We each go through life with our own subjective experience of the world around us: a personal story as unique and beautiful as a fingerprint, but with implicit bias and limitation. Art allows us the opportunity to reach out to one another, to find connections and disparities, to compare notes on different ways of seeing the world.
What if there was a more direct way to accomplish this goal? What would that look like? To all the opera companies, self-producers, recitalists, and alike, let me offer the following suggestions.
I know a lot of my friends and colleagues struggle with performance anxiety, and I wanted to share my thoughts here in the hopes that it might help someone else who is struggling, and open up a dialogue about anxiety and art, which I think for many of us go hand in hand.
And, let's be honest, we've all seen these productions, in which even basic narrative details of a piece are obscured, confused, ignored or senselessly "deconstructed" with sometimes baffling outcomes.
I browsed through some boxes and found records by Caruso, Bjoerling, Pavarotti, Tozzi, and on and on. I didn't even own a record player, but I purchased about $45 worth of vinyl at about $5 per record, and so began my latest obsession.
It's the question that crosses any touring performer's mind when the stage manager misses a stop sign or forgets to check their blind spot. You grip the armrests and wonder, "what if we crashed?" A year ago today, the members of one Canadian production found out.
This is a decent list of reasons to bring your teen to the opera. It's fair to add that opera is not the only place to learn these things; the list above is an argument for getting teens excited about reading, going to museums, and yes, watching well-written film and television.
I pose a theory, though: things are changing. I'm a woman in the industry who has worked with a number of conductors; I'm either extremely lucky, wholly unattractive, or it's true that conductors in the 21st century are, like men in all industries, getting on board with the idea of respecting their colleagues (and keeping their sex lives outside of the rehearsal room).
Opera plots have traditionally required dramatic, pot-boiling plots, often inspired by history. And murder, mayhem, and power have certainly been male dominated. But moving forward, successful lyric theater stories need not always be centered on these kinds of themes.
This time it is different. Now I'm truly allowing myself to give it up. It is without bitterness or resentment. I am discovering all the of possibilities I still have to be a creative and an artist, and I've identified the feeling in my gut that I mistook for fear to be my intuition telling me, "you can let this go now."