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  • Damian Norfleet

Control vs Collaboration

Presently, I am in the midst of an operatic production...and the process is irritating at best. I am constantly aware of the dissonance between my artistry and the prescribed performance practices of said medium. Opera, by definition, is supposed to be the combination of multiple disciplines...I suppose that is true. Technically, the opera IS the intersection of music, dance, and theatre...but, what does that really mean in real-world application? As an interdisciplinary performing artist, I thought that I would easily navigate the deportment requirements of the opera; I thought that with my given skill sets, I would comfortably soar above the hurdles of having to execute tasks assigned from multiple directors trained in different disciplines...and I do; however, this exercise does not feel easy, nor comfortable. Something about the process of producing a show within the opera house is trying, illogical, stressful, and testing of my personhood.

Opera is not purely a combination of performance media; hierarchy and White supremacy pollute the institution of opera. Not only do I not like it, but I abhor it. The opera isn't a medium of artistic collaboration, but control. Micromanagement and dismissal of non-whiteness abounds. It truly is a shame because there's a plethora of talent present within the cast, directors, crew, and musicians...but the skill, instincts, and experiences of a single position are regarded and respected above all others...why? The conductor (which I REFUSE to call master...maestro, if that borrowed Italian word makes some more comfortable) seems to have final say on EVERYTHING...even if said person is not skilled, nor knowledgeable, about a given subject matter. Why? I cannot get past the singular, interrogative word WHY? Conductors even enjoy dominion over the composers of operas! Again, I ask WHY? I will leave it to another person, who cares more about the "beloved" institution than I, to discover the answer. Until then, I will continue to mourn the greatness-that-is-yet-to-be attained by the opera.

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Eww!!