Opera Buffs…In More Ways than One

by Suzanne Calvin

Today’s New York Times examines the trend in opera productions to bare more than emotions for today’s audiences.  Increasingly, the new young and athletic singers are being tapped to shed their clothes for the sake of art, buzz, and ticket sales (hopefully, in that order).

A case in point is L.A. Opera’s American premiere of Howard Shore’s The Fly, directed by David Cronenburg and based, primarily, on his 1986 horror film remake.  The opera stars Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch (who will soon be boarding a plane bound for DFW in order to sing the role of Figaro in our season opener, The Marriage of Figaro) as perhaps-mad scientist Seth Brundle.

In a crucial moment of the action, Okulitch strips to his birthday suit for a fateful trip in a telepod, emerging for what I am told is a modestly lit full-frontal moment, but not one without dramatic justification.

But here’s the point raised by Anthony Tommasini: “First and foremost, opera is a vocal art form…A great voice can be very sexy.”

We have to ask the question whether--after years of being bashed for presenting ordinary looking singers, cellulite and all--we’re not in danger of putting too much emphasis on good-looks, at the expense of vocal virtuosity and emotional resonance and truth.

We’re not remotely there yet (So far, serious vocal “chops” and magazine quality attractiveness seem to be co-existing quite happily in opera artists like Okulitch, Karita Mattila, Michael Todd Simpson, Renee Fleming etc.), but, I agree we need to keep an eye on this trend, lest it get out of hand.

Read the entire article and add your thoughts and comments to the discussion--we’d really like to hear from you.

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

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