Now that Peter Gelb is at the helm of the Met, we can expect that opera is going to go in new directions, whether people like it or not. Expect electronics to invade the Met, and all opera, and by that I don’t mean just amplification of the voices. I mean composers from the worlds of rock and contemporary music are going to be asked to write operas and the operatic voices are going to sing them, and what in the world will we call THAT? Operock? Popera? (No, that’s saved for the likes of Il Divo). How about Rockera?
Don’t laugh. Thirty years ago I was asking the voice scientists “Why don’t you research other styles of music?” THIRTY YEARS AGO. Now, it’s happening all over the world. The scientists are finally entering into the 21st century. It won’t take long for the rest of the musical world to catch up and then, when the singers are asked to do whatever we call it…….operapop?……who is going to train them and how will that training look? Won’t we need both our classical roots and our CCM Pedagogy?
Thirty years from now I will either be dead or too old to care, but I hope that this statement rings in the ears of those who are threatened by change. I hope that it will be seen by then that the arts must stay alive to be meaningful and that the human voice is never EVER limited in what it can do or express. Technology can help us or hurt us, but that decision is up to us.
In 1977 when I wrote in my journal that I wanted voice science to understand what happens when someone sings “pop” music, I was 28 years old. I was viewed as an upstart, I suppose, by the scientists, but they treated me nicely, anyway, in that I was at least interested in their work. The voice teachers who came to the Symposium in those days used to stand up and say to these researchers that they were “way off base” in thinking they could try to figure out the “art of singing” by making those “funny charts and graphs”. They were wrong. The scientists were much more tolerant of the teachers than vice versa. Now, when there is so much partnership between the various voice disciplines, the people squawking about science not being “in touch” with singers are the ones who are looked at as being “weird”. Time passes, things and attitudes change.
To those young people who are reading this, remember, the future is unimagined, and you never know where your vocal folds will fly. Never say no to what comes your way. Find a healthy, happy and truthful way to sing it, and grow into that creative experience. You never know what you will end up being able to teach to the NEXT generation!