Yesterday I published a blogpost on some comments made about one of the entrants to the Cardiff Singer competition.
I’ve been reflecting on the situation, and have to admit I have some conflicting thoughts and opinions about it all.
Over the last twenty years or so, a part of the opera world has become swept up in the media’s quest for physical perfection. On the one hand, our singers are being taught to become “HD ready”, and that “that’s the way things are these days – if you want to be hired, you’ve got to look like a film star”, but at the same time we strive to break down any hints of elitism by showing how normal and representative of society we are. People come in all shapes and sizes so why shouldn’t we? And in any case, do we really want to spend more time in the gym than in the practice room?
We’re really happy to see the likes of Anna and Erwin on the covers of magazines, and we’ll salivate over the latest edition of “Barihunks” – who doesn’t love a bit of positive objectification now and again, eh? But, my goodness, we don’t like it when we get objectified in any negative way, and we’ll rush as fast as possible to the “it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s how you sound” argument, and that feels to me, well, somewhat hypocritical.
Of course, it’s not nice to be called names, and it’s great to see people rallying around in support. I feel uncomfortable about people wanting to censor those who want to say negative things. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Hmm. Can you imagine if that were actually to become law? We’d all be living in a rather strange and fearful world, and sooner or later we’d start campaigning again for freedom of speech.
I don’t know what the answer is. I guess there’ll always be people who say nice things, and likewise those who say nasty things. I think all we can do is try to rub along together in this strange tension, and try to understand and not vilify those whose opinions differ from yours.