The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1116  Monday, 14 May 2001

From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 12 May 2001 04:09:48 -0400
Subject: 12.1099 Re: Color-Blind Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1099 Re: Color-Blind Casting

>Isn't all of this rather like opera's use of overweight performers in
>romantic roles?  After the initial shock and amusement, the audience
>tends to forget everything but what they paid to see and hear: the
>story, the voices, the interpretation.

It is fallacious to compare the conventions of one art form with that of
another.  We attend the dramatic theater to be caught up in the action
on stage and, therefore, willingly suspend our disbelief that it is all
a fiction.  We attend operas, on the other hand, to be enthralled by the
music and thrilled by the spectacle.  It is almost impossible to
surrender enough disbelief to swallow the improbable libretti of most
operas.  In the U.S.  and U.K. we do not even understand most of them,
even if they are sung in English.  --  How many opera fans can pick out
the words sung by four singers in mixed quartets, or even catch most of
the words of a G&S patter song.  As Gilbert noted in Ruddigore, "This
particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn't generally heard, and if
it is it doesn't matter." -- Therefore, while a dumpy overweight
Violetta would be a hindrance in a dramatic version of The Lady of the
Camellias, she does no harm at all in La Traviata, provided she can sing
well enough.

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