I was recently looking for local companies that put on operas in Chicago to audition for when I stumbled upon a group called Da Corneto. Their philosophy is based upon beautiful music and beautiful singing, something that they feel most companies have lost touch with with their flashy or more disturbingly modern productions. They disregard the notion that an opera singer is a "singing actor" and think that they are at most an "acting singer". As such they put on I guess what I would call partially staged productions, no sets, no costumes aside for a few character pieces and minimal staging. They do this to emphasize vocal line and powerful choral and orchestral passages.
This is really mostly interesting because it goes against a current and a call for change in the world of performing opera. Gone are the days where it was permissible to merely stand and sing. You can't just be a singer you must be a powerful convincing actor as well. Audiences simply are not convinced that Lucia goes raving mad while she's standing stark still singing ridiculously complicated ornamentation. So as a result a lot of time and effort on the part of the singer is devoted to convincing acting on top of beautiful singing. Ideally non of the beauty of line or power of the music ought to be lost because of acting or other production values. This does not mean however that this is not sometimes the case.
The death of Pavoratti in some ways marked the end of an era of standing and presenting beautiful music. He never made more than a cursory effort towards acting, and people loved him. He just cared about making beautiful music. So I don't know if Da Corneto is continuing a tradition worth carrying on, whether they are holding on to a tradition of the past, or whether it is simply creating a different operatic performance option for Chicagoans. I do know that it is intentionally turning a blind eye to modern production practices and a modern trend towards believable acting. A trend that I see as good for in many ways, yet can easily slip into trouble.
There is a reason why the fat lady no longer sings. You simply can not make it in the operatic world unless you are of a certain desirable build. Directors frequently ask singers to loose weight, something even more traumatic for a singer than for an actor, because the quality of your voice is intrinsically tied in with your body. So to change the physicality of your body is to change the way that you sound and the way that you need to sing. Tricky business.
Closing the door, leaving the lights on
4 years ago