Friday, September 02, 2005

Keep on Truckin'

Today's Indy Star stole has an article from the Washington Post about Carl Tanner, trucker/bounty hunter-turned-opera star. Mr. Tanner's story is an interesting one, but the article is also intriguing for the singer's critique of the Met's hiring practices.

"The Metropolitan Opera should be developing American singers, looking for them," Tanner continues. "But in my case, they waited until I was famous to give me my first chance. It's an American house, but they keep giving the big contracts to these Europeans."

I tend to view musicians as individuals, rather than representatives of their countries. The best individuals should be hired, regardless of their nationality. Plus, I think the Met has been developing American singers with its regional contests and Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, which surprisingly develops young American singers. Perhaps Mr. Tanner was just unaware of these programs, or he has some sour grapes at being premiered at the ripe age of 44, or maybe he ate too many of those truck stop breakfast burritos.


Carolyn-Anne Templeton said...

Exactly. It seems ridiculous to judge a singer based solely on their nationality. After all, there isn't one central language of operas at the Metropolitan- the singers should mirror the universality of their art. The burritos comment made me laugh.

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Thanks for commenting, Carolyn-Anne! Now another question is whether classical vocalists use too much vibrato. You may be interested in the strong debate going on at the Composer's Forum.

Carolyn-Anne Templeton said...

If you had asked me that a two years ago, I would have answered with a strong affirmative. However, I've come to realize in my lessons that vibrato is essential for me to have a legato line and thus for breath control. This sounds strange, but that's how it affects me personally. Of course, there are times when vibrato is simply too much (generally in aging singers) or when it's innapropriate (you don't want to hear a bunch of vibrato in a Palestrina piece), but on the whole vibrato adds a very unique and vibrant sound to the voice, and I've found that, except in a few very rare instances, a vibratoless voice sounds rather anemic. The best example I can think of at the moment is Emmy Rossum in the Phantom of the Opera movie... it was completely unbelievable that any opera fan would choose Christine's lifeless voice, even if the "primadonna"'s voice was completely overdone. I just couldn't imagine character's like Carmen, Despina, or Zerlina without the life that vibrato adds to the voice. There are times when vibrato is called for and times when it isn't. I think that opera calls for it. And I've just practically written an essay, but oh well.

Hucbald said...

What do you call a woman on the arm of a Tenor?

A tattoo.

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Ouch, man! I think I'm going to have to look up guitarist jokes.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You know, the biggest/most important contract at the Met might be Renee Fleming's. She's from upstate New York, isn't she?

Mr. Tanner is a heldentenor. The leading heldentenor at the Met is, I would think, Ben Heppner, who is, well, American, strictly speaking, as a Canadian.