The Stubbornness of Opera Stars
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
The stubbornness of formerly great opera singers is becoming increasingly apparent in today's opera world. We see it first and foremost in Plácido Domingo, who chose to retire as a tenor and instead perform baritone roles about two decades ago. Though I have the utmost respect for Mr. Domingo - in fact, he sings Calaf in my favorite recording of Turandot -, it makes me sad that he continues to perform, despite the decreasing quality of his voice. There are multiple reasons why he might do this: the first being that he loves doing it so much that he simply cannot stop; and the second being that, due to Domingo's popularity, opera houses constantly invite him to perform because he sells tickets, which makes him a lot of money.
The latter is more likely.
Another formerly great star who suffers from the same stubbornness is Roberto Alagna, a tenor who recently sang Rodolfo at the MET Opera. Alagna, like Domingo, is one of the greatest tenors of all time, but at the age of fifty-six, he cannot be compared to younger tenors like Juan Diego Florez. He accepts almost every job he is offered, which tires his voice, and consequently does not allow him to perform at a high level. Even if his performance level is low and his voice rusty, though, Alagna still receives standing ovations, and almost always sells out houses. Unfortunately, opera houses care more about selling tickets than bringing artists of the highest quality to their stages
I could go on and on about truly great artists such as Domingo and Alagna who have, in old age, succumb to money and fame, but I have made my point already. Both opera singers and opera houses seem to care about only one thing: money. At this point, we should be glad that there are still opera singers to begin with.