Lesson #349: Wagnerian Singers

One of my friends brought his new girlfriend out to the pub for the match today. She’s freaking awesome! She admits to knowing nothing at all about football, but was game to come and socialize and meet his friends (and then game to come with us while we watched my team play his team in hockey). But what makes her awesome is that it turns out that she’s an opera singer, studying for her MFA. So we were talking about opera while my friend stood there and stared at me before asking “how are you so into football and also this into astrophysics* and opera? You shouldn’t exist!”

She and I quickly moved from opera itself to the music and theory of opera. When the discussion moved to Wagner (who, if you’ve been reading for a while, you know I love) and she told me that she can’t do Wagner, which sounded absurd to me until she said that in her class, there’s only one Wagnerian singer. It turns out, and this makes perfect sense, because Wagner vastly expanded the orchestra for his operas, singers have to be able to project over all those added instruments, and the percentage of people who have that ability is not very big, even in the opera community. So the complexity of his music, which is the thing I like most about Wagner, is also the thing that makes his music hardest to sing.

In other news, Englebert Humperdinck was an actual person (other than the pop singer whose name is not actually Englebert Humperdinck)…he composed Hansel and Gretel, which my friend’s girlfriend is performing in next month.

FYI: As a point of personal pride, because it was the derby, some friends and I took it upon ourselves to change the Arsenal supporters club’s (which is literally 25m from ours) sign to read “[Neighbourhood redacted] is Arsenal Red” to “[Neighbourhood redacted] is Lilywhite.” It was a vast improvement in our opinions, but the Gooners were nowhere near as amused with our changes as we were. Because Gooners take themselves way too seriously.

*The reason he and I have gotten to be such fast friends is our mutual love of space.

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