Can Belto

On the art of singing and those who practice it…

The Decade in Review

Yes, I know that for many the decade is not over because there-was-no-year-0-and-because-there-was-no-year-0-a-decade-never-ends-on-the-year-0. You can spare me because the Gregorian calendar was 4-7 years off and therefore we are not really in 2010 but more likely in 2017, plus traditionally the beginning of decades have been celebrated on years ending in zero (0), so we could argue that the first decade of the modern world began in the year 10 and what happened before that was just 9 years.

That being said, a celebrated blogger asked in her blog for people to come up with end of the decade lists of important events that shaped or changed the opera world. In tongue in cheek fashion, I came up with the following 10 events and i wanted to share them with you as well. Happy belated new year and Happy (even advanced if you want) beginning of a new decade.

Decade in review: 10 events that gave the opera world a lot to talk about:

  • Villazon enters and exists (and enters and exists and enters and exits) and enters again the world of opera. We are still waiting to see if this one will stick…
  • The Met replaces its Zefirelli Tosca with another traditional production. Some people bitch because it is too traditional, some people bitch because it was not traditional enough, some bitch because it is not by Zefirelli. So the Met has to make peace with the fact that the unifying theme of the new Tosca is the fact that people went  out of their way looking for reasons to hate it.
  • Peter Gelb takes over the Met. Some people bitch because he is not traditional enough, some because he is too safe and some because he is not Volpe; once again proving that not everyone will love you for your pretty face. His marketing strategies prove that he is a genius and he changes the face of entertainment for years to come. His ability to recognise talent (outside a set of double D’s) is still under review.
  • For the first time in nearly a century, an opera house actually leads the way in the entertainment business. Yes, I am talking about the Met in HD series. At first people said it was a loosing proposition, now it is seen as the first of its kind and performers everywhere in the world from the Jonas brothers to Celine Dion are elbowing their way to cash in with their own Live in HD transmissions. Rummors of a 3 Tenors Reunnion Concert in HD sweep the world, but no confirmation as of yet…
  • We get a 3rd British invasion. The invasion starts in the late 90’s when the Commonwealth sends artists like Sarah Brightman & Charlotte Church. It reaches critical mass with artists like Paul Potts, Susan Boyle, and Katherine Jenkins. The imitators are not far behind and we get Bocelli, Josh Groban, Il Divo, Opera Babes, Amici and the rest. The effect is swift, half the world is giddy and the other half believes that it is not true what they say about the education system in the USA being the worst in the world.
  • After a year of fierce battle, Blue Ray wins the format war. This means that opera nuts the world over can let a sigh of relief as they trash their DVD’s and start over their collections with the new format, just like collectors from generations past did when the 78, the 10 inch, the LP, the 8 track and the cassette died a brutal death at the hands of newer technologies.
  • iPods and the iTunes store signal the beggining of the end for the CD. With the introduction and worldwide acceptance of the iPod, digital music is seen as a force to be reckon with and sales of traditional CDs plummet. This causes panic in the upper circles of opera conousieurs because, in their words, the new generation will not know where to go to find their music.
  • The economic environment of the new Millenium propels the death of opera houses in places as varied as Baltimore, San Diego and NYC. Others are sent to intensive care and others are just relieved Mortier never came to NYC, the health of the company be dammed; we dogged that bullet.
  • Maria Callas’ widows all over the globe celebrate the 30th anniversary of her death. Worldwide sales of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Cymbalta skyrocket as Sopranos all over turn to medication to deal with the fact that they still have to hear that bitch’s name as a reason why they will never measure up.
  • A new crop of younger, thinner singers emerge. The backlash is swift and brutal. Charges of singing the wrong rep, or too early or too heavy are thrown like popcorn at a bad movie premiere. Calmer voices try to bring some sense into the discussion but are quickly shoved against a wall (and against their will) by opera nuts. Expert sociologists are called in and they discover that the fans are always 20-30 years too late to see the singers of the golden age. Counter experts say that it doesn’t matter now that Callas is dead and that the level of teaching and taste is worse than they have ever seen; proving that either a group of people have found the fountain of youth or that audiences will never change and in 10 years we will be having the same old fights with the same old terminology.


January 10, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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