Saturday, February 27, 2021

Voice and Weight

 

Pavarotti had a unique voice. I've listened to  many of the other famous opera male singers, and I have no doubt about that. His face was also rather special: expressive and  full of charm. He was a ...huge person with a corresponding huge personality.

 

Pavarotti in Nessum Dorma (Turandot)

In an interview with Mike Wallace  for the '60 minutes' program, he was asked about his...obesity. Why was he fat?

People were furious, and rightly so. It was rude, very rude of the journalist to focus on Luciano's physical appearance, rather than on his talent and career.  What is it with people that they get so low!

Anyway, there's this belief about opera singers, that the fatter you are, the better the voice. According to experts, there's no medical, physical, or musical reason for singers to be fat.

The thing is, these  singers know they are loved and popular mainly for their voices , so, they allow themselves to worry less about their bodies.  Most of them, both males and females are overweight. After all, opera singing is a tough,  high-stress , lonely  profession, and so, eating becomes a form of compensation.

Diets might ruin the voice. Doctors don't quite agree to this. If done carefully , diet might help with both, losing weight and preserving the voice. And yet, Maria Callas, the famous greek opera singer, lost weight , lost her voice, and died prematurely (at 53). Such a  tragic loss to opera lovers!

                          spanish opera singer Monserrat Caballe

Nowadays, the world worships 'thin' even on the opera stage. Opera singers are politely requested to deal with their weight if they want a job and good roles. I remember reading about the soprano Deborah Voigt of the London Opera. She was sacked because she couldn't fit in the dress. She then underwent bypass surgery, and things changed for her. 

Opera singers, especially the women among them, get quite a lot of 'fat shaming' from critics. Expressions such as " chubby bundle of puppy fat", "unsightful, unappealing" are an example of such shaming.

 

46 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Indeed. I hope singers file a complaint against those critics. The latter should write about performance and voice not about the fat part.

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  2. Everyone has a different body mass and shape, and the sooner we all learn to accept that simple fact the better off we will all be. Beauty wears off quickly, good humour, kindness and intelligent conversation last forever.

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    1. Well put! Opera singers should be no exception. They are human beings with weaknesses like anyone else.
      Pavarotti once said he could not give up pasta. I can understand that.I tried a substitute called 'skinny pasta' (konjac fiber). I ended up eating both: regular pasta and skinny pasta. I like them both. LOL.

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    2. On second thought,inner qualities might also not last forever. Sometimes kindness in a person becomes meanness,humorous and intelligent conversation -utterly boring.

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  3. Great talents, too bad about shaming!

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    1. Shaming is a negative phenomenon, talent or not.
      People of talent, like the opera singers, don't have the time and patience for dieting which requires planning and dedication. We must accept them as they are and enjoy what they have to offer us, their voice and performance.

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  4. OMG! I can't believe Mike Wallace would say something like that, because how someone looks is certainly NOT newsworthy, and is downright mean. I agree on the importance of loving a person for who they are, and not how they look. Fat shaming for any reason is just the pits. Great post! Hope you are well. Hugs, RO

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Ro.
      If the 'someone' is Pavarotti or Callas, it might be newsworthy, what do I know.
      Callas, by the way, was not only an accomplished opera singer, but also Onasis' sweetheart before he dumped her for Jackie Kennedy, former first lady of the USA.

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  5. I've always loved him!
    I think the lifestyle for touring opera singers might contribute to it. Eating out is horrible for calories.

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    1. Right: life style - touring, eating out make it hard to maintain normal weight.
      Eating and dieting - both require planning and perseverance.The proper nutrition brings it all: good health and good looks.

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  6. I think as women we have always gotten a bad rep on weight issues. Although, I feel certain most men have secretly worried about their weight. I feel so sad for the singer you mentioned who lost weight and lost her voice. Being an opera singer would certainly be stressful, but there comes joy from singing too. These days it's the blood sugar many doctors worry about and with type 2 diabetic it's a gut issue. Eating too much but the digestion is breaking it down too quickly. And it seems more dieting and exercising to lose those pounds some how lowers the blood sugar. Just one more thing to worry a fat opera singer. This makes me think of what a friend told me once, "A fat cat is a happy cat."

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    1. I've heard that about people:'a fat guy is a happy guy'. Well, I'm afraid, none is really happy with the surplus, as it affects health and spoils physical appearance.
      Women, indeed, seem to have more weight issues than men.

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    2. I guess the key is to keep moving and remember in the long run..less is more. The older we get the smaller our meals become and yet maybe we just need to eat smaller meals.

      Have you ever heard Chinese Opera? Now that hits a nerve. You certainly have to have a special taste for it. It's such the opposite of the opera we know and and love.

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    3. Your guess is probably right. The key to normal body weight is in small meals.
      No, I've never heard Chinese opera.I'm willing and ready to listen to all kinds of opera.

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  7. Thank you very much for an unusual and very important article. You are raising an urgent problem of society. These issues are often overlooked today. You are well done!

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    1. You're welcome, Victoria.
      You mean, the issue of fat- shaming. It should definitely not be overlooked by society!
      Individuals that are put to shame because of additional pounds to their weight, should complain and raise their voices against this phenomenon.

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  8. I loved Pavarotti, and his Nessum Dorma was like no other. In fact, my son-in-law's mother played cello on stage with him, whenever he was in Chicago. She never spoke of his size, but only how nice he was, and that he played with her 2 children, when they were with her one afternoon. I've heard the same thing, DUTA, about the extra weight, and the ability to sing so beautifully. I've never read anything scientific on it, and probably won't, but can't imagine someone focusing on his size, rather than his tremendous gift. Hope you are well.

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    1. Oh, my, Bica, so you have a cellist in the family, and..she played on stage with Pavarotti! Wow!
      He was known as a very warm, nice person, so no surprise he played with her kids.
      I suppose he had periods between diets when he looked less heavy, but his voice had the same resonance as always.

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  9. Fat shaming is so wrong. I'm overweight and I'm fine with my body. I stopped caring what others think a long time ago. For someone to talk about a singers weight more than their voice is just rude and ridiculous.

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    1. I like your attitude,Mary. What's important is only how you think and feel about your body.
      Those who dare shame others, should be sued and punished!

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  10. What an insensitive question. Mike Wallace should have known better -- that's awful. For a lot of obvious reasons, I am very anti-fat shaming. The thing is, people never know if there is more behind it than just overindulgence (medication, genetics, etc.) The main thing is being healthy. Sometimes excess weight can work against that but sometimes, not. Oh, what an awful question!

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    1. I'm anti-shaming of any kind. Regarding obesity, as you say, people don't know what's behind it, not always it's a matter of food self-indulgence.
      I have a neighbor whose daughter is overweight. Nothing helps, it's a genetic disorder. She drives a car, has a permanent job - but no friends, no prospective suitors ; her parents are worried, and she feels the pressure of both family and society.

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  11. It would be a sad world if we all looked the same. Shame on Mike Wallace for asking such a stupid question! Pavarotti had an excellent voice and the focus should've been on that. Fat isn't good but then neither is skinny as a rail and anorexic! They both definitely affect the health of a person. Right now, I'm trying to shed a few pounds gained during this lock-down. I'm wondering if and when life will return to normal!!!

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    1. I've just read in a blog post of a guy from Finland. He writes there that one or two more years of corona, and the major problem is going to be, not Corona but obesity of the population. All these lockdowns cause people to eat more and gain weight.
      I think he may be right.

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  12. I loved Pavarotti...still do. He was magnificent...such a talent. What a voice! I loved his face, his mischievous, sparkling eyes...he character...wonderful, wonderful! :)

    I watched a tremendous documentary about his life a few months ago...via Netflix. I will watch it again...and again... :)

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    1. Who wouldn't? As I've said in the opening of my post, he had a unique voice and great performing talent.
      When I listen to his singing, I get carried away to some other world, not the real one.

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  13. You always have something interesting to post on Duta and thought provoking. My Mom, blessed be her memory, loved Pavorotti, especially in her later years and to the end. I will come back again and listen to the video! Blessings and have a good week!

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    1. Thanks, Shayndel, for your kind words about my posts.
      It's nice to know your late Mom was fond of Pavarotti's singing. One has only the finest suprlatives for his musical performance and human personality.
      Blessings and Hugs to you!

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  14. PS listening now to Pavorotti`s voice. Beautiful!

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  15. Thanks for stopping at my blog. This is an interesting post. I can't believe Mike Wallace asked that question! He did have a beautiful voice!

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    1. Hi Mary,
      You mean, Pavarotti had a beautiful voice, Wallace had the 'chutzpa' of asking about the later's body weight.
      I'm glad you consider my post interesting.

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  16. Thank you for the videos and addressing the topic. That is like saying a fat man is a jolly man, or she has a pretty face... So wrong. Thank you for your visit and kind words.

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    1. You're welcome.
      Yes,in any case, it's wrong to focus on one's appearance and judge by it. Superficiality always leads to unfair conclusions.

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    1. Great voices!
      We can listen to them in the comfort of our home, as we've got them on YouTube.

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  18. Rediculous With such a voice you don't care about his weight Weird
    I like Pavarotti but I am an absolute fan of Andrea Bocelli

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    1. Bocelli - another italian. God gave italians divine voices.
      Well,sometimes,journalists in their quest for the sensational,turn things into the ridiculous.

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  19. no sabia que había pasado eso, que hoy en día aun pregunten este tipo de tonterías, me parece increíble.

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    1. It is not a recent interview. They are both, the singer and the journalist, dead now. Pavarotti has been dead for almost 14 years (2007).The interview was taken several years before that.

      Mike Wallace was known as a very thorough, investigating journalist.
      I'm not sure things are better nowadays with all the 'rating' concept all over us.

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  20. He had a wonderful voice on classic songs. We love his voice, and his body was his business.
    Yes, body shaming is harmful.

    Have a great weekend, Duta

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    1. Yes, Evi, "his body was his business".
      Sadly, even nowadays, not everyone believes our body is our personal business.
      A great weekend to you, too!

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  21. Both Pavarotti and Monserrat Caballe had the most wonderful voices, and Eddie and I often listen to them on You Tube :)

    All the best Jan

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    1. We live in good times; YouTube brings us home the best performances - past and present. I never get tired of listening to Pavarotti, and I can well imagine that you and Eddie feel the same.

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