- the Latest from NOTES on a blog -
Breaking news: Footage from the Wilson vault has recently been discovered!
Unveiled here for the first time -- my first performance.
This article discussing the anti-diva is not a new idea. I learned from the generation before me that in order to be a true professional you have to sing well and do your job. Basta. All of the other diva stuff is unnecessary. Long gone are the days of Callas and Del Monaco. I tend to believe a lot of their diva/divo behavior was a product of what the press said about them. People wanted to see the glamorous side of opera. They wanted the diva to take a 10 minute curtain call whilst holding roses. It was part of the magic when you attended the opera. Nowadays there are so many singers that are talented. Why work with a soprano with an attitude if there is another who can sing just as well and is pleasant to work with. The idea of a modern opera diva is heralded by the likes of Renee Fleming, Anna Netrebko, and Joyce DiDonato. People want to know the real person behind the facade. Yes, there are still glamorous moments. The gowns, jewelry, and jet-setting hasn't changed. What HAS changed is the fact that opera house employers want singers who work well with other people. If someone is being difficult, stubborn or someone who flat out refuses to collaborate, the end product suffers. I've seen shows where everyone is doing their own "star" versions of the roles they've performed for forever. You know what happens? You see a bunch of individuals onstage instead of a coherent cast of characters telling a story. Things feel disjunct. Not only does this apply to singers, there are directors and conductors who are also known to be very set in their ways and can exhibit diva/divo behavior. Again, the only thing to suffer is the show. I think general directors and managers have realized this now. Why create a hostile environment where personalities clash when you are trying to create art? It's hard enough to put up a show, why make it harder? I'm not saying people will never have a disagreement on style or approach and the like but there has to be a conversation between every single department of an opera house in order for a show to run smoothly.
To me a true diva knows what type of artist they are and tries to be true to that. If something is not good for them vocally, they speak up and explain how things can be made better. There is a way to stand up for yourself as an artist that doesn't include being rude or snobbish. The singers I admire tend to be the ones I have respect for. If a singer yells at their dresser or the crew, my opinion of their voice immediately diminishes. I tend to live by the principal, if my mother saw me acting that way, would she be disappointed? There is no excuse for diva behavior as we have known it. To me the new diva embodies the traits that create a person of high character. The very first definition of a diva when you type it into google is "a famous female opera singer." Only on the third definition does it define the temperament we commonly relate to today. I hope that someday that third line is gone and we can just get back to the roots of the word. A person who is excellent at opera.
Tra la la,
Hello out there! I am delighted to finally launch this project close to my heart --- my YouTube channel dedicated to the art, business and behind-the-scenes world of opera. Be sure to like and subscribe if you would like to see more. And If there is a topic you want me to talk about or elaborate on, let me know! Visit Channel >
All my best,
Hello 2013/14 -- it’s the beginning of a new season!
After a fairly nice and lengthy time at my new home in Texas, it was time to pack and head off again. I love the promise and optimism of an empty suitcase waiting to be filled with the well-oiled packing system I’ve become accustomed to. I have bins full of travel mini bottles, mini irons, mini everything really. I feel like Gulliver packing for Lilliput.
One thing that would be great is if evening dresses could be packed very small and then inflated like a life raft in perfect form and wrinkle free. Until that magic dress can be invented, I will continue to stuff dresses into my carry on to making sure that if luggage gets lost, at least I won’t have to perform in jeans.
I am beginning this season with a piece that I will perform many times this season, The Britten War Requiem. My first stop off is Buenos Aires and the Teatro Colón. I’m excited to sing this piece again. It’s one of the most exciting and difficult pieces in the repertoire. I challenge anyone to listen to the piece and not come away with profound feelings about the horrible futility of war. We shall see how this Buenos Aires audience feels after hearing it. I believe the last time they performed it there was in 1990.
Next time you hear from me I’ll be in Argentina!
I am back in Houston. The minute I drive over the Texas state line I’m reminded of how many good times I’ve had in this portion of America. I received my opera training in Houston. School teaches you the basics. It will give you the tools you need to survive but actually working in our industry follows a whole other learning curve. I’m happy that the place I learned and cultivated my ‘craft’ was in Houston. First off, the HUMIDITY, it can’t be beat. I sing better down here simply because there is more moisture in the air. It does horrible things for your hair but hey that’s why they invented the cowboy hat right? Probably not, I’m sure there was some actual design for the cowboy hat, but I digress. The other reason I love it here is the fact that I get to work and learn from some amazing people on a daily basis. I’m really excited to be doing just that in our current production of Il Trovatore.
When I did the Eleanor McCollum Competition in 2004-2005 there was a whole week’s worth of auditions. During that time the singers in the competition had the chance to see two shows, Idomeneo and Il Trovatore. Trovatore was the first show I saw at HGO and almost eight years later I am doing it, same production even. I remember seeing Sondra Radvanovsky as the Leonora thinking, “WOW! That is what I want to do someday.” It also happened to be the first Verdi opera I had ever seen/heard. It kinda changed my life. Since leaving the studio I have performed in two productions of Idomeneo and this current production will be my third Trovatore.
It’s weird to look back at the road I’ve traveled since leaving the HGO studio in 2007. I’ve been to four other continents and worked with some amazing people from all over the world. I’ve seen sights that I never thought I would see in my wildest dreams. I got to hold a dingo puppy for heaven’s sake. All that is wonderful but the thing that fills my heart with even more joy is coming back to the place where it all started.
Welcome to my blog. Here’s the thing, I’m a singer not a writer. If you are looking for the literary and poetic genius of Byron or Shelley you ain’t gonna find it here. That being said there may be a funny anecdote or two along the road that you can enjoy, no matter how horrendous the grammar is. Please overlook the occasional dangling participle (heaven forbid).
I often get questions on my Facebook page from younger singers asking about the singer life or other things of that nature. I thought that a blog would be a great place to air some of these topics. What I would like to do is every two weeks have a vlog where I will answer some of these questions directly. So send your questions to @tamschloo on Twitter or post a comment on the Tamara Wilson Facebook fan page.
Look forward to hearing from you!