Can you have sex before you sing?

Can you have sex before you sing?


norman lebrecht

June 08, 2021

There’s a charming little Facebook discussion going on between certain well-known performers as to whether it is advisable to engage in coitus the night before a big performance.

Some singers say they can always tell if someone else has been at it. One male says it’s good for women, harmful for men.

Boxers used to be told to abstain three days before a bout, but this is now considered flawed practice.

Is there a doctor in the house who can tell us?




  • Nijinsky says:

    If you’re going to have sex while singing, maybe it’s better to hold your “guns,” [beforehand]. Although I haven’t heard this done in classical settings, not even in the modern opera vogue…

  • andrew says:

    This post rather begs the question: who do we think has been getting in some extra duetting experience recently?

  • fred says:

    Tetrazzini, del monaco’s wife and christa ludwig had to say interesting things about it

  • Gustavo says:

    Male performance (whether in politics, economy, art, religion or sport) is very likely to be linked to psycho-sexual motivation and the resultant social status that potentially increases mating opportunities.

    Intrasexual competition and reward through mating opportunities determine almost every decision in the behaviour of animals, including humans.

    Hence, singing and sex go hand-in-hand (songbirds for example).

    Ideally, one should not get the carrot (sex) before delivering.

    Even the catholic church (with its “boy sopranos”) cannot free itself from these instincts and biological principles.

    If we were freed from basing our behaviour entirely on sexual antagonism, there would be no human life in all its bizarre cultural varieties and extremes, e.g. Champions’ League, Bayreuth, Mahler symphonies, Notre Dame, etc., etc..

    • Jack says:

      With all the down votes, it’s clear that a number of people don’t want the cold, hard evolutionary truth.

      • John Borstlap says:

        It’s not evolutionary truth since evolutionary theory in the way it spread through populations has a lot of bonkers content.

        Absolute and pertinent abstinence produces the greatest human achievements, both mental and physical. Mental: Socrates, Christ, Augustine, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Handel, Emmanuel Kant, Beethoven, Schiller, Chopin, Ingres, Brahms, Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, Proust, Ravel, Einstein, the list is endless. Physical: Julius Caesar, Djenghis Khan, Charlemange, Ivan the Terrible, Jeanne d’Arc, Robespierre, Prince Metternich, Bismarck, Hitler, Stalin. A bit shorter list.

        The explanation is that frustration stimulates channeling of amorous energies into different, and more fruitful directions. Happy people never produce anything whatsoever.

      • Gustavo says:

        Diversity arises from inequality and opposing selective forces.

        Equality works against diversity.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          There are public intellectuals out there who are suggesting that equity, diversity and inclusion are actually all antithetical to each other. Think about it.

  • Gustavo says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention the German car industry.

  • Emil says:

    There’s plenty of discussion on the subject before any major football tournament (will the coach allow the spouses into the team hotel?). It will certainly make its way into the tabloids this week, if it hasn’t already.

    • Gustavo says:

      It is interesting that the U21 EURO championship (involving beta males) went almost unnoticed, and no one would have bothered to discuss whether or not sexual partners were allowed to visit the hotel.

      Apparently, the availability of resources attracting sexual partners increases with age, urging older players to conceal the true goals of a male-dominated sport festival behind a mock celibacy.

  • Alexander says:

    cause men are energetic donors in a coitus, women are recipients ( so-to-speak “vampires”) .that’s the answer. is it that simple , isn’t it ? 😉

  • Petros Linardos says:

    I thought that getting a life is a first class prescription for good musicianship.

    Then again, maybe some singers are into method acting:
    – Salome should abstain.
    – Jochanaan should abstain.
    – Don Giovanni should go for it.

  • Novagerio says:

    Tenors NO !! Sopranos definitely yes! 😉

  • Gustavo says:

    This is probably why Rosenkavalier starts with two female voices.

  • George says:

    Isn’t there a wonderful joke about Giuseppe di Stefano’s wife telling a chorus girl whom he had an affair with:

    “Listen, darling: The day BEFORE a performance he should not. The day OF a perfomance he will not.
    The day AFTER a performance he cannot.
    And since he is singing two performances per week, on the 7th day he is mine!”

  • Fliszt says:

    Mrs George Szell was once asked “What is it like to be married to a God?”. She replied “Well, before a performance he won’t, and after a performance he can’t, and he gives 6 performances per week.”

  • stanley cohen says:

    When conducting Wagner operas Lorin Maazel would always pop home for a quickie. At least that’s what he said.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, but he meant a scotch.

    • Tanya Tintner says:

      Intervals in Furtwängler concerts tended to be very long, because a young lady would be helping him change his shirt.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Yes, but that was because she got it wrong so many times, inside out, the wrong sleeve, etc. And because Furtwängler was so absent-minded and humming his next piece, they both only found-out about the wrong turn when he was helplessly wrapped-up in a knot. (Source: the memoirs of Berta Geissmar, his secretary.)

  • stanley cohen says:

    When conducting Wagner operas Lorin Maazel would always pop home during the long intervals for a quickie. At least that’s what he said.

  • BRUCEB says:

    From the two conversations I’ve ever had with male singers about this:

    – The tenor said it was a bad idea.
    – The bass said it was a great idea.

    For female singers, the accepted wisdom is that it’s a great idea.

    I’m sure experiences vary wildly between individuals.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It is said that for male singers, too much makes the voice rise, and not enough to lower it. This explains the explanations above.

  • Gary Freer says:

    Salome and Jokanaan – that takes ‘giving head’ to extremes

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I can answer that question; no, but I’d like to (do both).

  • Nijinsky says:

    When someone, who is supposed to be concentrating on singing, or allowing it to happen, says that they could tell when so and so had sex, and then proceed to go on about when one should, and whether it’s better to have or to have not (embellished with, when they were supposed to be [singing] they had it on their mind whether so and so had or hadn’t); then maybe it’s not about singing. Or listening even.

  • MR says:

    Brings to mind how Jim Morrison recorded one track of the Strange Days album while engaging in sex – not a favorite memory for his bandmates.

  • Hobbes says:

    Erm…I hate to be simplistic about this, but is it not to do with energy levels…?

  • Herr Forkenspoon says:

    “Can” indicates physical ability and it is certainly physically possible to have sex before singing. please keep a dictionary & thesaurus at your side when writing.

  • PB says:

    I remember the recording of a joint masterclass given by Pavarotti and Freni; when asked if there was any special routine the day before a performance, Pav said “no sex” to which Freni interrupted with “maybe for men but for us women it’s different……”