Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
Amira Willighagen, aged 9, is a superwow on Holland’s Got Talent. Watch.
She needs to loose the accent ASAP and at 9 it will still be fairly easy. “O mio babbino caro” sounded like “oatmeal babbino caro” at first hearing. Other then that she’s got a promising future ahead. Can’t wait for her as Isolde.
She’s booked to sing it in 2015.
All those faked reactions. They act well those “judges”. I started hating these shows years ago, so I better don’t write more.
And yes, I’ve been to 2 shows of America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator. I’m glad all these shows at least once produced a true star.
Jackie Evancho is not a “true star” in your opinion?
Maybe I should have phrased it “a true star, which I doesn’t bore me after 5 minutes of listening.”
Nonetheless, I don’t think I mentioned this “leading young artist of her generation” in my post.
My wife and I were once bored after about 15 minutes of opera. I just wanted to respond with the same level of contempt with which you commented.
Can’t compare totally operatic — i.e, stand-in for Renee Fleming during future sore throat limitations — with opera-denial Jackie… tears of joy at first success a la Jackie would have been more endearing.
Zero pitch problems for sure, could coach CC and KJ.
The judge didn’t say Babbino Caro better than the girl did, so it’s clear they all don’t have a clue. Putting a nine year old through that is a crime. She is obviously forcing and straining. At least Jackie avoids that voice killer by singing softly into a mike.
We won’t hear her as Isolde unless she stops right now and is made to wait for the right time to sing such an aria, several years hence.
Too true, CJ… she either tones it down or turns into Charlotte Church.
Very clear beautiful voice, perfect intonation, expressive and nuanced. Incredible stage presence, especially in view of the big disruptive audience and judged who could not sit quietly to just let her sing. Forget the accent; of course she can be coached in that.
Get me the next Jackie Evancho. [beat] Who was Jackie Evancho?
A great pleasure to hear her sing and I look forward to hearing her many times more as you begins to put her own stamp on her interpretations.
Terrible! It reminds me of so many brilliant children (geniuses – violin, piano) who later disappear
from the stage. She has musicality, but that’s all one can say now.
And I agree with Martin’s first paragraph.
Having great musicality is a start. It’s a bit early to start being dismissive.
Am I the only one who finds it weird and inappropriate for a little girl to sing about threatening to commit suicide if she can’t marry her lover?
Anyway, yeah, some good potential. It would be nice to hear the voice w/o amplification to really know what’s there.
Of course the text is grossly inappropriate for a 9 year old. You are definitely not alone in thinking so.
The good news is, she probably is clueless about the age inappropriate text. Maybe even as clueless as the judges.
Actually not really,
I just read a story (which was published in the Tagesanzeiger Magazin) about partents dealing with a suicide of an 11-year-old boy. He jumped from a bridge, in all likelyhood, because his girlfriend left him.
It seems that people often underestimate children in this regard. In two to three years she will have heard it all in the schoolyard.
Sarah, I sincerely hoped so, but I can already see you are not.
Er, so you DO think it’s appropriate for a 9 year-old child to sing a text where she threatens to committ suicide unless she can marry her lover? I don’t think pre-pubescent children have had the life experiences and intellectual maturity to accurately portray those kinds of emotions. And frankly, I don’t think they SHOULD. (The sad story that Martin relates above is a good example.) Can’t we let kids be kids? There’s plenty of age-appropriate music out there for this girl to sing that also has the added benefit of not potentially causing damage to her still-developing voice.
Her mood throughout suggests she has no clue of the meaning and it may take her several years to realize the context (when she’ll be mature enough to accept it)… in the meantime she may think — and have been told — it’s a story about a young girl falling in love with one of the products during a doll factory visitors tour… or whatever other story for interim placating.
Anyway it won’t be long before this event will or won’t be proven a worthy worldly audition … better lay off the over-exertion from now till then and emphasize sensible coaching.
With seven million youtube views she’ll have at least 50 K in advertising commissions to pay for promo travel, etc. PLUS she’ll get TV interview invites that will return something more.
Youtube is the first influence in history to make overnight worldwide success possible … Joe E. Lewis would have loved it.
I submit that many movie actors and opera singers don’t have the experience you suggest they need play the parts where murder, rape, incest, violence, and so on, are involved. Sadness is sadness. Pain is pain. Everyone can go there in there own context.
Well…you know, what do you say about this? This is nothing I recognize as good singing of the Puccini aria. At times it is painfully wobbly, squealed, and breath-challenged. But she is a nervous nine-year-old, and the people cheering and applauding are doing so in thrall to that, and because they have no idea what the piece sounds like when competently sung. She already has people calling her an angel or the reincarnation of some great opera singer of the past, so she is the next Jackie Evancho in that respect. And we go ’round and ’round and ’round in the circle game.
sad but true:(
Might have been better if she’d sung some Joni Mitchell?
Maybe so, but who would have noticed? You undoubtedly would not have watched it.
Please, no more of these “tiny singers”. Kids shouldn’t be doing this and as long as the pandering continues, they’ll keep being exploited. The only ones benefitting from this insanity are the ENTs!
You don’t see Jackie Evancho as having benefited from her appearances on AGT?
She richly deserves to join a children’s chorus. There she’ll learn way more about music and singing than under the limelight. The show is pathetic.
Oh, she also deserves to have a real childhood, in order to mature into a well rounded adult
I fully agree with Petros…. Stop child exploitation…..!! She is obviously NOT ready for opera, so give her a break! She will make it in due time, if allowed!!!
Absolutely, let her mature naturally and not be exploited by her parents and “the industry” and she might, just might, have a happy future.
zenaida, She should be allowed a childhood as per Jackie Evancho, for whom it seems great care is being taken. Of course, we hope the same for Amira. This is the first time we have seen this young singer. Isn’t it jumping the gun a bit warning of the worst so quickly?
One wonders at the wisdom of her parents in allowing her to perform in such a forum. Why?
I wish her every success though she does need a strong and informed backing team. Being on a show like this will do her little good in the long term, especially if she wants to sing Opera.
Why not? A show like this does gain them recognition. Opera as a genre could use more recognition itself these days.
what this little girl does is not opera. is not even singing actually. it’s just a prove she got teached which noises to make to which note. And yes, she’s doing that better than most other school children.
Finally, I have seen the most hubristic comment (and I have seen many), to have ever been made in the name of opera. If it is not opera, it is not singing? Really? I feel like I owe you lunch or something!
@Janie: One wonders at the wisdom of a critic to presume that she knows better than the parents do in regard to the future and well being of their daughter.
How can (why and would) you suggest a negative outcome from Amira’s appearance? Thousands of potentially relevant and interested viewers have seen this performance and you have no idea where this exposure might lead. We went through the same barrage of negativity regarding Jackie Evancho’s early performances.
The short term is often the first step into the long term.
A report has that she “learnt opera from youtube” In Australia more and more opera is being dumbed down and made “accessible” The very thing I love and admire about opera singers is the years and decades of careful training of mind body and spirit to become a singer who without amplification can fill a large auditorium over a full orchestra for hours on end . No 9 year old comes close to that nor should they. Another sad exploitation of a young girl who at least has chosen to emulate something worthy, but totally age inapropriate. I am just as saddened to see young dancers in highly sexualised break dancing routines emulating adult music videos. let children be children – and I agree she would be an asset to a childrens’ chorus and learn much too. Not talent shows and pageants.
Totally agree with the comment above. children need a childhood, that is a part of growing. Take away the accent, stop punching the air and what on earth is that uncalled for shriek at the end??
A child, and you ask about “that uncalled for shriek at the end”. Where is your sense of proportion? Did that question really need asking? It puzzles me that so many feel compelled to level such harsh criticisms at the early performances of children. Could you not manage to say essentially the same thing in a more considerate way?
What you don’t fully appreciate is that “the years and decades of careful training of mind body and spirit to become a singer who without amplification can fill a large auditorium over a full orchestra for hours on end” results in music which many find repellent to their taste. They do so with objectivity and justification equal to that which leads you to love the result.
You make opera sound more like an athletic event. Have you contemplated the notion that this emotive quality is precisely what many don’t like about opera? And the child has probably read worse in children’s fairy tales. Even with regard to your example of children dancing, they are doing nothing that they don’t see daily on television. Most would be shocked to know what their “sheltered” children already have seen and know. This child doesn’t need to know about your worst case scenarios, but she might well appreciate your encouragement and support.
It appears Amira is already in a children’s chorus. The voice sounds quite different.
Mike, a bit stressy but expressive and on key… her voice can’t take much of that exertion though…tone down or tune out.
I don’t hear any “stressy” singing here. It sounds, to me, to be gentle and controlled. “Tone down or tune out” seems applicable to her singing of the aria in question, but….
The choir video solos make her sound like a new age robot… the mike held up has garage sale quality, should have been a disclaimer for anything that ruinous.
The whole choir recording is not exactly cutting-edge–this is a U-Tube clip of a children’s choir, after all, so of course her voice sounds different here. There is also a rather large difference between the music of Puccini and the music of Morricone, sung here. She can’t win, can she? I wish her well.
@ R. James
Try listening to youtubes of Maria Callas up through Anna Netrebko… never distortion resembling a frog swallowing a bumble bee as in this case… cheap equipment handled by amateurs obviously… shouldn’t have been posted as exemplary of her ability– most misleading.
The composer can have little effect either on her timbre that will ring true even if she sings nursery rhymes.
I certainly wish her well, like you… if only management like that of Jackie’s team would come her way.
Seeing no other mention of it — I must add — a total lack of chin waggle and rather exquisite use of vibrato … now must stop my stage-hogging.
Do we have any reason to fear that “management like that of Jackie’s team” will not come her way? A lot of the same kind of criticism was directed at Jackie after her first appearances.
OMG, they are bastardizing Morricone! Oh the humanity! And do those children understand that this fantasia was inspired by murder in the jungle filled with aboriginal peoples killed by small pox and other introduced diseases followed by exploitation?
Looks to me these children of a “lesser god”, than your god, are having a bit of fun! And since they are singing in Dutch, they probably understand well the meaning, and have even contrived their own visions of Green Mansions in the jungle. My question is, can God understand that accent? Should they even be allowed to sing anything outside of Sesame Street?
Some of you are far less relevant than you think you are! I have heard Morricone echoing in the mountains of Montana, but I’ve never heard your names. Norman Lebrecht, yes, but not you! I have even been to a Rene Fleming concert, 5 weeks ago. I love her! I was at an Ana Vidovic concert recently in Missoula! Lovely Croatian girl. But of course she isn’t an opera singer, just a classical guitarist. But I like Jackie Evancho best! Therapy perhaps?
YES children should be just that … otherwise imagine training chimpanzees for the role … how stressful (or maybe not) …I’m thinking……better yet train chimps to sing opera and break dance — right on!
Must google the memorial for Cheetah (you younger folks missed that).
Sp: The Chimp star was usually spelled Cheeta says Wiki… there were several filling the role through the years Tarzan ruled the jungle on a pendulous grape vine hollering with operatic magnificence AND significance mesmerizing all ears of all species… performed even better in the water being an ex-olympian.
Somebody please advise whether that was technically a yodel he emitted?
Sadly there’s no Cheeta memorial– not even allowed to footprint the Hollywood pavement.
I don’t think she can be the next Jackie evancho. She did not pronounce the words properly and her voice is not better than Jackieevancho. Jackie I way better than her!! Jackie is the best,always supporting Jackie!!!! Loveher!
She’s not in Jackie’s ball park — a future opera contender (not Jackie who chose a unique style fitting her talents with excellent management) — soon to be chewed up if she doesn’t soft pedal.
More grist for Janie and Cabbagejuice’s mill. Enjoy you two.
I am Janey, not Janie above. I have no comment.
Why do people go crazy over kids doing imitations of adult singer/musicians? Her diction is so poor that even I can tell, and the phrasing indicates that she has been coached note by note. It is so obviously controlled that there is nothing at all beautiful about it. This performance is so clearly done by rote that it sounds like she like is regurgitating the worst aspects of a Suzuki recital.
That the audience claps before she’s finished half the phrase tells you that they are starved for true voices and honest music making.
Stop this madness.
Then again, this is a TV show; draw your own conclusions.
They are cute! A quality that escaped you long ago.
To me it is ugly. The fake coached muscular vibrato is ugly. Vocal pedophilia, made for adults. Beautiful children’s voices can and should be cultivated, but not like this.
I respectfully submit that what many in opera consider to be “true voices and honest music making” is not acknowledged to be exclusively so by the vast majority of the world’s music lovers. It can just as justifiable be said that what opera singers do is “so obviously controlled that there is nothing at all beautiful about it”. “It is so clearly done by rote that it sounds like they are regurgitating” seemingly ‘ad infinitum’ the same old, well, operas.
Stop this madness.
Then again, this is opera; draw your own conclusions.
If in time she rises to the level of an accomplished opera performer she’ll have this event to look back on as her first stepping stone… how much is wrong with that, dear naysayers?
Yes, totally inappropriate for a little girl to sing. Children should not be allowed to listen to this stuff until at least 18 let alone sing it.
“Children should not be allowed to listen to this stuff until at least 18…”? You are what we common folk refer to as a control freak. Good God!
It’s called sarcasm.
The child had talent and voice,no question about it and I am glad that it seem Jackie become the model of this kids. Why not, rather seeing our kids spending their times with computer games in front of their TV. Quite few succeed which we all witness and become super stars. So who knows what the future will bring. Jackie now enjoying and experiencing fame and fortune and improving her God given gift. They too make a difference in their on native country,and be like Jackie one day.
What difference to her native country did/does Evancho make?
Martin I have it from a good source that other so called young “mindless” followers of Jackie Evancho, as you would characterize them, gave up their promising careers to follow Jackie down the “yellow brick road” because of all the wonderful things she does, rather than the pot holed street toward RAP music. In fact, I sat, but 96,000 people stood, along with poor relatives from Ukraine, who couldn’t afford a seat, to listen to Jackie sing in St. Petersburg Russia. Yes my favorite opera lady, Sumi Jo (personality galore), was there as well, and Dimitri Hvorostovsky, but it seemed Jackie was the big hit and by her second song drew the biggest applause. Have you done that? And by what purpose would you denigrate her? What does it serve? If someone calls her an opera singer, denigrate them. It is always the media.
And CJ, I have family in Ukraine, and flew my dear friend with the help of other Jackie fans, from the center of Siberia to St. Petersburg, since I was already in Ukraine. It seems Jackie has a big Russian/Ukrainian following.
Your comment is puzzling. Jackie Evancho makes a difference to everyone who listens to and enjoys her music. I hope I misunderstood you.
I think I might have misunderstood what peacemaker wrote. His/her comment was regarding all the young people making a difference, not that singer who claims to do opera music, but actually just sings some well liked arias. Sings them to the the pleasure of many, Just like the superb violinist Rieu pleases thousands.
I’d really like to see the teenyboppers who are fans of their own age group singing crossover or watered down operatic arias and who stay long enough to model their lives or behavior on these stars. Middle aged to the elderly, particularly men, seem to be their most ardent fans and supporters who are the most active on blogs and websites, not kids.
Mature men may well be the most ardent of all as they do what’s possible to support the efforts of a youngster who unlike the pattern of cutesy Disney role models — who morph into social embarrassments (name unnecessary) — might provide a more lasting inspiration of consistent quality for their own granddaughters.
@richardcarlisle “Ardent” is an interesting choice of word. I’d say “silly” for elderly men to be so involved in the doings of adolescent girls. Actually this kind of burning support is neither needed nor wanted.
@cabbagejuice It is no more silly for “elderly men to be so involved in the doings of adolescent girls”, than it is curious that older women so often react negatively to the doings of pretty young girls. I have seen this personally over the course of my life. And, I don’t mean this flippantly.
@CJ, perhaps middle aged men like myself are ardent supporters of girls who express some civility in their choice of music genres. Your “perverse” suggestion is perverse in and of itself, as I am certain Richard’s nor my thoughts wandered from the opera house to the red light district!
Do I know a middle aged man who by my definition, and probably yours, is a pervert? Yes, one! And he disturbs all of us. In fact, I am a disturbed man who much prefers the female voice in all genres and of all ages! Perhaps you would like to apply some elitist psychoanalysis to me?
To help you take what I said even further out of context it’s obvious that enthusiastic seniors who attend concerts with their equally admiration-sharing wives have severely damaged Jackie’s career by inflicting an overabundance of money through ticket sales and tainted her image through mere association with the elderly… in order to monopolize her their grandchildren are likely forbidden to offer any kind of support or express a degree of enthusiasm under the threat of disinheritance and …your turn –there must be other ways you could suggest that are causing a dampening effect on Jackie’s well-being because of seniors’ support.
Speaking of interesting word choices what exactly is “doings”… another unscrupulous bit of negatizing?
Why doesn’t “ardent” describe anyone buying a 100-dollar ticket and traveling a distance to enjoy a performance… with your admiration of “BOTW” it would seem you might be included as ardent.
Your biases seem purposeless… perhaps there’s an explanation….
@richardcarlisle You’re right, the color of your greenbacks is devoutly sought after and appreciated. No face on that, however, except the picture of whomever is on the dollar bill.
Yes, greenbacks of which opera is in increasingly desperate need.
@cabbagejuice: How many opera performances are pro bono? It is less that these other performers are money mad, than it is that opera doesn’t pay so well. And remember, opera is largely supported by people who make a oodles of money. Don’t disparage it because you don’t have it.
@Steve Huff Intense emotional involvement is what I’m talking about. In a normal exchange: “oh well, you don’t think this singer is the greatest thing since sliced bread, ok, we can agree to disagree…”
The estimates for the St. Petersburg event (I wouldn’t dignify it by calling it a “concert”) were about 50,000. These people came for various reasons, a nice activity for the white nights up there, out of curiosity and also to see their own boy Dmitri and Sumi Jo.
Unsupported hyperbole is expected though: “It seems Jackie has a big Russian/Ukrainian following.” So by all means don’t disappoint the fans over there and do a tour of Russia and the Ukraine!
I correspond with one Ukrainian singer who however is not head over heels, who knows something about technique and also who has been pelted by the Evancholists for expressing a divergent opinion.
CJ, with all due respect, you have done some pretty good pelting yourself. The attitude you show in your comments toward almost every person and group you mentioned, is in itself a kind of hyperbole. Perhaps a bit more clever, but hyperbole nonetheless.
People want to believe in fairytales, it is a Walt Disney experience:
- The phone salesman who sings opera out of a sudden (Potts)
- The housewife with the golden voice (Boyle)
- The kid which should be the next Maria Calles (this kid, like many others)
The crowd has a tunnel vision: they care more about enjoying the fairytale but do not care if that fairytale turns out to be a nightmare over a longer period of time for the person involved. Without any knowledge of singing, if it sounds a bit like their expectations they go for it.
That is what music does for a large part of the audience, an other part goes for the reputation of the singer and only a very small part really knows something about singing.
I am sometimes amazed that these kind of video’s attract millions of people, while an aria sung flawlessly by Stracciari only get a few hundreds.
Some things cannot be stopped, this is what the large audience at this moment wants. Opera can do a millions of things to come a bit closer at the large audience, but it starts with a classical education I believe.
@PaesiBasso It sounds as though you have never given serious thought as to what opera can do to come a bit closer at a large audience”. In this respect, the effects of rigid classical training its one of opera’s detriments.
opera is about emotions, I can see any emotion in her singing, only a series of beutifully composed notes. People who never listen to opera might think this is beautiful because she sings well, not realizing, that the real work was done by the composer.
Some see the dramatic emoting and exaggerated heroic poses in opera as emotional to a fault. With opera mavens it always comes down to “You don’t like opera because you don’t understand it.” This is condescending, and tells be that I should like wine which is bitter to my pallet because of how it is rated. Opera is bitter to the taste of many music lovers.
The little girl is beautiful. One of opera’s problems is that it separates the performance from the physical presence of the performer. That is why opera singers who are supposed to represent young women in love are so apt to be overweight and too old. You may call it artistic integrity but, in the real world, it compromises the overall effect of the performance. You guys need more typecasting.
Cast the parts with cute little kids singing shortened and simplified versions of the operas into microphones? That might bring a “large audience,” yes. The thought of it would fill me with horror if I ever thought it would happen. I can imagine Otello for a 12-and-under cast.
PaesiBasso: This sort of thing gets a lot of hits because it goes viral. It’s passed around among all sorts of demographics that would never listen to an opera aria, and there is a curiosity factor. Hey, I clicked on it myself. I would know Stracciari was going to be good; how good or bad this was going to be, I did not know until I listened. Not very good, even by classical-crossover standards, as it turned out. I wish her well, even so, but the whole spectacle was depressing television.
@Yes Addison says: It depends on your perspective. You see a problem with kid’s doing simplified operas using microphones. One might well see that you are the problem for not being able to appreciate anything out of the box, a very small box. Things are appropriately simplified for children in all sorts of situations, sports certainly comes to mind. And, why did you click onto a type of show which you unconvincingly profess to hate? You don’t seem to get it that it isn’t a matter of whether or not Amira Willighagen is good, it is one of whether she is good for a 9 year old.
And, Addison, this sort of thing doesn’t “get hits because it goes viral”. It goes viral because it gets hits. Your transposition is a transparently self-serving characterization. And it is perfectly legitimate for people to enjoy an unexpected aria even if they are not seeking it. You cannot say of a demographic that they would never listen to an opera aria even as they are doing exactly that. Curiosity? I suspect many people listened to or attended their first of many operas out of “curiosity”.
I attended my first opera (La Cenerentola) out of curiosity. After my father attended his first–and last–opera, Faust, which he detested, along with most soprano singing thereafter, I wanted to find out what I would think. To date I have seen most of the standard repertoire, including just about all of Wagner and Puccini. Still not my favorite musical form, the Met HD presentations always find me present.
@PaesiBasso Esatto, ben detto!
About the Star is Born (not made) mentality, propagated by Hollywood films, I think of Joe E Lewis who said (allegedly) that it took him 20 years to become an overnight success.
Just as some are born with natural gifts which enable them become stars a little sooner, this performance may lead Amira Willighagen to the guidance she needs a little sooner. Otherwise she might damage her voice with continued unwitnessed singing. Early recognition is not a death sentence, it just needs a careful process. One might say that opera’s mentality of practice, practice, practice for 20 years has its own risks, such as ascerbating ongoing financial and attendance problems. It may well turn out that attractive, precocious performers like Jackie Evancho and Amira Willighagen do more, in the end, for opera than opera does for itself.
@Yes Addison What do you have against Stracciari? He was a well regarded singer in his day, appeared wuth Caruso, did the role of Rossini’s Figaro 1000 times and had a long career. His expressiveness and fine technique come through in this recording done more than a century ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYRIQi3eNXk
I have nothing against Stracciari. Was it perhaps an unclear antecedent? I wrote, re: the curiosity factor that compels one to view some clips and not others, “I would know Stracciari was going to be good; how good or bad this [the latest aria-singing kid ] was going to be, I did not know until I listened.”
@Yes Addison That is a problem with English, putting what where. But if it weren’t for your post I wouldn’t have discovered that gem.
Thanks to you both; it’s really amazing to discover “new” treasures from the time of Enrico Caruso.
@legin buddha I don’t know what you are going on abut “opera’s mentality to practice x3 for 20 years”. Some singers mature early or have well placed voices to begin with. Rosa Ponselle was only 22 when she appeared at the Met beside Caruso. Opera is not the only venue for trained voices. Art song, oratorio, musicals (yes!) recitals, etc., probably claim more than the operatic stage.
You got it backwards with Amira. Singing in the shower or at birthday parties don’t require projection, much less the intense emotional pressure in performance. As for teenyboppers doing more for opera, well, that is really funny. It was a joke, right?
You can’t have it both ways. When Jackie Evancho came onto the scene, you repeatedly stressed the notion that opera singers required decades of rigorous training. Now you reverse yourself with your example Ms. Ponselle. Your inconsistency is too convenient. And, no singing “requires” projection in the same way that nearly all singing requires it. Opera does so simply because it was conceived before it was technically feasible not to. Projection can harm a young voice, yet opera mavens condemn Amira for using the buffer of a microphone.
Which characterization shows more respect for the performers, “attractive, precocious performers” or “teenyboppers”. Why so dismissive? As for “doing more for opera” I read accounts of Evancho fans who said Her performance led them to an appreciation of opera for the first time in their lives.
And you inferred that opera singers perform under more intense pressure than a 9 year old very apprehensive Amira when she put it all on the line on national television. It was a joke, right?
It is relevant to our discussion to know what you think is the source of the current economic and attendance problems in opera. Respectfully.
@legin buddha I don’t know that opera has an attendance problem. Halls are not 40%, tickets are frequently hard to get (nearly impossible in Bayreuth) and live streaming from the Met is well attended.
Only a small proportion it seems of listeners cross over to opera from crossover. So the term itself is ill-conceived.
I did not reverse myself by citing Rosa Ponselle as an example of a singer whose voice matured early, probably well placed to begin with. She still had to undergo rigorous coaching by one of the best, Tullio Serafin.
The use of the word projection has to do with carrying over a song from the stage to an audience. Again this is not only in opera. Kids should not have to undergo the pressure of singing before a multi-million audience as every flaw is magnified.
Unripe juveniles would be another description of little moppets who trot out operatic arias with generally bad production and language.
I didn’t see one “opera maven” who “condemned” Amira for using a microphone. This is not a battle between opera and crossover, but good singing and bad.
Live opera attendance is declining (not catastrophically) as it increasingly goes digital. So much for no amplification as it is being listened to through speakers. That “only a small proportion of listeners cross over to opera from crossover” is, nevertheless, meaningful. This may help little with actual attendance but a CD or DVD purchased here and there helps a classical artist to earn a living, which is not always so easy. And, I suppose we will all have to decide for ourselves as to the legitimacy of the term “crossover”
You did a reversal with Rosa Ponselle in the sense of using her as an example of one who’s voice matured “early” and probably well placed to “begin” with. That characterization of early advantage is at least akin to the circumstances of our two young performers. While it is not comprehensively analogous it can be seen as an effort on your part to “have your cake and eat it too”.
The need for projection in opera is problematic for some. It is a form of emoting, a forced effort to, first of all, be heard. This is why you get more realism in movies than on stage where they speak in a manner that lets them be heard, but which is far removed from natural speaking. Many would argue that Frank Sinatra, Jackie Evancho, Barbra Streisand and Josh Groban sing (sang) naturally, thanks to amplification, but that Pavarotti did not. (No value judgment here)
“Unripe juveniles would be another description of little moppets who trot out operatic arias with generally bad production and language.” “I did not see one ‘opera maven’ who ‘condemned’ Amira for using a microphone”. Opera’s contempt for the use of amplification is an oft-expressed criticism. Unquestionably, this contempt has been repeatedly expressed by opera aficionados all throughout its history, and too often in unnecessarily derogatory ways.
“This is not a battle between opera and crossover, but good singing and bad.” For some of us, it is more a battle between fans of trained adult singers and those of young gifted but inexperienced singers. It is a battle between our views of the performances of beginners and those of established professionals. These need to be judged on different grounds and with, I believe, more consideration for the youngsters.
What about professional adult and beginning child singers who are “trotted out” who sing, as one would expect them to? It’s one way to approach it.
A worthy thunderbolt of realization: crossover term ill-conceived– a pet peeve of mine as well –
the former classical and semi- was good enough and better than this semantic travesty.
But what ever happened to the line of thought going back centuries when fine art — a term appropriate for the best in that field — wasn’t a shoe-in for the best in music… (there are many critics of “classical” as semantically deficient) leaving “fine” for classical and “good” for crossover.
As for your statement about mic use, there was a comment above that suggested no mic to allow a proper assessment of her real voice.
Also, there are abundant condemnations of young singers including Amira as a terrible genre rather than being a way of introducing them at a stage that will rapidly improve and serve as an initial introduction and something to look back on with interest like the Beverly Sills or Julie Andrews early recordings.
The fact of how many millions of viewers and millions of dollars are involved hardly affects the mind of a juvenile that seems to relish all of it graciously … thirst-driven markets abound all around and this is one more such force in modern civilization.
Young performers will always be adored just like puppies and kittens; like it or not the option remains to look the other way.
#richardcarlisle The young Beverly Sills and Julie Andrews did not sing with a forced technique. The girl in the above clip is clearly straining, not good at all. Mirella Freni sang well as a child but wisely took a few years off to clench her technique as the other two abovementioned singers.
I love puppies and kittens, wouldn’t look the other way at all…
Here’s a piano clip of the youngster mentioned by Norman in another post today: Alma Deutscher (puppies and kittens again comparable).
CJ, I’m not debating any aspect of quality of any child performers through history, the point only let’s get something on record to refer back to… no question Amira should change course to avert disaster in the near future– as a teacher you might contact her family with some heartfelt advice.
@ Don McKee
The combo of Jackie and her management I fear is an unlikely wonder and the sort of process that adversely affected Charlotte Church far more likely … Hayley Westenra is another success story though, so we’ll wait and see, hope for the best to happen.
Hayley’s unique tone, musical skill and pleasant manner took her a long way while Jackie’s social skills are taking her much further (along with that management).
@richardcarlisle As a teacher I do not give unsolicited FREE advice.
And as for “management”, what do you think of a 13 year old who is not allowed to go around by herself without a security guard or adult? I’d say in Jackie’s case, that would be micro-management. Also sad.
You think the Obama girls go around in complete freedom?
What’s wrong with being in their class?
Can you think of anyone suffering a mental flaw from over-protection?
You waste time on us — why not a quick note to Amira’s team?
Look at all Alma Deutscher clips– the most stunning brightness giving everyone a total sense of “How did that happen” or “What kind of DNA is that”…. her CDs have sold out on Amazon, temporarily unavailable.
Mozart comparable and then some… security guards needed again!
@richardcarlisle The Obama girls still go to school and freely interact with their peers who do not avoid them in public. (Please refer to the recent radio interview with Brian Copeland.)
True, if my comments were only directed to you I would be wasting my time. But you have no right to speak for anyone else here.
An embarrassing error — I did not mean anything negative and should have more correctly said you SPEND time on us unpaid.
I rather thought YOU considered your efforts wasted with the amount of static you get (how unlikely for me to consider your time wasted on me with the joy I find unraveling the complex threads of thought found in your adept writing style) … an interesting and understandable misunderstanding … so the question stands if we get your time and thoughts freely, why not someone who needs it as much or more like Amira … is she just too small an audience?
On the chance you’re not over-saturated with youthful talent exposure it would be good to know your response to Alma Deutscher, a pianist/violinist composer/performer — no vocals — to be found in searching youtube… not just another in a long line but truly overshadowing all.
With the Charlotte Church train wreck it seems the more security the better but it’s only a hunch and not worth any attempt to prove — a potential time-waster.
@Don McKee I’d like to clear up once and for all multiple misunderstandings and try to draw one thread out of many.
No one expects a kid to sing operatic arias in a fully developed manner. The young Beverly Sills and Julie Andrews still sounded their ages but were on the right technical road. The aforementioned kids who sing O Mio Babbino, one of whom repeats and is only compounding her mistakes everytime, do not have yet the right tools. It would be similar to putting young but talented dancers on pointe before they are ready. The point is not to sing such material before the voice is ready for it and surely not in public, no matter WHO or HOW many think it cute. Otherwise muscles that should be used and are not will be compensated by moving the tension upwards, producing symptoms such as jaw waggle and an unhealthy vibrato in the lower range. Such habits are notoriously difficult to eradicate.
There could be no comparison between Rosa Ponselle at 22 who did have a rather lengthy vaudeville career before she appeared in opera, and kids just barely passing the double digit.
It’s amusing to read about “opera community, mavens or afficionados” who are against little upstarts who challenge their elitist views. THERE IS NONE, SORRY! It’s all in your heads, those who bought the mythology of having descended from the sky without any training that will overturn the whole snotty classical world! I personally lost interest in the whole subject after learning the extent of actually copying from youtube videos. I gave some more credit than was due for phrasing and nuance. I am really turned off by the whole business.
I’m really turned off by a business that makes those who can’t – or don’t want to – know better, believe, that this really not that good performance of an average school choir solo singer is the one of a super talent.
First, I hope your remarks are meant as a blanket response to some of JE’s more unrestrained fans rather than to me specifically. If it is not then it infers that I have said things that I have not. And I do sympathize with how you feel because I have had to defend myself from a couple of Jackie’s fans merely because of some mild cautionary remarks I made about over zealousness. That I am a devoted fan of Ms. Evancho does not mean that I see her has an emissary from God sent to save the world.
This discussion, on both sides, echoes the campaign arguments between political opponents where, in order to get elected, each feels compelled to do some demonizing of the other.
No one expects a kid to sing operatic arias in a fully developed manner”.
With all due respect, in looking back, the nitpicking has gone far beyond that of not singing in a “fully developed” manner. The drawing of one thread out of many could be seen as disingenuous when, in the overall discussion, the devil is in the many threads. I have said before, perhaps to you, that it often less a matter of what is said than it is one of how is said.
“It’s all in your heads, those who bought the mythology of having descended from the sky without any training that will overturn the whole snotty classical world!”
This comment might have some small relevance to my behavior but for its hyperbole. I would never defend such a ridiculous notion without serious qualification. If your comment here is a general response to the entire discussion then I accept it.
“It’s amusing to read about “opera community, mavens or aficionados” who are against little upstarts who challenge their elitist views. THERE IS NONE, SORRY!”
When I was a boy, my father once heard me refer to someone as being ‘stupid’. While he never laid a hand on me, or either of my two brothers, he had a way of looking you straight in eye and intoning his message so that you never forgot, and you took it seriously. I was raised in a middle class neighborhood, metaphorically ‘on the wrong side of the tracks”. Half of the kids, with whom I attended high school, came from wealthy families. This, coupled 35 years at work involved in management/blue collar relationship, gave me a dearth of experience of being on the receiving end of snobbery, or at least of seeing it take place. To be fair, the snobbery, like in this discussion, went both ways. Like a misogynist can’t fool a woman, a snob can’t fool his subject. This is as specific as I will be. I trust that you understand.
“I personally lost interest in the whole subject after learning the extent of actually copying from YouTube videos. I gave some more credit than was due for phrasing and nuance.”
I am hope you are not so “turned off” that you stop contributing. You are an very crucial part of the discussion.
@Don McKee An above poster wrote that Amira (allegedly) learned opera from youtube. Until fairly recently I was not aware of the extent of kiddie copying from video performances. We will soon get to the point where there will be imitations of imitations if not there already. Video recordings can be a useful tool in learning but NOT a substitute. You wrote about “nitpicking” criticism but all the the things that are missing from these kiddie performances are what one would get from proper training. I find it astounding and even disturbing that it is possible to be so wilfully ignorant about the limitations of depending on copying others. Not giving credit is another thing. Pretending that it dropped from the sky is even worse, and yes, it does bother me. I don’t feel the obligation to molly coddle a multi-million dollar enterprise.
I myself didn’t come from a wealthy background or even musically educated although a grandmother, her sister and husband were opera fans as much as it is possible to be while working in sweatshops. I stayed at the local convent after hours to practice piano waiting for everyone to leave so I could have the room to myself. There was also the FM classical radio station and the local lending library that had classical LP’s. I also devoured the books there on mainly music and literature.
I do believe that a “university is a state of mind” with resorting to experts as an economic consideration since those who have been there can point out the shortcuts and the best way to do things.
I don’t need to be lectured on tone or how things should be said. I have been the target of ugly insinuations and name calling. The latter I don’t stoop to. Satire is expected in the marketplace of ideas and goes all the way back to Ancient Greece where I suppose people were not so thinskinned.
Of course you don’t need to be lectured, and of course you have a right…etc. It is not a question of rights but one of what is right. My objective is to your blurring of the line between satire and sarcasm, and between sarcasm and plain insult. But both of these are only good or bad, right or wrong, according to their usage. Your attempt to ennoble this behavior by trying to justify it as some kind of high literary exercise rings rings hollow. And you might want to consider that Socrates was poisoned for what was essentially political incorrectness. Your romanticizing of ancient history is no less erroneous than is the romanticizing of your sarcasm (satire). As for your reference to the good old days of black and white TV, and so on, you might want to remind yourself than they weren’t so good for much of our population, certainly not for African Americans. We may more “sexual” these days but we are less apt to call someone the “N” word or keep the “little woman” in the kitchen.
And you inveigh against it as though political correctness isn’t essentially about respect. In music, you mistrust emotion or feeling. Yet, the tone indicated by sarcasm (oh, alright, satire) indicates how very much you are led by emotions.
It’s called sarcasm? That brings to remind the bully who, alarmed at the exent of the pain he has just inflicted, quickly responds with “I was just kidding, don’t cry, I didn’t mean it!” There is a thin line between intellectual bullying and sarcasm, with both often being one and the same. And, then, to blame the recipient of the sarcasm for his/her lack of nuance or sophistication is simply ‘piling on’, adding insult to injury.
What is life but an endless series of miracles and mysteries and why be annoyed by anything coming from anyone but yourself… literacy is one of the major wonders, distinguishing us from all other species… LET’S ENJOY IT (we have some fine wordsmiths here).
Your moxie never lets you down– keep on keeping on… there is much to appreciate in free exchanges and YOUR admirers are many.
Life is a can full of treasures waiting for us to keep working the can opener that releases them.
I concur, Richard. I have learned much from CJ about opera informationally, and about cannily idealized sarcasm by example.
@Don McKee Satire keeps us from taking ourselves seriously and is the first to go in a dictatorship. Too bad we will not return to the bad old days when innocent humor like Beverly Hillbillies or Perfect Strangers whose legal team didn’t have to check every word for fear of offending someone’s sensibilities were on TV. In their stead we have highly sexualized getting a rise out of couch potatoes by a continuous series of titillating electric shocks by word or action.
This is about the extent of allowable humor otherwise someone might be offended. More sensible is if a joke or remark is not directed to someone personally who can dispute it, just turn away and ignore it. Otherwise the negative effect of having to censor one’s thoughts and words is an unending list of those who may be offended. This is actually happening in schools and universities, a dictatorship of political correctness.
And yes, Michael, some people or their actions deserve sarcasm.
“Satire keeps us from taking ourselves seriously and is the first to go in a dictatorship.”
If I am not mistaken it managed to survive quite a long time in Prague and in the Soviet Union.
No, calling this satire is an attempt to put jewelry on a pig. There is nothing noble or “anti-dictatorship about. That is as convoluted as as if I defended National Socialism because it allowed classical music to go on, or because it use it to serve its purposes.
Your best thoughts and presentation of them ever… word crafting treats the eyes while rich tonal values bless the ears, fine leathers and fabrics bring joy to fingertips, flower gardens bliss to our nostrils and great wines generate palate pleasures.
Here’s to life’s fullness.
How about sheer inexplicability and wonder of our existence, of our consciousness and self awareness? This is the wonder before all others.
There was a joke about Stalin who appeared on postage stamps. Someone handed in a letter to a clerk with a blank stamp. When asked about this, he said “I must have spit on the wrong side”.
Surely if this had been said in earshot of the KGB he and his family would have disappeared forever. Satire goes underground, doesn’t disappear as does human nature in dire circumstances.
@Don McKee I was just scrolling up to try to figure out what you were on about. Can you cite specific examples of intellectual bullying that caused pain? Actually I find it hurtful to be the victim of a smear campaign based on innuendo and exaggerations. Boo-hoo!
@cabbabejuice Don’t scroll up the page to find an example. Our discussion has been going on for a couple of years, here and on YouTube. I partially explained why I take bullying, intellectual and physical, seriously earlier in this thread, but there is more to it than that. I have an adopted son who is developmentally challenged just enough to have attracted bullying over the course of his childhood so I am more personally familiar than I would like to be with the pain that bullying, most especially the verbal kind, can inflict on one with little capacity to deal with it. I was hesitant to add this as I have mixed emotions about using it to justify my sensitivity to this phenomenon. I know many of Jackie’s fans are hard on you, but I also know that you are, more often than not, their intellectual superior. To be sure, I have occasionally been obliged to criticize myself for doing the same thing, but usually with some nagging regret. And, all I can do is ask you not to believe that I am a participant in a “smear campaign” against you. If it helps you to see some context here, I am the guy who differed from you in the past about subjectivity and objectivity with regard to music preferences. And don’t underestimate the quality support you have in these discussions. There is a good share of it in this thread.
I only referred to the understandable from a nervous system viewpoint– something that other mammalian species can enjoy (except for written words) … going on to the magical/mysterious I have one theory for you.
The following explains the fact no two snowflakes are alike due to an interspersing of alternate forms of oxygen and hydrogen… further, no other effects in nature come from/are caused by the alternates and they therefore apparently were established for no other reason than to intentionally differentiate all snowflakes.
Thus, if all snowflakes differ then what is left to be described as identical— is it possible there are NO two items beyond the complexity of electrons describable as identical….including EVERYTHING from earthworms to celestial entities?
I suggest therefore a general rule:
A BASIC QUEST IN THE UNIVERSE IS VARIETY FOR ITS OWN SAKE.
ARTICLE: Author: Kenneth G. Libbrecht, Caltech
Is it really true that no two snowflakes are alike?
… musings on that eternal, infernal question …
Now there’s a question I hear a lot. It’s a funny question, almost like a Zen koan — if two identical snowflakes fell, my inquisitive friend, who would know? And can you ever be sure that no two are alike, since you cannot check them all to find out?
Although there is indeed a certain level of unknowability to the question of snowflake alikeness, as a physicist I find that I can address this issue with some confidence. As I will demonstrate, the answer depends to a large degree on what you mean by the question. (Yes, physics does occasionally have its Zen-like qualities.)
The short answer to the question is yes — it is indeed extremely unlikely that two complex snowflakes will look exactly alike. It’s so extremely unlikely, in fact, that even if you looked at every one ever made you would not find any exact duplicates.
The long answer is a bit more involved — it depends on just what you mean by “alike,” and on just what you mean by “snowflake.” Let’s look at the possibilities….
Nano-snowflakes can be exactly alike. Some things in Nature are exactly alike. For example, our understanding of elementary particles indicates that all electrons are exactly, precisely the same. This is one of the cornerstones of quantum physics, and if you think for a bit you will see that this is a profound statement. Electrons are true elementary particles, in that they have no component parts; thus they are all exactly alike.
A water molecule is considerably more complex than an electron, and not all water molecules are exactly alike. If we restrict ourselves to water molecules which contain two ordinary hydrogen atoms and one ordinary 16O atom, then again physics tells us that all such water molecules are exactly alike. However about one molecule out of every 5000 naturally occurring water molecules will contain an atom of deuterium in place of one of the hydrogens, and about one in 500 will contain an atom of 18O instead of the more common 16O. These rogues are not exactly the same as their more common cousins.
Since a typical small snow crystal might contain 1018 water molecules, we see that about 1015 of these molecules will be different from the rest. These unusual molecules will be randomly scattered throughout the snow crystal, giving it a unique design. The probability that two snow crystals would have exactly the same layout of these molecules is very, very, very small. Even with 1024 crystals per year, the odds of it happening within the lifetime of the Universe is indistinguishable from zero.
Thus at some very pure level, no two snow crystals are exactly alike. An exception (why does there always have to be an exception?) would be a snow crystal with only a handful of molecules. If we assemble a crystal of only 10 molecules, for example, then it’s not so unlikely that each of the 10 will contain two ordinary hydrogen atoms and one ordinary 16O atom. Furthermore, a cluster of only 10 molecules will only have a few likely configurations. So there’s a reasonable probability that two 10-molecule snow crystals would be exactly alike.
I might add that even if we restrict ourselves to isotopically pure water molecules, it’s still very, very unlikely that two macroscopic snow crystals would be exactly alike. When a crystal grows, the molecules do not stack together with perfect regularity, so a typical snow crystal contains a huge number of crystal dislocations, which again are scattered throughout the crystal in a random fashion. One can then argue, like with the isotopes, that the probability of two crystals growing with exactly the same pattern of dislocations is vanishingly small. Again one has the exception of few-molecule crystals, which can easily be free of dislocations.
xtwoalike.jpg (2413 bytes)Small snow crystals can look alike. Now let’s relax our definition of alikeness, and say that two snow crystals are alike if they just look alike in an optical microscope (the smallest features one can see in an optical microscope are about one micrometer in size, which is about 10000 times larger than an atom). In this case things are very different. One can find simple hexagonal prisms falling from the sky, and one can certainly make such simple crystals in the lab. The picture here shows two such crystals grown using the free-fall method (see Free-falling Snow).
Crystals with simple shapes often look similar to one another, and it’s not hard to imagine that if you sifted through a reasonable number of Antarctic snow crystals you would find two that were essentially indistinguishable in a microscope. Since simple crystals are very common (one doesn’t notice them much because they’re small), it’s fair to say that there are a great many natural snow crystals that look pretty much alike.
But that’s only for simple hexagonal prisms. What about more complex stellar crystals?
Larger, complex snowflakes are all different. The number of possible ways of making a complex snowflake is staggeringly large. To see just how much so, consider a simpler question — how many ways can you arrange 15 books on your bookshelf? Well, there’s 15 choices for the first book, 14 for the second, 13 for the third, etc. Multiply it out and there are over a trillion ways to arrange just 15 books. With a hundred books, the number of possible arrangements goes up to just under 10158 (that’s a 1 followed by 158 zeros). That number is about 1070 times larger than the total number of atoms in the entire universe!
Now when you look at a complex snow crystal, you can often pick out a hundred separate features if you look closely. Since all those features could have grown differently, or ended up in slightly different places, the math is similar to that with the books. Thus the number of ways to make a complex snow crystal is absolutely huge.
And thus it’s unlikely that any two complex snow crystals, out of all those made over the entire history of the planet, have ever looked completely alike.
Interestingly, while I am an identical twin, there are many differences between my brother and me, physical and psychological…both of which may be, ultimately, one and the same! I do not scoff at the notion of magic, in the sense that it represents to me, simply that the subtle rules the gross, or that the invisible rules the visible. Hence, for me, everything that occurs is a magical act on one level or another. (Perennial Philosophy?) Hasn’t physics essentially come to this?
That I am essentially agnostic simply means that the most honest thing I can say about any ultimate question is “I don’t know!” If you haven’t done so already, say it to yourself. It produces a form of, or at least a ‘feeling’ of liberation, or maybe just relief! No matter how many questions we could ever answer, there will be others waiting, as a kind of endless adventure. When someone tells be about God or the Big Bang Theory, for instance, I really do take it with a grain of salt. Theories are just that, explanations that satisfy only until they fall to the next grand theory.
Let me get back to the trouble with words and to your Zen reference. Back in the 70s I spent some small time with a Zen Buddhist group (sangha), which included a couple of two week meditation retreats (Sesshins) where you literally meditate, in half hour segments, for eight a day. Let me tell you the first week was unsettling! Eventually, I was given a Koan to solve. These are questions whose answers allegedly transcend the logical or the conceptual. The Koan given me by the master was, “What is noise?” Well old smarty-pants went back to his mat to meditate his way to a solution. After my first effort, I came back to him with some fancy explanation about sound waves and ear drums and so on. “Too intellectual” I was told. “Work on it some more.” Too shorten this up, after three or four mildly frustrating efforts, the problem seemed to solve itself during my zazen (mediation). After I approached the master before whom I prostrated myself, he again asked, “What is sound?” I responded by slapping my hand down hard on the mat. He smiled and then scratched the mat with his forefinger and asked, “What is this?” I hesitated briefly but then reached down and scratched the mat with my forefinger. He smiled and nodded his approval. A thing is what it is, not what we say about it. Of course I was inappropriately proud of my achievement until he told me it was a beginner’s koan, and the whole idea is about humility. Lol The point is, that this lesson extends to my approach to music, and this is part of what leads me to some differences with CJ. To me the History, the technical aspects and knowledge of opera, etc, act as barriers between the performance and me or, in another sense, my experience. I never enjoyed a symphony so much as the first time I heard Beethoven’s 9th at the age of about 10. It was a kind of naked, unmediated experienced which moved me deeply, and which wasn’t hindered by any prior educational and intellectual baggage. Of course I do know and appreciate that for most opera lovers, hearing/seeing an opera is also an intellect-imbued experience. I just reject the suggestion that I don’t generally enjoy opera because I don’t understand it. Except for the occasional aria, I just don’t like it and that is valid.
I haven’t read a post as long as yours, and I don’t think I have written one this long until now!
@Don McKee See, you didn’t provide ONE instance of intellectual bullying which is itself a fuzzy ehough concept to sling around to spread blame. No, I am not guilty of that PC crime of knowing more than others about a subject in my field. Sorry, but if students in your son’s school get A’s or win statewide spelling bees or prizes, it is your job to let him know that he can excel in things he does best, not to dumb down the achievements of others which apparently is the case in public education so kids don’t feel bad if they don’t have the same level of ability in sports or learning. I do know more about singing that you, get over it. It is my profession. I don’t need to bend over backwards to sugarcoat my own hard achieved knowledge for those who have no problem insulting me. It is difficult to deal with people who are not used to an intellectual debate. They have to reduce everything ad hominem. But their being objectivity challenged still puts no onus on me to dumb down or to soften the effect of ideas I feel passionately about.
But if you are talking about flaunting, what would you say about a 13 year old who says “I am a singer, actress and model and I have big dreams.” What do think the effect would be on her peers? Maybe that is the reason they don’t really listen to her music and avoid her in public places.
Here are some examples of your comments that qualify for the kind of condescension and contempt that presents as “intellectual bullying”. It is a tone you take which makes sure its recipient understands his/her ‘proper’ place in the relationship. Every one of the above quotes fairly oozes hubris, that unmistakable message of superiority and contempt for those to whom one sees him/herself as superior, intellectually, culturally and even morally. I have underlined the most flagrant examples of this ‘quality’. To be fair, I do know that some of the comments, which prompted your barbs, were no more generous in spirit than were your own. I would have thought, however, that in light of you’re apparent cultural, intellectual and moral superiority that, out of consistency, you might have responded with superior ‘class’. You know, because you are on the side that you would have us believe, would know better.
“Jackie rose to fame with nothing more than the love and support of her family.”
“Lenin would have called them “useful idiots”.
“There were no contacts after the AGT, BGT, no David Foster, etc.??? And SURE, the family and everyone else are not making a fortune from the girl…”
“What does one say to those who confuse tinsel for gold, who take cut-and-paste ego-strutting opera clips as CULTSHUR, who believe any hype coming from a microphone, be it newscast or heavily amplified tiny voices?”
”…to what lengths will promoters and family will go to thrust their money-making prodigy in front of a worldwide audience?”
“Anyone who can’t see the qualitative difference between an overly hyped slap-up musical event (with other performers strutting themselves) and yesterday’s, well, it is useless to try to explain to them.”
“Are you from the thought police? How else does one describe males after a certain age – deferred maturity fan boys? And who can’t describe any show as being stupid, especially if it is stupid like Lady Gaga’s?”
“The same for Brightman and the hundreds of candles in Vienna, the big entrance with the clash of drums and all, without which there cannot be a “performance” if it would depend only on the merits of her singing. The public doesn’t see through that and thinks it is great.”
“You people simply don’t know what you are talking about. You like something, fine, but you can keep your silly justifications.”
“Now I understand why you people accept if Jackie became a veterinarian in case the technique doesn’t hold out…”
“Well, having earned so far $2.5 million, sure, who should care if the vocal cords are used out prematurely?”
“Emotional response in an audience” is a loaded concept. I can’t help but thinking emotional mobs listening to and reacting to certain dictators’ oratory and going out to wreak mayhem.
“You’re the one (plus most other fans) who can only buttress their arguments with “I like it”. So go ahead, like what you will. Who really cares?”
“The passionate intensity that accompanies the glorification and sanctification of prodigies to the extent of accusing the other side of attack (when they do plenty of their own) and gratuitious insults is based on defending a principle that they probably would not even recognize as being one.”
“…what they’re really broadcasting is a crude anti-intellectualism and preferences based on gut and herd reactions.”
“This only proves that the promoters and packagers of JE have successfully pushed all the irrational buttons of the public and it’s no use talking to them because their attitude is “don’t bother us with facts.”
“…you know nothing about the complexities of high art. So what is left for you to do is sneer at others who integrate their feeling with understanding and intelligence, that does distinguish us from animals.
“And so do Lady Gaga’s fans know about feeling. Please don’t confuse feeling with music. But hey, that is probably too abstract for you!”
“Well some people prefer Tom and Jerry’s renditions of classical music and can have their bellylaughs at the same time.”
“Her family and managers could not possibly be ignorant of the risk they are taking, so obviously they don’t care.”
“There is no “agree to disagree” which just shows the pitiful intellectual level of so many of them.”
“Puerile is as puerile does (referring to “boys” of course – “puer” in Latin is boy)” Only God knows why you directed this at me.
“You geezers are living in a time warp. You never really grew up, still stuck on fan clubs and…”
”Coming from people who think that Pavarotti was having an embolism when doing Nessun Dorma, and that opera singers are screechy, one could write a few encyclopedias on what you fans don’t know about music. Personally, I don’t think you would know “flat” if it hit you in the face.” (You directed this at me.)
“Instead, there are ooohs and aaahs to gratify those who don’t really know opera but get a Readers’ Digest version of it and expensive tickets to boot.”
“Outrageous prices for tickets – just proves that they’re all out to get as much money as quickly as they can before the cutesy-pie factor fizzles out.”
“…all sacrificed on the altar of financial gain and giving pleasure to the public – UGH!”
“True Believers trot out “facts” supported only by their emotional conviction.”
“@Don McKee See, you didn’t provide ONE instance of intellectual bullying which is itself a fuzzy enough concept to sling around to spread blame..…. Sorry, but if students in your son’s school get A’s or win statewide spelling bees or prizes, it is your job to let him know that he can excel in things he does best, not to dumb down the achievements of others which apparently is the case in public education so kids don’t feel bad if they don’t have the same level of ability in sports or learning.”
I trust that by now I have satisfied your request for instances of intellectual bullying. Of course it can be a “fuzzy concept”. That is why I said there is a fine line between satire and sarcasm. I have some regret for bringing the case of my son into this. It was not a matter of him being unable to compete academically (although it was more difficult for him.) He has a learning disability, among other things, called dysgraphia which makes it more difficult for him to read, speak and process information. The kind of bullying he received was the taunting kind. He simply couldn’t speak or respond to things as quickly as his classmates who, as kids are wont to do, took advantage of his weakness out of their own insecurities. We all have them. He was shunned to some extent throughout his childhood years and it was heart wrenching for all of us to see. However, he would be the last to into sink into self-pity. Now, at age 33, he has had to be put on anti-seizure medication. Understandably, you were thinking in terms of the more ordinary differences among children.
“But if you are talking about flaunting, what would you say about a 13 year old who says ‘I am a singer, actress and model and I have big dreams.’ What do think the effect would be on her peers?”
This sounds to me like a straightforward description of what she does, has done and hopes to do, said in the manner of any child her age and in her circumstances. There is no “flaunting” in saying “I have big dreams.”
“Maybe that (flaunting) is the reason they don’t really listen to her music and avoid her in public places.”
Most of Jackie’s singing is simply more suited to the adult taste. When someone you don’t like is walking down the sidewalk toward you and you cross to the other side of the street to avert a meeting, then it would be accurate to say that you ‘avoided’ them. That you walk down the sidewalk and simply don’t see something taking place on the other side of the street because you are otherwise occupied does not mean that you actively ‘avoided’ them. We all have many experiences, which are neither avoided nor sought. Your characterization makes it look like you have an ax to grind.
As for sarcasm and satire: when used as an anti-government campaign they share some similar effects and are used in similar ways but in day-to-day interpersonal exchanges there are great differences … satire is not used in conversation while sarcasm is frequently employed as the most disrespectful form of insult.
There are two layers in sarcasm: 1) The target is supposedly being tested whether stupid enough to take the words seriously as spoken while the issuer knows full well the target is not that stupid. 2) The total lack of sincerity throughout is intended to show a profound lack of respect.
Did I miss anything?
@richardcarlisle Yes, you did. What relevance has all that etymology have to do with anything? Satire is usually written, OK. Self-depreciation can be comic, spoken or written.
Sarcasm doesn’t mean that its object doesn’t deserve it. In fact, it may be the least aggressive and honest way of pulling down the mighty from their high horses.
For example, some people call a current prominent leader the Lyin’ King. Pithy and concise, he thinks he is a king and doesn’t mind duplicity to get what he wants.
@Don McKee Also around the age of 10 I discovered Beethoven’s 9th Symphony from stumbling upon the classical music station and then the actual composition on the transistor radio I got for Christmas. Funny I can still see in my mind’s eye that radio with the brown leather cover, it was so important for me.
Anytime No.9 was repeated, usually by chance I would go into my room, darken the lights and listen transfixed.
From time to time we got tickets to concerts and opera. Saw Madame Butterfly on film, Jean Madeira live in Carmen, was astonished to read in the program notes she sang the role hundreds of times. Only I didn’t have a clue while sitting there and it was rather boring. Later on when I accumulated more musical experience was I able to start to appreciate opera but I preferred piano music more than anything. In fact, I am not an opera fan, maven or afficcionado. That’s why I find some of the comments about opera vs. classical crossover as intriguing and strange.
I do like good singing, in fact, love it, no matter where it comes from. I like Piaf, Billie Holiday and Sinatra as per examples. I don’t like screechy opera singers either, those big voices who sing at you rather than to you.
Wow. We are in complete agreement here.
Your comment illustrates not only how complex sarcasm really is but additionally your capacity to take any apparent agreement between any two or more people concerning anything and transform it from pleasant harmonious concurrence into a hot argument (in a good way of course)– a rare talent not seen previously at least by myself.
It seems to me sarcasm is based partly on a total or near-total lack of respect on the part of the issuer who is as you say “taking down the mighty” and doing so with a hope of total or near-total intellectual destruction of the target not to mention elevation of the issuer’s status.
To use sarcasm as a tool of destruction is to use the most potent of all tools because it is not only based on a lack of respect but intended to take down irrevocably…. how can you consider it “least aggressive”?
Wouldn’t least aggressive be to have a heart-to-heart talk completely honest and direct before resorting to sarcasm?
Firstly, my post extends to and includes my theory A BASIC QUEST IN THE UNIVERSE IS VARIETY FOR ITS OWN SAKE … after that is the elaborate snowflake article by Caltech physicist Kenneth Libbrecht used to support my theory.
Identical twins have the same DNA for starters but experiential differentiation can begin even with pre-natal conditions and extend from there, creating two significantly different individuals.
Interesting description of your Buddhist experience; my fellow-pilot roommate while doing Cold War duty in Korea is Japanese-brought-up-Christian-turned-Buddhist, still in frequent contact … he never mentions anything that interesting … our closest collaboration supplied content for the recent book “Freedom through Vigilance” by Larry Tart.
Certainly there are limitations with words but the fact remains we are the only species able to write and read them (doesn’t make us better but rather different– a goal in itself according to my variety theory) while there are trained animals able to understand them but only audibly…and you obviously appreciate the right to write as your sentences pour nicely from one into the next similar to the pace I find in James Joyce’s Dubliners, much to your credit.
Your thought on education affecting response to formal music I must agree with but will say my first fascination with fine music came with a college course in music appreciation that led to scant follow-through until in Japan my roommate on an R and R weekend convinced me to attend Tosca staged by La Scala and that didn’t get me thoroughly involved until my first hearing of Mozart’s K 581 clarinet quintet… that started me eating-sleeping-dreaming the best of every kind of music for the past several decades partly due to the way it was used in that wondrous “Mash” episode.
A thought occurring to me in the midst of communication between people on forums is that there are few forms of love greater than total intellectual respect since it might date back and possibly be related to our first impressions of parents competently changing diapers and providing nutrition.
Me? James Joyce? You had better find a way to bring me back down! Lol
Richard, I don’t accept any of yours or Don’s insinuations about intellectual bullying by me or unwarranted sarcasm. Respect in my books has to be earned over time. Total respect, like unconditional love of parents? Are you kidding? Puleeze, the marketplace of ideas is for those out of diapers.
There is passion for music and for ideas but you, Don and the alleged English teacher would reduce everything to baby pablum. Count me out. I am not interested.
For gosh sakes, I missed this one, another fine example of you looking down your nose at folks. It’s a pretty good one, though! Lol
“you, Don and the alleged English teacher would reduce everything to baby pablum. Count me out. I am not interested”.
If you turn an objective discussion to mud simply because you mistakenly think you’re being accused of something — like an octopus squirts ink to confuse a predator — then how can an intelligent logical set of ideas ever get exchanged.
I picked up on the concept of sarcasm only to exchange thoughts and try to ascertain what exactly IS sarcasm and what does it DO to its recipient then you accuse me of calling YOU sarcastic…we had a wonderful disagreement going where you stated sarcasm is un–aggressive and I said it’s insincere AND aggressive — DID NOT ACCUSE YOU OF SARCASM– strictly an objective discussion and you put it on a personal accusation level… do you even read comments you respond to or do you simply go into paranoia mode as soon as your name appears assuming you are being accused of something?
Neither did I accuse you of bullying, only having a mind quite cluttered with musicology factoids like an attic collects antiques and you’ve done little to disprove that description… your audience, me included appreciates exposure to those info bits about the technical side of music and it’s hardly a bad thing, just makes it difficult for you to launch a point when you seem to have too many arrows in your quiver jammed in so tightly they can’t be dislodged.
I tossed in the parental respect thought to see where it might go … interesting angry response on your part.
@richard/leginbuddha Richie, I wouldn’t lower myself to nurse anger at such stupidities, aversion is more like it. You make all kinds of insinuations and like a little boy who goes around throwing stones at windows, high tails and scoots off.
Comments like these don’t qualify for “discussion”, let alone “wonderful” or “objective”: “your capacity to take any apparent agreement between any two or more people concerning anything and transform it from pleasant harmonious concurrence into a hot argument.”
You and self-appointed Buddha can’t stand I know more about this subject, have facts to fill an attic (nice snotty depiction) so you are trying to take me down making me look like the bad guy. Sorry, no cigar. I am proud of and stand on everything I said. (Did the English teacher share with you his bursting file on me, Donny?) Given all the prolific praise, a reality check is but a drop in the bucket. You wouldn’t know “objective” if it hit you on the head. You can only concoct up ad hominem arguments use them for bashing. In fact, you have lost the thread of any argument a long time ago except your determination to bring me down, which you have don’t have a chance as much as turning a pigskin into a silk purse.
Really you two bore me to death, why don’t you just pack up your bags and go?
“@richard/leginbuddha Richie, I wouldn’t lower myself to nurse anger at such stupidities, aversion is more like it. You make all kinds of insinuations and like a little boy who goes around throwing stones at windows, high tails and scoots off.”
It is difficult to respond when I don’t know to whom you are directing your fire, but I think I get your drift. First, I am not the least bit angry. In fact, the way you carry on I sometime find myself going back and forth between sympathy and disparagement with regard to your mercurial behavior. Seriously, no anger here whatsoever.
“Comments like these don’t qualify for “discussion”, let alone “wonderful” or “objective”: “your capacity to take any apparent agreement between any two or more people concerning anything and transform it from pleasant harmonious concurrence into a hot argument.”
It isn’t clear to me who you are talking to, so no response.
“You and “self-appointed Buddha”
Are you, therefore, a self-appointed cabbage?
“…can’t stand I know more about this subject…”
I have long since expressed my respect for your superior technical knowledge, and on more than one occasion. Again, from the beginning, my difference with you has been less over what you said, than it has been over how you said it. And, in that respect, I have stayed on subject.
“…have facts to fill an attic (nice snotty depiction) so you are trying to take me down making me look like the bad guy. Sorry, no cigar. I am proud of and stand on everything I said.”
I don’t know about others, but I am absolutely not trying to take anyone down. It seems to me, cabbagejuice, that you can dish it out better than you can take it. Do you seriously see something conspiratorial here, or are you simply outnumbered? I should think that would be a matter of some concern.
“You wouldn’t know “objective” if it hit you on the head.”
What can I say? You seem to see yourself as bedrock of objectivity in an uncomfortably indefinite world. You are correct about the objective criteria of opera, but whether or not the inevitable product of that criteria produces a pleasing result, is a subjective one.
“…except your determination to bring me down, which you have don’t have a chance as much as turning a pigskin into a silk purse.”
All I can say to this is that it concerns me that you see anything I have said as part of a larger conspiracy. It assuredly is not.
”Really you two bore me to death, why don’t you just pack up your bags and go?”
The only thing of which I am one of two is my twin brother. What would you think of me had I said that to you?
“Did the English teacher share with you his bursting file on me, Donny?”
Who is this English teacher? “Bursting file on you?” Now you are scaring me, cabbagejuice. And, again, I haven’t lost any thread. My objections have been consistent; it is not what you say, but how you say it. Well, that and the subjectivity/objectivity issue.
“You can only concoct up ad homonym arguments…”
My argument has not been “ad homonym, it is central, and reasonably consistent for this informal kind of discussion. If my criticism of someone for stealing candy, thereby besmirching his character, is ad homonym, well then, yes, I am guilty.
“turning a pigskin into a silk purse”.
To revisit this adage, I do enjoy your use of it here. You have been a challenging and witty disputant.
Please accept my genuine wish that you have a lovely and fulfilling day.
I just noticed that I misread the sense of your first comment which, of course, affected my response. If you say you are nursing no anger, than I am pleased. At least my misinterpretation led to my assurance to you that I certainly do not feel, nor have I felt, any anger toward you.
Best she should have the last word… it’s getting more personal than Arts Journal is designed to tolerate.
May I recommend the recent post: “Is there a lovelier way…” a vibrant series of Jewish folk music from various areas and eras– a much more worthy use of your attention IMHO… one of the best topics in a while.
It has been interesting having all our compliments summarily rejected.
The proper title is: Is there a lovelier (or more typical) Yiddish song … (posted yesterday).
@leginbuddha/Don I wish you would consistently use one name so as to lessen confusion. In fact, multiple usernames are not really permitted as far as I know. My post was directed at you and Richard in an attempt to economize on time and space. I’m also busy with extra work these days. It was clear in my post what remarks were directed to you and those to him.
It is astonishing or rather flattering, the time and effort involved in compiling a list of my comments (not only that, retyping them as one cannot cut and paste from this webpage – I wrote ad hominem not hominym). This is why I thought you derived some of your material from the English teacher, or at least says he is, AKA bestofjackieontheweb who runs a website of the same name. He also was concerned about my “tone” but of course not of those of my attackers. He was about to write an article based on my comments, typically singling out the student for humiliation. I’m still waiting to see it.
Those overly concerned about the moral hygeine of others, how can I say it, usually focus on whatever flaws they can pick out and take out of context so as to make themselves seem virtuous by comparison. All your ‘have a nice and fulfilling day’ you can stuff. It’s none of your business why and how I say something, how I respond to actual insults or be disappointed that I don’t sugarcoat information or my concern about dangerous vocal practices that carry some emotional tone that you think shouldn’t be there. You and Richard are desperately trying to make me look like an irrational harpy. That in itself is more than ungracious. What would Buddha say about that?
Of course yours is a rhetorical question. Nevertheless, is it always appropriate to rely on what Buddha or Jesus would say? Perhaps, either or both would tell everyone involved carry on without taking things so personally. Then again, perhaps they would not. Isn’t it the idea that all of us have our own internal Buddha or Jesus to help us with such questions?
I believe the innocence and purity of children like Jackie Evancho and Amira Willighagen shows in their performances. This is part of the ‘indefinable’ quality which garners for these youngsters so much esteem, personally and musically. It is this element which technical and professional analyses often miss. In fact, this kind critical appraisal can blind one to this seemingly ‘magical’ quality altogether. To be sure, this is not to be naively dismissive of technical criticism! I think it fair to say that those on the technical side are more apt to see something many of us do not. We, on the other hand, are more likely to see something that the technical side tends to miss. One should not allow professional pride to blind him/her to this seemingly ‘magical’ quality, in the same we that one should not allow ones more visceral appreciation and less mediated perception blind him/her to the technical elements of a performance.
In the Washington Post October 31, appeared an article specifically about the sudden viral popularity of Amira in the above cited video.
Anne Midgette writes: “Dissociated from all vestiges of their original meaning or style, these arias have become a meme, a vehicle for a certain kind of popular crossover pseudo-operatic sound… I believe there are a number of cases of little girls these days who work to make sounds well beyond their years. I find it fascinating that this particular aesthetic has enough appeal to reach young girls…At least it shows an interest in music, albeit music as a vehicle: that is, when a nine-year-old perfectly mimes adult performance, she is focusing on something slightly different than a nine-year-old who is working on her scales.”
Just guessing at CJ’s response to all untrained vocalists: just imagine a twelve-year-old son taking your car keys, jumping in the family car alone, taking it up the street, making a snappy u-turn, showing every sign of proficiency, coming back to you and announcing he’s taking over all future family driver/chauffeur functions– forget about licenses, driver training,etc … he’s ready whether you are or not and aghast as you may imagine being over such a situation is how I suspect CJ feels with untrained singers… and I think I know her by now.
Actually, I agree with CJ more than it might seem. I think she compromises the effectiveness of her opinion, however grounded in knowledge, with her ‘superior’ demeanor. And, I do appreciate that many of those with whom she has had the most spirited exchanges are, in their own way, every bit as smug. I have seen that snobbery runs in two directions. To be sure, I have to watch myself in this regard. I wouldn’t claim to know her but, on some level, she does have my respect. It is, however, difficult to be open to someone’s opinion when they slight you with its delivery. Lol
You’re using a second pseudonym. Please stick to one.
This came out of confusion and lack of attention. It will be leginbuddha from now on.
@richardcarlisle Know thyself before claiming to know others.
“My guess is that these people who get so incensed about someone critizicizing their raw-talent idols are taking it personally. My guess is that one of the things they’re attracted to is the mythology of the overnight success, because they can fantasize about it happening to them, too.”
Nigelbuddha I presume is leginbuddha AKA Don McKee. I thought that using mupltiple aliases were not permitted here. As for acerbic delivery you sure have cause and effect mixed up. But I am not the only one who has commented on the vindictiveness of Jackies’s fans. As was pointed out by others, objective criticism is perceived as slinging mud when actually that is what they are in the habit of doing. I could go to the archives and compile a sizable list of actual insults but I am too busy for that. Turnabout is fair play but I haven’t descended to the level of insults.
As for sugarcoating flatness, jaw waggle, breathing between syllables, etc., etc., just stating the facts, ma’am.
First, I apologize for using my actual name (Don McKee) This was the result of confusion that even I cannot explain. As you can see, I wasn’t trying fool anyone as I occasionally used both names on the same post. The reason I went to the archives for those insults is that you threw it in my face to to give you an example of even just one. Look at your post of Nov 14, at 8:59 am.
@leginbuddha You wrote: “I think it fair to say that those on the technical side are more apt to see something many of us do not. We, on the other hand, are more likely to see something that the technical side tends to miss. One should not allow professional pride to blind him/her to this seemingly ‘magical’ quality,”
There is a story about the pianist Myra Hess’ page turner who noted that on the top of the page was written, “look up here” (in rapture one supposes).
A professional would not be carried away by the magic as much as another magician who knows the tricks. Someone pointed out in one of the recent articles, that Jackie giggles even before the song is over, meaning going out of character to achieve the cute effect that wows the fans.
“I love you” when said from the stage or when written in one of her latest tweets, “I just found out that the Fresno concert was cancelled, I love you” really stretches the limit of mature belief. One has to be really disingenuous to swallow that kind of contrived PR.
Think about this carefully. How many opera singers have said to their audience, more particularly to their fans, “I love you”? Little girls giggle spontaneously, not “deliberately for affect”. You are turning perfectly normal behavior into something it is not. That you wrote these things for all to see, stretches the limit of MY mature belief. I respect the things you say which come from your knowledge of music, but here, for your own reasons, you are attaching guile to to something which is in all likelihood anything but. Now, if you commented from the standpoint that every human act is a selfish one, you are right, but then you invalidate your own statement.
@David As I wrote before, imitation is an important part of learning. Students frequently come to a vocal studio with a mimicked sound of their idols. This is OK as it got them in the door. However, it needs to be explained that the work is to sound like themselves, unique in the world! It was admitted that Amira got her model from youtube. I was astounded at the extent of actual copying by Jackie because I did give her the benefit of the doubt that at least the phrasing was hers. Here and there but more in the past, her real voice came out when the production was freer. The high and light quality extends to her speaking voice which causes me to believe she is a soprano, possibly coloratura. I think that it is possible to predict which way a girl’s voice will go in the future.
This will never happen with a manufactured murky sound. I feel she can be much better than now if a stop is put to all these melodramatic and in the main recycled performances that only compound the bad habits.
Just watched the video. Badly sung, tasteless, visually manipulative, artificial, reprehensible and irresponsible are some of the nicer things I could say about this paean to the gutter.
“tasteless, visually manipulative, artificial and reprehensible” can easily said from another point of view, of opera in general. “paean to the gutter” and “tasteless” could likewise be said about the particular opera from which this girl sings an aria.
@nigelbuddha I am sorry you were confused about your usernames. I suggest that lack of clarity extends to my posts. I don’t know what the heck you are talking about or what you are trying to prove except dilute my credibility. There are no posts by me on November 14th at 8:59.
As with singing, you can walk on by if you don’t like it, the same with perceived insults. In other words, get over it, dude.
Here are the posts where you asked for the examples:
@Don McKee I was just scrolling up to try to figure out what you were on about. Can you cite specific examples of intellectual bullying that caused pain? Nov 11 9:22 am
Don McKee See, you didn’t provide ONE instance of intellectual bullying which is itself a fuzzy ehough concept to sling around to spread blame. Nov 12 5:17 am
Have you heard JEs Keeks snippits? If so, does it tell you anything about how she is coming along?
@buddha If you’re directing the question to me, I don’t really care.
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