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I’m writing this letter as I prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, since I thought it would be a good occasion to highlight something that has struck me about the opera world in recent years. I love opera and I’m a great fan of Opera Now – I’ve been reading the magazine regularly since 2001; but I can’t help remarking on a run of recent covers: Albina Shagimuratova, Elīna Garanča, Kristine Opolais and Marianne Crebassa are all attractive young women, photographed to emphasise their youthful, diva looks together with some aspect of a kittenish sexual allure. The most recent issue of the magazine (March 2017), on the other hand, had Thomas Hampson on the cover. He is a formidable artist, of course, as well as being a man of a certain age and experience, greying at the temples. He is photographed to highlight his downto- earth, approachable personality and his status as a ‘serious’ commentator on opera.

I do feel there is an imbalance here – not exactly sexism but an inability, whether conscious or not, to separate looks from achievement when it comes to celebrating the vast contribution that women have made on the operatic stage. When will Opera Now have the likes of Dame Felicity Palmer on the cover? Or indeed Dame Felicity Lott, Rosalind Plowright or Janis Kelly – all women who have made a huge impact on the international opera stage (and that is just a list of names from the UK), but who, on the very grounds of ‘age and experience’ have been overlooked in recent years as cover stars.

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Opera Now
March 2017

Other Articles in this Issue

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The Royal Opera House in London has announced the world
Welsh National Opera (WNO) is to establish a fully
Nicolai Gedda, who died on on 8 January, had an illustrious
Robert Thicknesse applauds an initiative that provides a platform for new works-in-progress while testing the idea of what opera can and should be for today’s creators and audiences
A chance encounter with a discerning voice coach prompted Darwin Leonard Prakash to trade in his life as a geology student in India to become a scholarshipwinning singing student in the UK, set for a high-flying career in opera. He tells his story to Amanda Holloway.
Singing is a family affair for Sophie Bevan, the British soprano whose radiant, versatile voice is proving irresistible to the world’s major opera houses. Robert Thicknesse meets a seriously grounded young singer with innate musicality, a vivacious sense of fun and a fearless onstage presence that makes you feel there is nothing her voice can’t tackle
The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is much more than just a competition. The weeklong event in June feels like an international festival rather than a gladiatorial contest, celebrating the operatic voice in all its many colours. Simon Rees looks forward to this year’s instalment in the Welsh capital
Opera Now looks ahead to some of this year’s key singing contests around the world
Jeremy Nicholas throws light on the hidden art of the répétiteur, first-rate pianists and all-round communicators who perform a vital but often unacknowledged role in the opera house
English Touring Opera’s education work represents some of the most successful and effective endeavours in this field, yet it receives no public funding. Robert Thicknesse meets Tim Yealland, the unsung hero of ETO’s outreach projects which help, enthuse, entertain and engage with marginalised audiences who might never otherwise have the chance to encounter opera
The American baritone Nelson Eddy (1901-1967) is remembered principally as a movie star whose velvety voice and amiable personality charmed filmgoers of the 1930s and ’40s. His onscreen celebrity has largely eclipsed his considerable accomplishments in the field of opera, where he diligently honed his natural talents as a singer
Irrepressible wit, flamboyant fantasy and subversive satire are the flavour of the month for Professor Anthony Ogus, taking the form of Russian whimsy at the opera in Brussels to Gallic effervescence among a group of lively students – in Manchester, of all places
Action-packed maestro Christophe Rousset founded his
Amanda Holloway visits the Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman’s unique performance venue which blends traditional craftsmanship with bold architectural statements from the country’s ancient past and forward-looking present
Mary Zimmerman’s handsome new production of Rusalka peeks beneath the opera’s fairy-tale Romanticism, exploring its Freudian dimension. The storytelling is clear; missing is the pathos of the water nymph who gives up everything for love of a mortal Prince
New York’s fifth annual Prototype Festival, a key source
This early Rossini opera seria (1813) is dramaturgically creaky, but it has some splendid music, and numerous opportunities for the three principals to display their pyrotechnical skill
Here’s a real rarity: Opera North launched its winter season of fairy-tale operas with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1881 setting of a traditional Russian folk tale, Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden). This was a polished performance of a neglected gem, with a glittering score that deserves more recognition
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