The label of “iconic status” is unlikely to be awarded to many contemporary artists, partially because there is a dearth of truly remarkable singers in operation today, but primarily because one needs to review an entire career before deciding if their impact was truly out of the ordinary. To balance this, we will of course be hosting reviews and profiles of today’s greatest talents elsewhere on the site. For icon status, we do have over three centuries worth of operatic over-achievers to choose from! Needless to say we can’t include everyone, so some selection criteria must be in place.
First and foremost our potential icons must have that indefinable quality of “greatness” about them. Perhaps they inspired a composer to write magnificent music in their honour, or a public to fierce and fanatical adoration. Maybe they epitomised the Kunst or Stimm to the very nth degree. Being merely a good singer or actor isn’t enough to qualify for operas most exalted status! What we are looking for is unquestionably the best of the best. Naturally some will always argue with the inclusion or exclusion of a particular singer, conductor or director, but part of the joy of opera is its lively debate. Is there another art form where the public is so immersed in its detail and history? I would be extremely surprised if this should be the case, especially on a general level at least.
As it will take some time to prepare these profiles we will endeavour to produce a minimum of one per month. If it is possible to complete more, we will of course do so. Should you have specialist/in-depth knowledge about a potential entrant and would like to assist in drafting a profile, or even completing it independently, I would be very happy to hear from you. For now I will give you a taster of some of the artists you can expect to see in the coming months: Nilsson, Caruso, Sutherland, Ponselle, Tebaldi, Melba, Farinelli, Catalani, Lind, Domingo, Pacchiarotti, Callas, Tietiens, Horne, Rubini, Supervia, Tamburini, Toscannini, Bergonzi, Gobbi, Sontag, von Karajan and Zeffirelli. I should add that there is no particular order as to the ranking in this series, but that some are more equal than others!
As ever, please feel free to contact me with any comments or feedback.