It’s Curtains for Naughty Divas

by Suzanne Calvin

Have you been following the mesmerizing sequence of events at Chicago Lyric? The whack-whack firing of one of the world’s great divas, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu, for multiple misdemeanors?  And the triumphant debut of her Latina understudy?  It’s been quite a ride.  From John von Rhein’s column in “The Chicago Tribune”:

“Indeed, everyone in the opera world will tell you that opera in the early 21st Century is a genuine artistic collaboration. It has moved light-years beyond star singers doing their own thing, which was true in many parts of the opera world for much of the last century. With great artists thick on the ground during that time, audiences demanded little more of the top performers other than they stand on their marks and sing, which they usually did gloriously.

But the Tebaldis and Milanovs and Bjoerlings are gone, and the few genuine opera stars who remain are being held to different standards, even if they still command big fees. (Gheorghiu and Alagna are thought to be paid more than $60,000 a performance by the top houses.) Opera companies generally are less forgiving of naughty behavior by the artists than they ever were.

One reason is that general managers of big-budget opera companies such as Mason are CEOs as much as they are impresarios. They are charged by their boards with making sure both the bottom line and the artistic product are healthy and that nothing disturbs their fine equilibrium.

Which means that the inflated demands and egomaniacal whims of artists are no longer to be tolerated — not when they could jeopardize the quality of a product that typically costs more than $1 million to put onstage, generates thousands of dollars in ticket sales and represents the combined efforts of many different artisans — singers, orchestral players, backstage support staff, conductors and coaches.”

Here’s the entire article:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/chi-1007_

divasoct07,0,1775497.story

Don’t miss musicologist Phil Gossett’s quote at the end (He wrote the fabulous article you’ll be reading in The Dallas Opera’s MACBETH Playbill).

Suzanne Calvin, Assoc. Dir. of Marketing, The Dallas Opera

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