Both singers work steadily with good orchestras in big enough cities, but in opera there are four major houses that every singer struggles to reach, the Met, the Scala, Covent Garden and Vienna. Brilliant though they are, neither Georgia Jarman nor Stephen Powell has broken into that top echelon. How can this be? Why? You can say maybe it will come, but Madam Jarman is 38 years old and has been singing professionally for 15 or more years. I don't know Powell's age. Most singers lie or carefully conceal their ages--perhaps at the end this will mean an extra year or two of contracts. But Powell looked to be about 42. Both singers should have been invited to the great houses years ago.
The same could be said for the conductor Will Crutchfield, by the way. It was Crutchfield, Caramoor's director of opera, who found and hired all the singers, put the production together, and then conducted it according to Verdi's original instructions. The Times critic praised him just as loudly. Crutchfield also should be at the Met.
But excellence, it seems, is no ticket to the top. A famous tenor who, at the start of his career, auditioned for months and months without landing a contract, once explained it to me this way: "There are an awful lot of tin ears out there."
The same could be said about editors of course, which is why the subject is so personal to me. So troubling to me as well. I'm more or less out of it now, and in time I had my share of successes--more than my share. But why did the beginning have to be so painful and so long? It is the tin ear aspect of life that is so hard to accept. Tin ears exist in every domain, not just the arts. Consider politics, for instance, since it's in the news a lot these days. Why does the intelligent candidate so often get defeated by the moron or the crook? Tin ear questions are more profound than they might at first appear. At least to me they are. If you have any explanations, do let me know.