Friday, September 30, 2005

Where's my smoke machine?

Apparently, lasers are the key component missing in the young singer's ongoing struggle to achieve success in the frustrating and arbitrary world that is opera. At least, this is the case according to the man whose vision, last night, brought together all of the chichi, Mr. and Mrs. Richey McMoneybags who love to be associated with the arts without having to be in any way involved with the artists, to donate heavily and applaud in the middle of unfinished arias. When introducing the young singers competing in his event (for admission to which he required the submission of a CD and a full-length body shot), he, with the invaluable aid of my other favorite bow-hunting, name-dropping, microphone-hogging, faux opera benefactor, told the audience that some of us have worked for FOUR WHOLE YEARS on our singing and we do so without costumes, props or lasers. Lasers? Who the fuck are we, Pink Floyd? Is this the Grand Coulee Dam? And FOUR YEARS??? Try 14, motherfucker.

My lovely friend Christy competed and sang the shit out her aria and won second place and $500. However, the girl who won, and who I thought was pretty mediocre, had spectacular cleavage. Christy and I have discussed the role of cleavage in an audition or competition many times. Those who tart up win. Always. The reason for this, we believe, is that judges are often men, and gay men love cleavage as much as straight men. And, because most middle age women are envious of twentysomething womens' pert and perky boobs, they are swayed by plunging decolletage as much as the next, well, guy. The judges last night were all men. Not that Christy's cleavage should be sneezed at. It's quite impressive. It's just that her neckline didn't graze her navel.

It is inevitable that the singer I like the least will win. This happens at every single competition I've watched, with one exception. The blandest, most boring hunk of wood with the most inoffensive voice seems to win over those with actual presence and obvious skill in all areas of the art. I think that the spark of life and (dare I use this cheesy-ass word) passion that you see in singers who have a career of merit frighten people when they witness it close up. It takes the viewer out of their comfortable happy place and into the singer's world, where you can fall in love at first sight, fling a baby into a fire or kill your groom on your wedding night in a fit of insanity. Auditions and competitions in small houses or rooms are dangerous. What sounds huge in a church could sound tiny in a medium to large opera house, and someone who seems too intense in a small space will read to the balcony in a large house. If I hear that my voice is too big for a role one more time, I'm going to start bringing a machete to auditions. My voice doesn't sound too big in a theater, just in this 50 person conference room you rented because you don't have your own venue, you hack. I hope that those who truly possess the brilliance and artistic integrity to bring their fire to each event at which they sing don't become discouraged because the safest person won or got the role. You can't be safe in this career.

Now bring on the lasers.

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