Posted inInterview

More Than a Symbol

Opera is often a long game. Voices take time to mature (which is why so many 40-something singers play teenage lovers). Singers also face pressure to commit to a career early on in order to get into the right schools and study with the right teachers. The economics of an opera house or major recording […]

Posted inEssay

The Price of Luck

Imagine there is a contest, one that will run in perpetuity until the end of time, in every city on Earth. There are no true losers, and there’s no limit to how many people can win. If you win this contest, you’re set for life: No matter where you live or how long you live […]

Posted inReport

Trial and Error

In November 2021, two trumpets of the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal in western Germany slithered up a chromatic motive at the beginning of the fourth movement—the “Tuba Mirum”—from Antonin Dvořák’s Requiem before disappearing into an unsettling augmented woodwind chord. The kind of exposed orchestral passage that only registers as difficult when someone cracks a note or the […]

Posted inOpinion

Consumed in the Culture

Orchestral musicians have unusually challenging jobs. Many musicians have had to move to a new city for their careers and work odd hours that separate them from the support of family and friends. There are exacting physical demands, and training for their livelihoods starts at a very young age. Auditioning for a job is highly […]

Posted inOpinion

Off Key

The confused responses were rolling in. It was later in the morning than I’d like to admit when I woke up and pawed my phone off my nightstand, and it took a few minutes of baffled blinking at my notifications before I realized that my satirical riff on every classical music profile, “Meet the Pianist […]

Posted inReport

For Better, For Worse

At the beginning of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” we meet Marianne and Johan, a couple being interviewed for a magazine story about successful relationships. In the next scene, Marianne asks Johan, “Do you believe two people can spend a lifetime together?” “It’s a ridiculous convention passed down from God knows where,” he answers.“A […]

Posted inEssay

Ethereum Voices

On March 31, 2020, the Metropolitan Opera suspended paychecks for the musicians of its orchestra as its productions ground to a pandemic-induced halt. Some performers left New York City, refinanced their mortgages, or took early retirement. Others survived on a combination of Zoom lessons and unemployment. By the end of 2020, concert venues had reopened […]

Posted inInterview

The Dreams of Others

When you mention alto Dina König in front of her former colleagues, they insist on her musical excellence. That’s because, in September 2020, König gave up her burgeoning career as a singer of early music. Instead, she decided to become a tram driver with the local public transportation system in Basel, Switzerland.  Musicians often view […]

Posted inReport

“The Perfect Voice in the Wrong Body”

“A chubby bundle of puppy fat.” “Unsightly and unattractive.” “Repulsive figure.” These comments count as professional feedback in the world of opera. At first glance, they may appear to be isolated cases; only seldom does body shaming make headlines in the opera industry. The most prominent exception was the “little black dress” which did not […]

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