The future of opera? Holograms & dream casts

The future of opera? Holograms & dream casts

Jenna Simeonov

Readers, the future now, and it’s apparently been now for years. I guess it happens more and more with age: you look away for what seems like a second, and all of a sudden the world has changed. As in, there are holograms giving concerts. Holograms, people. They’re out there, singing posthumous live (?) performances that seem to touch the nerves of both fandom and nostalgia. “Elvis”, “Tupac”, and “Nat King Cole” have all resurrected themselves for a latest swan song for a packed crowd; just this year, “Roy Orbison” went on an international tour, as did opera’s very own “Maria Callas”.

Opera fans are famous for digging in their heels and resisting the new stuff, so I’m sure there are folks out there who are fundamentally, ideologically opposed to the idea of hearing a hologram sing an aria. If that’s the hill an opera fanatic wants to die on - and perhaps come back as a hologram and denounce it some more - so be it.

But the simple truth is that, particularly for young opera lovers, a new - well, old - generation is now available to us. Those born after 1977 can hear Callas “live”; the unfortunate among us who never heard Pavarotti live can come pretty darn close in hologram form. Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, Maureen Forrester, Cornell MacNeil: all of these singers of the past, whose prime years were luckily captured on video, are now, theoretically, back in the mix.

We can now play a fantasy-football-like game of imagining the opera cast of our dreams. What would it be like to hear Christine Goerke sing Brünnhilde opposite Jon Vickers’ Siegfried? Or to hear La fille du régiment with Javier Camarena as Tonio and Beverly Sills as Marie? Marilyn Horne’s Adalgisa with Sondra Radvanovsky’s Norma? A Verdi Requiem with Tamara Wilson, Agnes Baltsa, Jussi Björling, and René Pape?

Or! Don Carlo, with Plácido Domingo’s hologram in the title role, and the real-life Plácido Domingo as Rodrigo? Add a little Jamie Barton as Eboli, and Nicolai Ghiaurov as Philip II? Delicious.

So, readers, onto the important questions: what’s the cross-generational opera cast of your dreams? And do you think, anytime soon, we’ll start seeing a mélange of flesh-and-bone singers with holograms on the world’s opera stages?

And maybe the most sensitive question of them all: will any of you dig in your heels against the sheer novelty of hologram bel canto?

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