Wednesday, 21 May 2014
I Practised When Everybody else had gone Home.
I was sad today to read of the criticism of the body shape of a leading opera star, Irish Mezza soprano, Tara Erraught, at Glyndebourne festival opera, Der Rosenkavalier. She is principal soloist in the Bavarian State Opera and made her UK stage debut at the festival on Saturday. She is highly regarded but has been talked about in leading newspapers disparagingly because of her appearance. It makes me want to weep.
In a way this is a direct follow up to the post I did a few days ago. It doesn't matter how talented you are or how hard you work, to the world you are what you look like when you are a woman and there is no way round it.
I read about this matter in the Guardian. It didn't say whether the critics were men or women and I suppose really it doesn't matter. Yes, it does. Women putting down women? I thought we got past that when we stopped competing for men's incomes, when we had more options, when we grasped education and choice and independence and we want it for daughters, by God we do. And men putting down women? I'm bored with it and with them and with anyone who behaves in such an ungenerous manner and I'm sorry for them, for being stupid and small minded and for voicing their opinions in supposedly decent newspapers. What the hell were they thinking about? Don't we have editors any more or decent sub editors?
I love opera. I wish I had been there. I wish I could have heard her sublime voice. Apparently the role was very difficult and she did it very well. I just hope to God she doesn't give a shit what people think, that she goes forward with her exceptional talent and delights audiences all over the world and I hope that some time I get to hear her sing because there is nothing more sublime than opera well done.
I suppose there is another way to look at it. When people put me down because of who I am I always think it's because they aren't happy themselves and when you are in the arts, it doesn't matter how, there are a lot of people out there who have given up their dreams, sometimes because they didn't have the talent, but more often because they didn't want it enough. As Shirley Temple used to say, 'I practised when everyone else had gone home.'
They didn't try as hard as you. By God I tried.
I remember after my husband died some people complained that I could afford a decent house but we had built our dream house. I had to leave it, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done and after that a lot of men seemed to think that I wasn't entitled to a nice house because I was young and a widow but we worked for that house, we grafted, we lived in a caravan for two years, we put up with all kinds of problems and discomforts. I had to give it up after he died, as I had to give up a lot of other things but do you know what?
I live in a lovely house with stained glass windows and tiny original fireplaces in one of the most beautiful cities on earth. We worked and I still work and I graft and I am entitled to my place in the world and so is every woman and so is every man and every child.
So I just hope that this wonderful opera singer knows these people are jealous of her and that she goes on singing and singing because that is what you do with talent, you get off your arse and you work. And then you win. By God, do you win! There is no feeling on earth like the euphoria of doing your best and knowing how good you are and this woman, she is among the best ever. I don't know her but I'm damned proud of her.