Once again, this guy’s blog posts often bug me about one or two particular annoying assumptions he keeps making, but this post is spot-on.
I have stopped talking to other classical music fans — especially classical voice fans — because I’m sick and tired of them looking at me like I just held a stale cat turd under their noses because I mentioned Freddie Mercury. Worse, they pinch their lips, smirk, and ask, “Now who is he?” I’ve often wanted to say, “Have you been under a rock for the past thirty years? Either you know and you’re afraid to admit it in public, or your smirk is only going to deepen when you learn that he sang with a rock band called Queen.”
I’ve gotten tired of even discussing voice at all with people because they are either:
1) rock fans who think that opera is a lot of nice music ruined by fat Italians singing, or
2) classical fans who roundfile anyone who dares to suggest that Boy George has a damned fine voice. (Again, this is assuming they even know who he is or will admit to it.)
Let’s not talk about the classical voice fans who have only just learned that the male falsetto exists thanks to the Baroque revival, and who instantly imagine themselves experts in it — completely ignorant of the fact that rock and pop singers have been using the technique for decades starting long before some of them were born. At that fantastic house concert with Con Gioia and Michael Maniaci that I discussed earlier, I overheard some of the most poorly informed conversations about high male voices and falsettists that you could imagine, and not a one of them would have been prepared to be educated — no matter how gently — by someone who knows as much about Jimmy Somerville as about David Daniels. And due to the fact that natural and falsetto high male voices were banished from the classical world from roughly 1850-2000 give or take, there is no way to talk about these voices without mentioning names like Frankie Valli and Steve Perry, any mention of whom would probably cause their sphincters to clench so hard that they would suck up their seat cushions.
So I kept my mouth firmly closed and said nothing at the proclamations about Alfred Deller creating the falsetto revolution in the 1980s, about women not having falsetto voices, and Maniaci himself being a countertenor(!!!!!!).
He’s as much a countertenor as Cecilia Bartoli is.
About the only people I could have had any conversations with, and they probably would have been quite fun, would have been the musicians and the singer themselves. “Justin Timberlake made a career of singing up in the falsetto voice and no one looks strangely at him,” says [operatic falsettist David Daniels]. No, but people will look strangely at you for bringing Timberlake up in the conversation.
I still like the music I like. I’ve just gotten sick and tired of defending it from both sides and so have sort of detached from the whole conversation or at the very least stopped expecting people to engage.
And if I never to talk to an academic “expert” on anything again, it’ll be too soon. God, they’re awful. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a starchy professor in a third-rate liberal arts college who fancies himself a global expert on early music, or a Baby-Boomer art-rock fan in the throes of a midlife crisis. Comic Book Guys are awful, whether they read Marvel or DC.