Friday, 13 November 2015

Jonas Kaufmann and the Curse of Fandom

Joinas Kaufmann has had to cancel   his appearaances in Carmen at the ROH and the fans go into a rage?  But are these fans at all ?  JK can't help being unwell. Forcing someone to perform when he's not well is cruel.  For a singer, working in such situations can damage the voice long term.   JK went through a difficult patch when he couldn't sing for some months, so why risk that happening? So if fans really are fans, they should realize that singers aren't machines but human beings. Surely they deserve basic kindness? Three years ago, Wise Ruth wrote sensibly about cancellations : her words still hold true.  Even further back, Alfie Boe's promising career was destroyed by his "fans" in much the same way.

Which leads me to wider issues: the curse of fandom.  Healthy fandom is positive,: It supports singers and spurs them on to good things. Everyone's happy. But negative fandom is anti-art.   Recently JK sang Puccini at the Royal Festival Hall, interspersing his arias with orchestral music.  Good for him ! That was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, since placing the arias in the context of the music in the operas enhances appreciation. Singers are not machines.  Concerts are not CD's "live".

But one of the Dirty Little Secrets of the opera world is that a lot of fans don't actually like music.  Negative fans want celebrity, not art.  I adore Jonas Kaufmann, and respect hs art, and so do most of his genuine fans. But marketing controls art these days. Horror of horrors, the market is not always right.

Original Content: Jonas Kaufmann and the Curse of Fandom

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