Could it be that we abolished the opera star system because we don't want to pay his high fees or bow to his whims?
When we look back on better times, do we nostalgically think about the high quality of the singers of past decades? Or is it because we miss the big names that made us queue for hours, sometimes nights, in the rain for a seat in theater standing room? Of course we have big names in the operatic firmament today, but compared to what we had in past decades, the stars are not even ten percent of the stars in the universe at that time.
In the world of music today we are undoubtedly at a better level, both qualitatively and quantitatively, because we have helped raise educational standards in music education in almost all countries, giving more young people access to a good music education at the have colleges.
This has also increased competition among young artists, which does not exactly contribute to the professional training necessary to form outstanding personalities through intensive experience in front of an audience. A new generation of artists is quickly being replaced by a younger generation with lower salaries. ...
In my opinion, many elements come together that prevent the emergence of big names that can attract audiences to the theatres. One reason is the above, but others are also the lack of attention given by the critics to the performers, the excessive importance of staging in relation to musical conception and the disappearance of the recording industry as a distributor of current knowledge and marketing.
Let's start with the first point.
Regardless of whether the artists exist or not, critics are a reference point for the audience on the way from the ticket buyer's interest to the purchase of the tickets. If 90 percent of the criticism is devoted to writing the play and conceiving the staging, it will do little to retain the names of artists who worked as hard on stage as the director.
We celebrate good productions and the genius of directors because they are the ones who take us to a world outside of our own to experience a story and the feelings it portrays. Without discussing whether the era of experiments that began with the director's theater forty years ago is over and a return to realistic scenarios that correspond to the composition or the desires of the composers, for example, my brother-in-law, the baritone Paul-Armin Edelmann, argues that the success of musicals with today's young audiences is not because of the music, but because the staging is simply realistic. And I also think he might be right about that
On the contrary, there are examples of other types of production being more successful. In some theaters there are directors who give priority to the singers and musical directors, with great success with critics and audiences, as in the case of Ulises Jaen at the Opera de Las Palmas, who received the award for the best opera season in Spain has.
Unfortunately, the declining importance of the recording industry as a marketing tool for artists has not only harmed the labels themselves, but has also meant that few people today know who the most important singers, instrumentalists and conductors of this era were. The reality of algorithm enforcement in media like YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify is based on criteria very different from an organized marketing campaign.
The question remains whether these circumstances contribute to a theater or concert hall being in a better financial position and not having to pay astronomical fees, as was the case in the past. But that doesn't seem to be the case either, because producing a concert or an opera has never been as ruinous as it is today. We're going to have to rethink when something isn't done well, because if it's true that times past have never been better, which goes against what's always said, there were things that really worked in the past. And those are the things we should emulate. Or at least some of them.