Friday, September 19, 2008

Man, what a tough crowd!

Singers are an ardous lot - especially opera singers. Now, I realize that I don't always fit the stereotype, but I have developed a pretty thick skin.

And a critical ear.

As a result, it can be pretty hard for me to listen to "opera" sung in television commercials. I may wind up lamenting, "WHO is that soprano?! Couldn't they find someone to sing that properly? Why didn't they ask me, for crying out loud?! I could sing that standing on one foot, hands behind my back, with my eyes closed, in the shower!"

Now before you get all preachy at me, I have done commercial work and for the record, I *don't* sing in the shower. (That last item is essential for taking me seriously as a singer, you know.) But breaking stereotypes as an opera singer ain't easy! One only has to Google "opera singer", and immediately images such as this lovely representation result:

MY POINT IS THIS: We singers are tough on what is presented to the viewing world as "authentic" opera. We can spot a fake from a cadenza away. This gives me pause and cause to wonder if other occupations do the same thing? For example, when someone is ice skating in a commercial, does Michelle Kwan think, "Who is that?! LOOK at that toe loop - she's not even doing a triple! And that flying camel! Who are they trying to kid?" Do hairstylists shake their heads and mutter to themselves, "Like I would really hold a hairdryer like that"? Biker dudes. Do they complain about feeling misrepresented? (I would guess NO...because who wouldn't want to look free, tough and cooooool.)

Are we opera singers just an entire sub-culture unto ourselves? I know I'm not alone in my indignation, here. I can't think of a single singer who enjoys seeing yet another TV ad with the quintessential helmet-clad, braid-bearing, two-ton Tessie barking some horrid squall in an "opera performance". It's so easy for us singers to sit back and look at whom the "experts" hail as "top notch" (i.e. UK tenor Paul Potts), and shake our heads at the mass hilarity popularity of it all. But do we same singers unknowingly buy into other "sensations"? Do we routinely accept other representations we see as the normal standard, or are we just as discerning?
What are your thoughts, gentle reader?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You (opera singers) are not alone. I (being a software guy) cannot count how many movies and/or TV shows I've watched where they misrepresent how computers/technology works. Sometimes it adds to the unintended comedy but not the believability.

One of my favorites (and least expected) was a movie called Crush. The main character is trying to retrieve information off of a floppy disk. Each time he inserts the disk in another attempt he gets a different error message and with large flashing words: "The disk is empty." "No files found." "All files have been deleted." (You get the idea.)