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."
When it comes to Levine's abuse of those who are younger than him and who looked up to him, I'm almost at a loss. Should he be judged for his actions in a contemporary arena, where the tolerance for is closer to zero? Should he be one who takes the fall for an industry that has turned a blind eye for too long? Should we crane our necks and look past Levine, towards the next abuser?
Moreso than a healthy sex life, is it not also empowering for an older woman to have agency of her own? To make her own decisions? Maybe Octavian can sleep with anyone, but for now he's sleeping with her. Not once does the Marschallin confuse what she has with Octavian with true love.
My focus was so great that it likely made me a not-very-interesting person to those outside of my opera bubble, but I didn't care. In the years of academia, summer opera programs, and YAP audition circuits, there was always someone with whom I could talk about my love affair with opera. We were all smitten, it seemed.
There's a funny catch, though, because when you're sitting in those pricey sections of the opera house, your neighbours are likely of a certain demographic; basically, they're sitting in those seats because they're good, and they can afford them. The important thing to note here is not that there are wealthy people who go to the opera, but that there's likely a stark difference between their tax bracket, and that of someone who writes about opera for a living.
There are the rumors of programs stockpiled with shockingly handsome young singers, the conductor who trolls dating apps for singers in his production, the director who always has to show singers how to stage a love scene by taking the soprano's place and kissing the male lead.
Like I said, this is a stereotype. But even if the opera singer herself is a humble, down-to-earth type, the above scene is still part of her job. She might be a sci-fi nerd and an excellent giver of hugs, but she's still standing up on that stage holding flowers and looking like a cross between a swan and Grecian fresco.
If The Rite of Spring "kissed the earth" through a savagely primitive lens, that temple-food-inspired table celebrated our planet's primordial bounty from a more intimate perspective. The meal was prepared using centuries-old methods and crafted with ingredients that shared their origins with the mountains themselves. Traditional Korean cooking has nurtured a patient alchemy, where delicacies, seasoned with time to develop deep undercurrents of flavor, emerge transformed.