I have to wonder in the midst of the posthumous reports, analysis and accolades accorded to the great Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, whether he and Domingo are the last of a kind. Not that there won’t be equally gifted opera singers appearing on the horizon to electrify our audiences, and equally gifted “showmen” capable of garnering adoring fans, worldwide.
What I suspect has changed is our lightning-paced culture’s capacity to maintain interest in the same topic or talent for a period of years — even decades. It takes white-hot public attention to become a superstar, yet that can evaporate overnight. The steady interest and adulation that creates a “world-class artist” and — importantly — gives that artist the leeway to make more daring and unexpected choices may be a victim of the 24 hour news cycle and the increasing speed with which singers, actors, and other entertainers wear out their welcome from the general public.
Will there ever be another Pavarotti? Almost assuredly.
Will he be recognized, as such? Yes, but Andy Warhol’s maxim about everyone enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame might soon appear to be an over-estimate. A great artistic career in the public eye, spanning decades, could become even more rare than it is today.
However, there could be an upside: Freedom from the kind of attention that followed Pavarotti’s life and career won’t create wealthier artists but it may promote many more balanced, happy and profoundly creative professional lives if we, the audience, are willing to pay for what we hear onstage….rather than relying upon what we’re fed by the mass media. And won’t that be an interesting time for opera????
Suzanne Calvin, Associate Director of Marketing/Media and PR
The Dallas Opera