Monday, December 23, 2019

The Fight Is The Gift

Yesterday we went to see a performance of Handel's Messiah at the Roy Thompson Hall, it's a tradition of ours and we both really enjoy it. We left early enough to get lost in the streets of the financial district, another tradition, even with all that we were in our seats about a half-hour before the oratorio and we both busied ourselves reading the program, seeing who the soloists were this year. The mezzo-soprano had a dynamite resume and the tenor's was unusual in the frankness it dealt with his sexuality and his involvement in the LGBT movement. We had seen him before in Hadrien, a new work by Rufus Wainright and knew that he had a stellar voice.

The lights dimmed, the crowd fell into an anticipatory hush and then came in the first violinist, the conductor and the 4 soloists. The mezzo was wearing something a bit unusual, I'm not good at describing clothing. She wore a kind of flowing golden brown trousers and a black top. After some applause, they sat down. She sat with a straight back and her legs were comfortably set, apart, not pinched together.

People were non-plussed by this. Even after she sang, with a voice that could bring down brick and mortar, It was stunning to hear her sing. I greedily looked through the program counting out the number of times she would be singing. She brought passion and artistry to the stage. When the tenor got up to sing, several people glanced at his bio and realized that he was out and proud and gay. The pointed to the bio and passed it around, while he was singing beautifully.

At intermission all I could hear people talking about was how 'distracting' her posture was and how they wished they hadn't read the gay man's bio - "that stuff shouldn't be shoved in our faces." I sat back in my chair and grinned. Being oneself is still controversial. Being different is still an act of defiance.

The fact that these people were roiling in judgment at an oratory called, "the Messiah," you know the dud that hung around with people that most would ignore.

Another gift of the season, seeing people, of remarkable talent, dare to be who they were. That's what the fight had been for, and those that follow us, are still fighting, in arenas we never thought possible mere years ago.

3 comments:

LynnPB said...

Amen

ABEhrhardt said...

Good for the singers, putting information about themselves out there. People are so judgmental!

The ONLY thing important should be what range their voice is in, and whether they can sing the work properly. Some women have sung tenor parts because there isn't enough written for their voice range, etc.

The world CANNOT go back to binary. No matter how hard it tries to suppress the people who are different, the information is out as well as some of the people.

I think we are far richer for it.

Ron Arnold said...

It always amazes me that a person's 'being' can diminish their talents in the eyes of some people. It's stunning. Performers are judged by their choice in political identification, their sexuality, their tattoos, etc. It's like there is some purity vetting or something for people who perform - and especially for those who perform what some consider 'sacred' music. It's a ridiculous form of entitlement in those who expect that performers meet their standards of purity.

And what's saddest is - their entitlement kept them from savoring what sounded like a beautiful performance. They poisoned themselves, and didn't even know it . . . .