Ok, no tie. But couldn’t he wear a shirt?

Ok, no tie. But couldn’t he wear a shirt?


norman lebrecht

December 02, 2015

Roberto Alagna was honoured yesterday with the title Austrian Kammersänger at the Vienna State Opera.

The certificate was presented at a formal state ceremony by the Federal Minister for Arts and Culture Josef Ostermayer and the Opera chief Dominique Meyer.

Did no-one advise Roberto on dress code?

alagna kammersanger



  • Eddie Mars says:

    He’s not a banker. He’s a singer.

    • V.Lind says:

      Not a very well-mannered one, it would seem. It is courteous to dress appropriately to your surroundings and hosts, and a T-shirt is really not attire a grown man should be wearing anywhere in a professional context. The old saw about how he is an artist and all that really gets a bit stale as a cover for idleness or rudeness or can’t-be-arsedism.

      • Eddie Mars says:

        He wore smart, fashionable clothes which cost four times what the other two bank clerks in the picture are wearing – with their smug faces and polyester suits.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Believe what you like. They are not polyester.

          • Alvaro says:

            THE NERVE. You are right norman. In fact, he should’ve also worn a powered wig, makeup and showed up in a horse carriage to the ceremony.

            Where’s his sense of style?

  • Gina says:

    Actually, that is just a kind of snobbery, you have decided he is disrespectful because he is wearing a tee shirt. Who made those rules? Why is your opinion of what he wears more important than his? You don’t know why he decided to wear that, you don’t know how much it cost, you don’t know if he was wearing a shirt and it got spilled on. You are merely passing judgement based on your own view of what is acceptable and what is not. He has his own view of that and that doesn’t require a visit by the clothes police. He is decently dressed and clean and clearly comfortable and that is fine. My little boy, who is 8, has been going to the opera since he was 6. He loves opera and everything about it. Sometimes he wears his little 3 piece suit, once he went as a dragon because he loves that outfit, Pirates of Penzance…well, you can guess, he once wore wellies because they were brand new and had robots on. All completely different ways he brought something meaningful to him to the opera, each was respectful in it’s own way. It was about sharing something important to him. I hope he keeps that open minded approach as he grows. No one needs to be told how to dress or have someone else’s definition stamped on the top of that.

  • Eddie Mars says:

    This is part of why people are deserting classical music. The ‘dress code’ is what your granddad wears. In Hollywood or on Broadway, stars do not wear banking suits.

  • Stephen says:

    Alagna can wear what he likes: I switch off now whenever he is announced on radio or TV. Such a strained voice!

  • ND22 says:

    Dear Mr Lebrecht, congrats for this key question, and many thanks to brilliantly point out something that strucks me when I see the photos of Mr Alagna: what a smart way to dress for an artist, and to find the right balance between self-expression, elegance and modern touch!

    As a lyrical singer and artist, I thing his dress code is just perfect, all the most when you know that he was rehearsing Tosca the same day at the Wiener Staatsoper, making a break for the official KS ceremony. I fully agree with Eddie and Gina’s comments above. Mr Meyer is dressed as a director, Mr Ostermayer as a politician and Mr Alagna as a classy artist.

    Look at stylish KS Roberto Alagna this same day:
    >>> http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/345140AlagnaKS2015.jpg

    Did no-one advise you, Mr Lebrecht, about contemporary, fashionable outfit in a professional artistical context? No doubt that Mr Alagna was wearing a clean, appropriate and well-fitting outfit, in which he feels good.

    But have a look, some other random examples:
    >>> Jean Dujardin > http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/686353JeanDujardin.jpg
    >>> Ryan Gosling > http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/694440RyanGosling.jpg
    >>> Brad Pitt > http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/407067BradPitt.jpg
    >>> Colin Farrel > http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/959786ColinFarrell.jpg
    >>> A glamour “Fashion show” > http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/777391GlamourFashion.jpg
    >>> Oo and look, during the Echo Award ceremony, Andreas Ottensamer > http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/548044AndreasOttensamerecho.jpg

    It sounds like Alagna is at the cutting edge of smart fashion isn’t it? And even ahead of it: look at this classical music award ceremony in 2004, ten years ago:
    >>> http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/378975VictMusiqueAlagna2004.jpg

    But when it all shakes down, maybe you’re right … Mr Alagna’s outfit is too sober and conventional… Maybe a tie would have been better … like that? 🙂
    >>> http://img11.hostingpics.net/pics/117723Fashiontrend.jpg

    • Alvaro says:

      100% agreed but, how much free time do you exactly have?

      If you are going to make a dissertation out of every post in this blog that shows bigotry, condescendence, and prejudice, you might want to quit your job altogether…

    • John Borstlap says:

      All examples demonstrate chic casual, which means: I don’t give a damn but for the occasion, I quickly slip into a jacket. Formal, official professional men’s dress in Europe, especially in the prestigious professions, are: shirt + tie, jacket, trousers (this last item to be forwarded to the last example in your comment) and decent shoes.

      In the arts, many artists wear what they want because they think that they live ‘outside mainstream’ – a residu from the 19th century. On official occasions like receiving awards and the like, artists shoud dress professionally (shirt, tie, jacket) out of respect for the occasion, it is not the appropriate situation to sport one’s romanticcally-hip 19C image – which is outdated, sentimental and conventionally-bourgeois anyway.

      All this doing-away with ‘traditional dress’ is part of the erosion of civilization because what comes in its place is not some OTHER form of formal dress, but the ABSENCE of it. And what hollywood stars like to dress when in the flash lights is entirely irrelevant, they are fodder for the masses anyway, so let them (the masses) have what they prefer.

  • Hanz Christian says:

    Ah! Dress-code talk and social pressure in ‘Opera Talk’.

    Did he bow his head? Did he kneel before the queen? Does he have proper manners according to the ruling class?