15 May 2007

About the Met at the Multiplex, Alex Ross writes:

No sooner did the H.D. phenomenon take off than opera traditionalists started worrying that the technology would distort musical values. They have forecast a dire era of photographable faces and forgettable voices mixed with outbreaks of crossover kitsch. The danger certainly exists ... but I’m guessing that the broadcasts will ultimately favor singers who can sing and act, rather than those who simply look good on posters.
If only the two were the only choices. How about a singer who sings well but can't act? Another singer who sings very well but can't act and is fat? Would Gelb's operatives choose either of them over the said "singer who simply looks good on posters"? I'm not so sure. So Ross suggests:
If, as rumor has it, some Met veterans are investing in plastic surgery and crash diets, they’d do better to buy acting lessons.
But if holistic "acting" for the big screen places a premium on the actual physical body and face as much as on movement and gesture (as compared to the in-house experience, where many seats are a city block away), then perhaps acting lessons in the end won't be able to overcome the increasing tendency for the Hollywood kind of physical "truth" implicitly desired by these simulcasts. Therefore some money may ultimately be needed to erase the eyebags off the aging Butterfly, or to suck out the extra poundage from the Rubenesque Mimi. These are extreme examples, certainly, but the sad reality is that they are less extreme today than they were just a season ago.