Not for socialites

I’ve been a casual watcher of Project Runway.  The designers are talented for sure, but there’s so much blah blah drama and the judges have some messed up judgment often.  How else can you explain awarding a win to such an ugly garment like this?:

Gretchens winning jumpsuit design

But still I watch an episode or two every season hoping that someone will not be nasty and talented.  I got excited when I saw that this week’s episode was about the designers creating dresses for the opera.  I was hoping there would be lovely scenes of the Met and all of their amazingly inspirational costumes.  And while the winning garment is certainly beautiful,

I was saddened by the elitist mentality that everyone had surrounding the phrase “a night at the opera.”  One of the comments was that one of the dresses needed to be more “socialite”.  If there is one thing that angers and frustrates me more, it’s this notion that opera is only for wealthy people who can afford dresses like the one above.  Or that the opera is only a place to parade around like a peacock, not a place where beautiful music is made in the context of inspirational design.  I don’t care whatever patron history the opera has always been tied to.  The stories told through opera hit on the core of the entire human situation, and it takes people from all different disciplines to pull off any given opera.  It’s a lot of people doing things excellently together.  When I go to the opera, I am not unaware that I am among a handful of people my age.  If opera as an art is to continue, a newer younger generation has to be educated to see it as an art form and not a class ballet that ignorant people like the Project Runway judges seem to believe it is.  And music educators like myself need to fight against all of the negative stereotypes that keep young people from listening to opera in the first place.

So while I won’t be attending my next opera in jeans and a t-shirt, there’s a reason why people of all walks of life lined the streets of Milan when Verdi died.

So watch Natalie Dessay talk about making people dream at the opera ( at 15:40), and listen and watch her here in La Fille Du Regiment (notice how she puts tension in every muscle and manages such flawless fluidity in her voice) and be inspired, formal gown or not.

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7 thoughts on “Not for socialites

  1. At least with that gold and black dress you don’t have to take all of your clothes off to go pee! Ha!! I hate thos pants suits, always have just for that reason!!

  2. Hear hear. I’ve never personally been much of an opera fan myself, which is probably blasphemy since I am a classically-trained musician. But a lot of what you said also applies to instrumental and orchestral music, so as a musician/teacher, I’m in full agreement with everything you said about allowing the art to survive.

  3. I suppose some forget that “dressing up” reflects the value of what you’re attending; the dress is a reflection, not the focal point!

  4. At performances by our local company Opera North in Leeds you would be less out of place in jeans than in that dress. The performances there are all about the music and the staging is innovative and surprising in every production. We are lucky to get a lot of young people in the audience – many are students from the College of Music but not all.

  5. Can you repost the Natalie Dessay link about making people dream at the opera, I think the verdi link was inserted by mistake.


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