Welcome to my Blog.
I’ve struggled over the past few months trying to find the topic that not only interests me but also brings value to others. Over the past two years, I sought to discover what is important to me about opera. I asked the question, “What is the fundamental goal of opera?”
Is it to sing beautifully and show off the power of the human voice? Maybe. There’s no doubt that the unamplified human voice is essential to this art form.
In seeking to find the answer, I thought about what I love most about opera. The music! The music is always the simplest answer. Who doesn’t first think of Boheme’s opening motif? The transcendently beautiful “Sempre libera?” Is it the simple accompaniment at the end of act 1 of Der Rosenkavalier when the embarrassed Octavian runs from the Marschallin? Is it Siegfried’s Funeral March from Götterdämmerung? Closer … However, as much as I love the music, I wasn’t quite satisfied.
“Eureka! … Trovasti? … Si!”
It’s the text! The poetry! The libretto!
The fundamental material that inspired composers to create music to begin with. Perhaps my fundamental job as an opera singer is to communicate text; indeed, to tell stories and to communicate situations that inspire, change, and challenge audiences.
I began to wonder. What if Donald Trump (cue collective groan, but bear with me) had seen more opera as a child. More theatre? Or rather … had he seen opera that communicated the situations of these characters in a meaningful way, would that have changed him?
What if he had seen a La traviata that helped him understand that Violetta is forced to use the only power she has to achieve a modicum of comfort? Would he be so quick to dismiss the sorrow of people who give the most they have to receive so little? Had he understood that she is struggling for relevance in a male dominated world, would he treat women the same way that he saw her treated? Maybe this is a poor case study, subject wise; however, my point stands! I think that our job as artists, creators, and communicators is to show our audiences the road to empathy, compassion, and understanding.
I don’t presume to have the answers to these questions, but I feel that they are worth asking. Where have we failed as a community of artists? Where have we succeeded? Can we do more than provide simple entertainment to our audiences? Should we seek to provide more that? Does being an artist imply that I must also be an activist? I don’t know. I don’t mean to imply that we are the a reason sociopaths exist. But I do wonder if we can help.
Arts funding is always a problem. Getting meaningful performances to as many communities as possible is a lofty and difficult goal. The good news is that there are people much smarter than I who are constantly working on these problems.
What I do know is that I hope to use this blog as a way to discuss this topic. To discuss the part we can do to make sure that our art is relevant. I want to discuss this, not only with you, my future faithful readers (Please DO feel all of the pressure I intend with that statement,) but with myself. I want to keep exploring and discovering, and perhaps, along the way, we can all create better art, better theatre, and better communities.