‘If they could not continue to attract singers of the caliber of Pavarotti, Sutherland, Domingo and the many other stars of the world stage who performed here, Campbell indicated, they would just as soon shut it down.
“It would be like putting water in the beer,” he said. “If you cut the artistic quality, people know.”’ -from UT San Diego
Shame on you, San Diego Opera leadership. It is unnecessary to divulge the seemingly innumerable amount of sensible pathways that a debt-free, $15 million company could have taken to remain a source of influence in the community. Instead, you’ve allowed the agenda of most likely a very small pocket of minds to convince you that this is the best course of action; to give up without a fight and to go away with “dignity.”
Dignity? What? Get a spine.
Newsflash: this isn’t dignified. This is quitting; throwing in the towel; losing hope (cashing in?). In this article we won’t go into the obvious, hardly-outside-the-box thinking which is needed to avoid such a collapse (like a substantially reduced season(s), like pay cuts – especially in upper management – like smaller venues, like reduced orchestrations, etc..). Your upper tier may be pseudo-nobly thinking that such gutsy efforts simply go against your mission and don’t support the traditional foundation of the company. Well, we’re all saying get over it. Change. Adapt. Have your traditional cake and eat it too, but with a side of modern java to wake you up and kick your butts into high 21st century gear.
No, we won’t go into the mundane yet evident and courageous efforts that could have been taken (like hiring more local talent, like revolutionized marketing campaigns, like talent searches and, heaven forbid, large-scale auditions), but what we will divulge is the amount of immense talent that your tiny $15 million company has just directly degraded due to your comments and actions.
And without further delay, here are the ten (watered down) artists that you might have been able to afford and that we think would give your golden era singers a run for their money. Oh, and they would perhaps fill a seat or two. (Note: in order to help you understand on your dignified level, we’ve included a special craft beer comparison for each singer because, although the Heinekens of the Golden Era were great, these kick-ass microbrews are creating shockwaves on traditionalist palates worldwide:
High-flying songstress and young standout at the Met has a gigantic personality. She is humbled and is immensely passionate about the future of opera as we found out over a beer at Amsterdam Ale House after her role with ALT last year. [Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA – high-pitched, continuous hops but never overpowering, watch out for the high alcohol content!]
She’s on an opera renaissance campaign and would probably negotiate a contract. At least she comes across as the sweetheart that would do such a thing when we were invited into her dressing room at the Met a couple years back. [Georgia’s Sweetwater IPA – smooth, clean, hints of honey and darn seductive.]
Tour-de-force with a body of a Greek god. [Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale – bold ale flavor with the perfect marriage of bourbon infusion – a man’s beer.]
It seems that drama follows this young tenor star wherever he sings. From a dramatic finish in The Audition to his debut at the Met, the opera world has it’s eyes and ears earnestly open for this guy. [Arrogant Bastard Ale – strong, almost overpowering ale, but with incredible focus and drive that such a name is warranted.]
Holy smokes, can you say Miss America? And this girl can sing! [Trappistes Rochefort 8 – full of color and flavor with a smooth, long and breathtakingly sexy finish.]
BBC Singer of the World, not too shabby. Jamie can act circles around most well established singers and has a collaborative spirit that makes anyone feel at home. [Longboard Island Lager – a sweet, slightly spicy hop aroma with a full and sultry flavor.]
Sings at a place called the Met and performs worldwide in Forte. He has a tiny bit of exposure. [Sam Adams Light – a full flavored light beer; don’t let this ‘light’ beer fool you, it has a complex palate and impressive finish, but is a good stepping stone to more intense brews.]
Has character and voice for days. Her dark, sultry voice has graced the stage of many regional houses but more importantly she knows how to step into the limelight – she filled a role in Santa Fe within 48 hours. [Vanilla Java Porter – attractive vanilla notes, bold java flavor and utterly seductive]
Rising star, Elliot was a Met Opera winner only a few years ago and has a commanding stage presence. We saw him as Don Giovanni at Opera Theatre of St. Louis a couple of years ago and apparently we weren’t the only ones impressed – he sings the title role at Glyndebourne this summer. [Brooklyn Lager – classy, focused and character that outlasts any other lager]
Multiple competition winner, Met opera, and an expanding international resume. Just listening to Danielle melts the stress of life away and truly embodies the transformative power of opera. [Left Hand Milk Stout – creamy, rich, luxurious chocolate finish, the roasted bitterness is balanced by it’s lasting depth of flavor]
The supposed golden age of opera is over, and traditionalists need to move on and see what is right in front of them. The Pav is gone. Sutherland is gone. Callas is gone. Domingo is wonderful, but is the last of an era. We’re in a new era with promising new artists and led by creative minds that will take us to unexplored territories. SD Opera leadership, you’re turning your back on a fundamental aspect of opera: timelessness. New singers, new art and new ideas need and will be created with or without you and will withstand the tests of time. What’s truly shameful is that you’re squandering the monumental potential you had to nurture the talents that are currently eclipsing the feats of your pedestaled singers.
If we could say anything to the San Diego community it would be to never lose sight on the the ultimate artistic goal: enrich the community. This can never be based solely on tradition and self-agenda. It is about all of us striving to create value in minds around us. The moment such vision is lost, well, you see what happens.
And to Ian Campbell – while the rest of us trained professionals and opera lovers await our next event and try to think outside of our small boxes, we hope you enjoy your beach house. Or both of them.
Where, for sure, there is plenty of Heineken to be had.