Generally Awesome Mezzo Joyce DiDonato Saves My Writer's Block

Generally Awesome Mezzo Joyce DiDonato Saves My Writer's Block

My hunt for blog-worthy tidbits had begun, and just as I felt the beginnings of a good old writer's block, I found myself on Joyce DiDonato's blog. That lady is just great. I'm not sure if everyone will remember this, but I spotted that letter to the editor that Joyce wrote for a publication by online magazine Opera21. The letter was addressed to young fans of opera, urging them to resist becoming cynics. It was posted on Opera 21 as well as Joyce DiDonato's blog about a year ago, and I'm sharing it here because it's a perfect articulation of our goal here at Schmopera. She makes the case for young critics to remain above snobbery, and to that I give a hearty thumbs-up. Here's the full letter by the fabulous Joyce DiDonato:

Dear Opera21,

Congratulations on the launch of this exciting on-line magazine where each of you can delve deeper and deeper into your passions for opera and music! It’s wonderful for me to have the confirmation of my passion about opera through your eyes, because each of you are ignited by the same emotional journeys, breathtaking musical moments and awe-inspiring productions that I am, and you are eagerly seeking a way to learn more. Trust me, as long as you’re game, the journey of discovery never ends! Enjoy it!

I predict your operatic journey may sometimes be a love/hate relationship – for where there are big passions, there can be enormous disappointments. Whether you are an aspiring singer who faces a deluge of rejections (oh, they’ll be there – just keep breathing!), or a fan who suffers through a cast that isn’t to your liking (or, God forbid, isn’t the same singer you first saw when you fell in love with a particular opera back in 2009…!), the disappointments will most definitely be there.

But so will the euphoric moments, and those blessed moments of tears and laughter or overwhelming profundity – or you’ll receive that first contract, or be accepted into the ensemble and begin relationships with friends who will be with you for life. The highs and the lows will both feed you in completely different ways and ultimately bring more depth and joy into your life.

But may I offer one word of caution, or request one small favor? Please don’t become a snob. Please just resist that urge should it rear its ugly head. It’s not cool, definitely not attractive, and terribly, terribly boring. No matter how much you know, or how much you see and hear, and no matter how strong your opinions are, please don’t flirt with that imperial “level of knowing” where you stop listening, stop feeling, and stop learning. By all means, be critical if you like, but please consider offering your opinions with grace and elegance. In other words, “Stay classy.” Trust me, it will enhance your operatic experience by miles.

Throughout those inevitable highs and lows, please fight to keep the faith, and please do your part to keep the dialogue open and moving forward, so that you (yes, YOU) can be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. I want YOU to help figure out where opera goes in YOUR Century. Get creative, spread the word, think outside the box, be open enough so that the newcomers who will come and look to you for guidance will feel welcome, and please keep listening with those curious, eager ears so that the next generations of singers won’t feel that they have to compete with a “DiDonato” or a “Florez”. (Not that there is anything wrong with either of those two!)

Finally, at last its my turn to stand up and applaud each of YOU, and yell BRAVI for your efforts and for your enthusiasm! You are my argument against “Opera is a dying art form”, so get loud, get strong, and yes, stay classy!

CHEERS!

Joyce

Love it. @Gerald Finley started following @Schmopera today. Maybe he'll write us a letter soon.

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Written by

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna Simeonov

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera.com. She's also a pianist, vocal coach, and répétiteur, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera. Her favourite operas include Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Tristan und Isolde, Written on Skin, and Anna Nicole.

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