. I thought so.

I confess that I bought this recording because of the cover. The content is great, too (19th century duet literature), but honestly? That’s not why I bought it. I bought it because of Angelika Kirchschlager’s come-hither-look and Barbara Bonney’s smile. And for the closeness of the one to the other.

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Mezzo Watch #1 – Malena Ernman’s arms

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<= No, she's not a stuntwoman. She's not earning her money as a professional athlete, either. She's not even gay (bugger…). She's a professional mezzo soprano. (and as I have already stated elsewhere: mezzos rock!)

If you asked anyone to draw a quick sketch of a typical opera singer, you’d probably end up with a collection of round-bellied tenors and huge sopranos.

Of course, opera singers, like all kinds of people, come in all sizes and shapes – whether they’re more the Montserrat Caballé type or more the wiry type like Natalie Dessay. The only thing you thankfully can’t do in opera is being abnormally thin – I wouldn’t advise anyone with a weight of a 100 pounds or less to try and survive a night battling a Wagnerian orchestra. It’s called stamina for a reason. — Just one more reason why I love opera so much is that the Tyranny of the Size Two Types can’t happen there, and I will defend this space where you can defy race, age, gender and body type by the sheer power of your voice against all Netrebkos to my last breath.

But then, of course, there are people like Malena Ernman. And Malena Ernman’s dyketastic impressive arms, thus enabling me to talk about two of my favorite things at the same time: mezzos and well-developed arms.

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Through Geschwitz’s Lorgnette: Mezzo Watch

KTK TT RK Met 82No lesbian opera blog can get around mezzo sopranos. (why would it want to, anyway?) Particularly not around those in trouser roles.

I admit that when I first got into opera (at the tender age of 10), I only had eyes for the soprano divas. In fact, in my first “Figaro”, Cherubino sailed completely under my radar and I went home with a crush on the Countess instead. – Much like Cherubino, actually.

In the years that followed, the requisite boyband poster spot above my teenage girl bed was occupied by a soprano. A lyric soprano, at that (who also happened to turn 64 today and still hasn’t lost her looks). Years later, I would be crushed by her assessment of the “Rosenkavalier” beginning as “the most embarrassing opera scene there is” as far as acting is concerned since the soprano is forced “to share a bed with another woman.”1 Uhm, yeah. A terrible prospect. Not.
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Through Countess Geschwitz’s glasses. Lesbians at the opera.

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‘Gay’ and ‘opera’ are often named in the same sentence. At times, they are almost used as indicative synonyms – a man who enjoys opera is by default gay, and for many gay men, being into opera is something that comes without asking. To this link between ‘gay’ and ‘opera’, we owe the fabulous figure known as the opera queen. (as far as examples go, I’d like to name my own baby brother. The Queen of the Night has nothing on him, except maybe eyeshadow and fake lashes)

Not just among viewers, also among people on the producing side of opera, there are a lot of openly gay men: directors, singers (more or less out) and even managers. A former colleague (a straight assistant director) used to put it this way: “There are straight opera houses, and there are gay male opera houses. And then there’s Innsbruck and Kiel.” (the latter two, at the time, apparently being under lesbian management).

Gay men and the arts – opera in particular – are linked by popular judgment. Just like gay men stand for being creative, well-dressed, the perfect shopping guide and overall a girl’s best friend (and thinking of my brother, I’d have to sign all of the above).

Lesbians, on the other hand, stand for bad haircuts, flannel and a general lack of humor.

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