Sunday, November 05, 2006

No, Not Exactly

Alex Ross takes heart, or something, from the fact that tenor Lawrence Brownlee got the idea of being an opera singer from the Three Tenors. I think he's missing the point. It's not that I object to drawing conclusions, even fuzzy ones, from a single data point; lacking sophisticated polling mechanisms, the most anecdotal evidence will do just fine for us thumb-suckers. It's that he's mixed up supply and demand.

No one has ever made any claims about the influence of the Three Tenors on the development of opera singers (indeed, I don't think anyone but Tony Tommasini is particularly concerned about that aspect of the operatic economy). The question is how to develop the audiences for opera, and whether Plácido and the boys have helped that process in any way. I don't see any reason to think they have, although we could always argue it over a few more times. But either way, Lawrence Brownlee's story doesn't add anything to that debate.

4 Comments:

At 11/05/2006 7:26 PM, Blogger Alex Ross said...

I seem to see a question mark in that post I wrote! I can't be "missing the point" when I haven't asserted anything, beyond that "nobody knows anything," including myself.

 
At 11/07/2006 9:27 PM, Blogger Henry Holland said...

Ooohhh, bicoastal critic fight! [settles in to chair and gets a bowl of popcorn]

:-)

As for Mr. Kosman's question about whether the Three Tenors have/did build audiences:

While that ghastly album was storming the charts, SFO did a cash-in production of Turnadot. There were obviously a lot of newcomers due to the album.

About halfway through the first act, I noticed some of the crowd was getting restless. 2nd act, even moreso. Finally, The Hit Single From The Album came and they were rapt and attentive. Not long after it ended, back to the restless.

The album taught them that opera comes in 3-4 minute chunks, an absurd notion, of course.

 
At 11/11/2006 3:38 PM, Blogger Alex Ross said...

I definitely don't want to start a bicoastal fight with the formidable Kosman! The Three Tenors phenomenon is something that I've never really known what to make of, and I was just adding this bit of evidence to the pile. It's always mysterious and surprising how people come to music. Sometimes they are born into it, sometimes they blunder into it in unexpected ways.

 
At 12/26/2006 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fear that nothing short term truly develops audiences. It seems that the data supports it. Anecdotal or not if something sells a great deal of tickets it is a good thing.

 

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