Musical Theatre taking note of Opera

It isn't surprising (to me) to find opera singers taking the stage in the American musical theatre. A review by Anthony Tommasini speaking about several recent forays into the musical world by opera singers. He speaking about the "melting lyricism" and the "timeless melodies" of the older musicals and how the more recent "pop infused scores" don't require the same skills.

Later in the review he discusses the move Broadway made in the 60's toward amplification of the voice. Certainly this made a less able singer capable of hitting the back row. But he also discusses the lack of diction in spoken dialog when performed by opera singers. They spend more time learning to sing in a variety of languages and not speaking clearly on stage.

While I think these are all valid points, I fail to see why Opera can't take a book out of musical theatre. Modern opera should require the singers to more articulate, perhaps not with dialog, but with recitative that really forwards the plot of a story, rather than just waxing lyrical.

I'm all for the natural, rather than the amplified voice for many things, but there are things that electronics can do that just can't be replicated with the voice - reverb, delay are just a few effects that come to mind. Opera use to be the place of innovation and now it's the place of status quo. Perhaps what Opera needs is not to so much loan out it's quality voices to the musical theatre, but take a page from musical theatre and begin exploring the vast world of lyrics that bring characters to life (which means they need to be fully understood), electronics that can enhance the voice in a miriad of ways and there is no reason opera can't be infused with pop and still require the technical skill we've come to expect.

It isn't ready for prime time, but "It Must Be Fate" has every intension of doing all of the above and more...


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