Well - one more opinion on professionals and amateurs - and their
contributions to this list.
First, I know of no one who was born a professional musician.
Second, I know of no musician who is professional in all aspects of
opera (singing, conducting, producing, recording, criticizing, ...)
Logically, as each of us develops experience (proficiency, even
professionalism) in some aspect, we learn facts and acquire
opinions. One list-er with evident, major achievements in musicology
objects to being called a musicologist. I've produced musical
recordings, but certainly don't feel that I'm a pro. But each of us
may have information and opinion to offer - and has the right to do
Above all, none of us (not even the critics) is a professional at
experiencing opera. I've learned as much and enjoyed as fully
reports of that experience from newcomers as from experts. The tyro
may not know an apoggiatura from a pianissimo, but so what? ''His
voice was rich and warm, and while it got hard and brassy (and maybe
a bit flat) on the high notes, I believed in him.'' Okay, what more
do you want that the expert can provide?
Frankly, the newcomer's appreciation of a production may mean more
to me than the pro's. She comes at it with (one hopes) a basic
understanding of the work and notes that this prop or that action
made no sense and disrupted the action. The expert who discusses the
metaphysical significance of the colour of the draperies contributes
nothing in comparison.
The guy I want to see kicked off the list (yes, I'm kidding) is the
one who has heard it all, will never hear anything to equal
Malibran's Nan Page and cannot tolerate the boors who contend that
she did not sing it surpassingly well.
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