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Subject: Re: Amplification in the Opera House (formerly RE: SALOME opening night MET 5 December)
From: David Shengold <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Shengold <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 11 Dec 2016 15:25:03 +0000

text/plain (31 lines)

I think my browser deleted the paragraph where you blamed this phenomenon on Maria Callas.

Takis wrote:

Thanks for that Isaac. Suddenly, wishing to hear opera as it was conceived, i.e. unamplified, made me a purist. 

It's a slippery slope if we start allowing amplification in opera. Audiences get used to the electronic, amplified sound and then, why not use a bit of autotune to correct any minor intonation problems and make it sound like the studio recording?  

Check out what happened to Broadway musicals. Here's an interesting article from the '80s complaining about the amplification in that musical genre. There was a day when the singers there had to sing over an orchestra too.
Today, I doubt there is any musical that's being performed unamplified. 

Jon claims it depends on the opera house. In most opera houses that I've heard off-stage singing there was no problem hearing this effect. Yes the voice sounded less and I bet in this Salome Johanaan would have sounded weaker in that hole. But that's to be expected, the composer knew that. In Butterfly, when she arrives they also start from a distance. Now if they start performing opera in huge venues or building bigger opera houses, it goes against the art form. I suspect most operas were composed for theatres smaller than the MET so if we start building opera houses to get more people in rather than serve the art form, we're doing something wrong. 


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