The Art of Defining a Singer and Squashing AnomaliesEditorial
I spotted a strange review in the Washington Post by Anne Midgette, on Ian Bostridge's performance of Winterreise at the Library of Congress. I was misled by a clickbait-esque headline (not Anne's): "'Ian Bostridge Is Not A Classical Singer' Says Anne Midgette".
The review itself isn't out of the ordinary. There are, however, some troubling paragraphs:
I'm surprised Anne used this argument to basically make the point that she doesn't think he's comparable to Gerald Finley. She'd be hard pressed to find two people who give the same definition of a "classical singer". She also seems to be saying Bostridge's autonomy excludes him from the (Anne's) ranks of classical singers. She goes on:
This is the kind of mean, irrelevant criticism, written by people who do not make music for a living, that today's classical music scene simply does not need. There are broke artists everywhere, and so the concert scene (just like the opera scene) has begun to adapt to the fact that only the creative survive. Basically, a critic should be the first one to notice that individuality is invaluable in today's live entertainment, instead of taking shots at Bostridge's perceived oddities. It feels similar to the cool kids who make fun of the uncool kids for reading books.
The real question that came to mind upon reading Midgette's review is this: if the definitions of classical music performances are changing, shouldn't that extend to the classical singers? If singers train for projection and stamina, isn't it because they're going to sing in a 2000-seat theatre? Wouldn't a savvy artist be adaptable to their performance space, and not sing with all they've got just because they can? Isn't singing supposed to be a heightened form of speech, anyway? Don't singers always strive to communicate, not just "produce sound"?