Bocelli & Evancho to sing at Trump inauguration, opera folk feel weird about itEditorial
*Update: Andrea Bocelli has since withdrawn his intent to perform at the Trump inauguration.
If you haven’t yet heard, Jackie Evancho and Andrea Bocelli will be on the entertainment line-up for one of the most horrendously inevitable events of 2017: Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.
People like Adele and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe have already made it clear that they want no connection between their music and the Trump campaign, and Elton John hilariously replied to an invite to perform at Trump’s inauguration, “His political views are his own; mine are very different, I’m not a Republican in a million years. Why not ask Ted fucking Nugent? Or one of those fucking country stars? They’ll do it for you.”
…but never fear, I guess? Evancho, or as Huff Post calls her, a “16-year-old opera singer,” is apparently “excited” about the gig, and that “it’s going to be awesome.” As for the political leanings of both Evancho and Bocelli, who knows? It’s of note that Evancho’s older sister is transgender, and a peruse of Bocelli’s diary reads like many of the left-leaning artists we all know.
I’d almost write that, at the very least, their singing at Trump’s inauguration will be good visibility for opera; but the truth is that Evancho and Bocelli will do a popera concert, without really representing opera well (I’ll confess for clarity: I’m not a fan of either singer).
When I read the headline about opera’s unexpected representation at the start of a 4-year rollercoaster (at best), my first thoughts went from, Of course it’s Bocelli and Evancho, to This is not the kind of mainstream presence we had in mind for opera.
In some respects, you can probably liken this to Renée Fleming’s national anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl. The people watching the Super Bowl weren’t doing it to hear Fleming sing, and the people who watch Trump’s inauguration likely don’t care much who performs at the event.
But the talk about Fleming’s singing at the Super Bowl and Evancho and Bocelli singing at Trump’s inauguration have been quite different. Understanding why that is is fairly simple: Fleming is simply a superior singer. Perhaps we, the passionate opera lovers, feel that if opera is going to have a brief moment of mainstream media spotlight - for an audience of millions - a singer like Fleming will represent opera well. Bocelli and Evancho will represent popera well.
Personally, I suppose I feel a bit icky that it was within the opera world (which does include popera) where the Trump people found artists willing to perform for his big day. Like it somehow shames by association a whole community of opera singers who are largely liberal-leaning.
That said, there’s no reason to entirely snub the idea of a well-paying gig (hopefully) with an enormous audience. Hopefully, Bocelli and Evancho will have performances that they feel good about.