New Opera Demands New Singers

Interesting development at Sequenza 21. It turns out I’m not the only opera composer who feels hampered by the ubiquity of bel canto singing. Composers in general, the discussion suggests, at least those my age and younger, like their texts enunciated, don’t object to amplification on principle, and are a little sick and tired of the Europe-y sound of wide vibrato, preferring something a little more pop. Some would rather use untrained singers and amplify them than settle for the usual conservatory product. Last time I staged an opera, I tried to find singers with straight tones, good diction, and little vibrato – recruit them from early-music groups, I was told. But there are damn few around. Now we’ve got a whole generation of composers saying we want a different kind of singer for our operas. Where’ll we find them?

Maybe they’ll appear when classical music finally dies, which classical musicians keep promising me is about to happen, so I keep waiting for the final announcement. It’s been dying longer than friggin’ Generalissimo Franco.

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