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Edward Gold
New York City


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Posted By Edward Gold

While I don't think people should judge others on the basis of their looks, I think that, in the world of opera,  one can no longer get away with looking like the proverbial Goodyear Blimp as in the past.


In the opera house, singers can still get away with a great deal though I would still expect that Isolde would at least lie down after her "Liebestod" and not remain standing like an indominable Statue of Liberty as the final curtain is rung down because she's too fat to do otherwise.


On a video of an operatic performance, it becomes worse. Sticking with Wagner, in "Die Meistersinger", Ben Heppner, the ranking Wagner tenor, as Walther Von Stolzing the young knight, of course, cannot be young but can't we expect a singer in a partly-visual art to go to the gym if necessary? I'm well aware that only a mature singer is likely to be able to handle the part vocally. That this is Wagner's fault as someone told me, is not something I'd dispute but the question is, how do we handle it?


On a video presentation, the possibility exists of dubbing where a young actor lip-syncs to the operatic voice. Taken to the extreme in Syberburg's film of "Parsifal", we have, in the title role, not only one young man who does this but a young woman as well and often at the same time. But even  with these examples, modern European operatic productions can make this film seem rather old-fashioned in comparison.


That, though, is an entirely dfferent topic!


I am reminded that the soprano Deborah Voigt had gastric bypass surgery in an attempt to look svelte even if she gave other reasons so I think the handwriting has long been on the wall.