Evolution of image in opera


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  • Who hasn’t heard of the saying, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”? This colloquialism stems from the perception of Grand Opera, more specifically, overweight sopranos. As a vocal performance major studying classical voice, the common response when people hear that I plan on becoming an opera singer is, “…well, aren’t you suppose to be fat to do that?”. I usually respond to this question by saying, “Although heftier people have more room to expand their lungs, the voice needs three things to function well: a power source, which are your lungs, articulators, which include your tongue and lips, and a vibrating valve, which are your vocal folds. Being fat is not a requirement for one to be able to sing well.”
  • Some arguments that defend being hefty as an integral part of being an opera singer include: *Opera singers are fat because the size of the chest wall gives more room for the singer’s voice to resonate making it louder and more powerful than the skinny (or skinnier) singer.* Opera singers are fat because the type of mouth needed to create a ‘good voice’ is often a round mouth, which incidentally is the same type of person with a round face, which also incidentally is the kind of person with the round body type. *Another theory that Freud would be most interested in, is that Opera singers are fat because they are oral people. They give so much out through their mouths, so to compensate they have to put a lot back in. So they eat. And therefore they are fat.
  • As you may have inferred from my previous commentary, I do not believe being overweight is an integral part of being a great opera singer. This stereotype came about because the majority of the most talented and popular opera singers up until the 21st century, have been overweight. It goes without question that the opera singers depicted on this slide have exceptional, world-class voices. Luisa Tetrazzini, depicted on the bottom left, was an internationally acclaimed Italian coloratura soprano, and is now thought to be eponymous of the popular American dish Turkey Tetrazzini. Deborah Voigt, depicted on the top left, is irrefutably one of the best Brünnhildes of all time, while Montserrat Caballé, depicted on the top right, is known as one of the finest interpreters of bel canto repertoire. Luciano Pavarotti, depicted on the bottom right, is the most commercially successful tenor of all time.
  • Evolution of image in opera

    1. 1. Evolution of Image in Opera and its Consequences <br />Alexandra Kotis<br />