Welcome to the festival of shattered opera dreams

Welcome to the festival of shattered opera dreams


norman lebrecht

October 11, 2016

An opera personage, writing on the Schmopera site under conditions of anonymity, is about to set off on the annual season of auditions – possibly for the last time.

Too many rejections, too much unnecessary advice, unwarranted abuse. Time to call it quits? Or one last go…?

If it satisfies to continue along this path, go forth and let none of the idiots hold you back. Similarly, why feel compelled by guilt or a misplaced sense of shame to stay in the hunt when in brings about nothing but misery? Quit with pride and do something better for the world and for yourself.

Whatever you do, you oughtn’t give a damn about a callback.

The business of opera is at times wonderful and at other times loathsome. It is, sadly, mostly run by the ill-informed and the ill-equipped. It is therefore oftentimes arbitrary and frivolous though it can sometimes be sublime.

What it should never be is your whole life.

At this time of year, regardless of what happens, it’s worth remembering that and finding a little bit of perspective.

Happy Feast of the Shattered Dreams to you all.

Read the full article here.

Much of it hits nails hard on the head.


boston audition


  • David Osborne says:

    Sorry, I’ll have to put my usually measured and considered responses to one side- Anonymous? Weak as p***, get a spine, what a load of Bullsh**! So many scared to put their name to what they really think. (Not so much you, Milka). We need people to have the courage of their convictions and what’s more we need an artform where the powerful accept the right of people to disagree and criticise, without putting their careers in jeopardy… and no, if opera isn’t your all and your everything, do something else! Opera requires 100% commitment, it’s intrinsic. There are too many half-hearted part timers as it is! And another thing, where the hell is Borstlap?

    • Rupert G says:

      I really do not want to start a flame war here, but I cannot help but ask what your credentials are that you can opine as to whether a singer can afford to put their name to an opinion at which someone who might be in a position to hire him or her might take offense?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Um…if you don’t co-operate with the director and the conductor, your career won’t last very long in opera. Their job is to co-ordinate all the performers to make a coherent whole, and you have to fit in. By all means have an opinion, but at the end of the day, respect the fact that the ultimate responsibility lies with someone else.

  • clarrieu says:

    Borstlap is busy elsewhere, since none of his favorite keywords like “Boulez”, “Stockhausen” or “atonality” are tagged in this article, nor in your comment. “Bullsh**” doesn’t qualify as a keyword, it has to be “Boulz**” at less…

    • David Osborne says:

      Very good but given you just provided those keywords, John will be with us shortly!

      • John Borstlap says:

        Mr B has been sitting silently in the garden, apparently gathering ideas for his new piece, as he explained when asked by his worrying wife. But at 5:36 PM we saw him suddenly shivering and then running to the study, but Mrs B was there first, stopping him from typing the keyboard.

  • Anon says:

    An odd article, which leaves a bitter taste. S/he is happy to throw accusations but not to substantiate them (“it’s for another time”), and fails to propose any solution or alternative to the ills they see. Bizarre.

    • David Osborne says:

      What is most bizarre is the fact that people seem to think their ideas and opinions so dangerous that they themselves need to remain anonymous, Anon.

  • Russell Thomas says:

    I appreciate this article, although I wish the author had not remained anonymous. However, given the general contempt and vitriol hurled at anyone with a varying opinion of the state of affairs, I understand the need to remain anonymous.

    The author never claimed to have the answers, he/she was simply making an observation and giving opinions. As a singer that has been subjected to opinions over the years by persons with no training in music, voice, theatre, or other ‘relevant’ experience, I agree with every statement made.

    Instead of belittling the author for his/her desire to remain anonymous. Appreciate them for their insight and see what you may be able to differently in your own corner of this beautiful business.

    • Ducadiposa says:

      And kudos to you, an internationally lauded singer of great repute who would ‘risk’ commenting on a piece like this. It’s a very insightful post and unsurprising the author decided to remain anonymous. The opera world is actually tiny and precarious. Nothing wrong with wanting to call out a few dubious personalities and practices while protecting what little slice one might have carved out for oneself!

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    Just curious. Is the picture used here that of Boston’s Symphony Hall?

  • Stuart Goldstein says:

    What is “Santa Fe Chicken”?

    You bit into it and it clucks: “Congratulations, you have been selected as a first alternate”

  • Jen Lynn says:

    I will check the full article. It makes me curious.
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