I've had some interesting encounters with reviews in the last couple of weeks.
First, there were the Barber of Seville reviews, which, quite frankly, could have been written by my own mother. There were only three that I know of, but they were all so complimentary, I was feeling like a million bucks.
Then, I got to Washington D.C., and performed Maria Padilla. I felt really good about the single performance, and got some great feedback from various people. I found a couple of reviews online that were very positive and I was feeling really good, just waiting for the review from the Washington Post to come out. I was particularly interested in that review because the reviewer used to review for the New York Times, and gave me the worst review I've ever received for an opera about 6 years ago, saying something like "her high notes escaped as something of a shriek." However, I knew I sang well Sunday, and I really had myself convinced that there wasn't anything she could slam me for this time. I was wrong.
She said I had a "nice sound" but that I seemed "challenged by the amount of music I had to sing." Except I didn't have a lot of music to sing. I only had an aria and a duet and a few lines here and there. I wasn't tired. I could have sung my whole role 6 or 7 times and then sung Rosina twice. So what did she mean? I will never know. Why do I care? Because I want to be liked and accepted and praised to feed my singerly ego. Especially by those who have dissed me in the past. So shoot me.
However, I wasn't so crushed that I was afraid to finally update the reviews page of my website. As I've spoken about before on this blog, I went through a real crisis of confidence for a couple years there, and I couldn't even bear to read a review unless somebody pre-screened it for me and promised there weren't any criticisms. I seem to be over that, so I was finally ready to do the unthinkable and google myself. This is particularly dangerous in the internet age because not only are there all the reviews in newspapers, but these days there are countless blogs where people can talk about how much they think you suck. But I ended up being rewarded for my "courage" because I discovered that one of my very favorite bloggers, opera chic, had actually written about me in one of her posts from last year. She said I "rawked" which made all that googling totally worth it.
So I updated my website, none too worse for the wear. I hope there will be a time in my future where I will read the best reviews and the worst reviews and feel absolutely the same level of apathy for both of them. In the meantime, I still get to feel elated about the good ones and get depressed by the bad ones. Or maybe I'll just hire a professional googler and never look at another one. Hmmm..... tempting.
Hi Jennifer- living in the DC area, I read a lot of that particular reviewer's reviews. I notice that she often makes strange, vague comments but can't back them up with any concrete examples from the performance. I also have firmly disagreed with her reviews of performances that I have attended. She has a habit (as do most reviewers) of picking apart odd aspects of a performance instead of reviewing the performance as a whole. While I didn't have the pleasure of hearing your performance last weekend, if you received good feedback from those who were there...then you should definitely listen to that instead of this particular reviewer!
Well we now know that the reviewer who did that WAPO review is full of unmentionable bunk. She obviously was writing to prove a point by comparing the two operas, and sacrificed the singers for her own ego and to make a point that did not exist rather than giving a legitimate and thoughtful review. The pain of this system is that often the reviewers do not show the respect for the artists that is their due. This particular reviewer, as we all know from past reviews, is more interested in promoting her own "opera expertise" and perfectly willing to sacrifice hard working musicians for her own ends. What a crazy business that the "pundits" who make a living off of your work, can have such an effect. I'm just saying. I hate the irresponsibility of it.
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