Dear music critics of the London Times,

I have read quite a few of your opera critiques: more often than not, they seem to carry on the dangerous habit of focusing on something unrelated to the core of a performance. Going back only one year, in your opinion Tara Erraught was too fat for the role of Octavian and, more recently, Lisa Milnes retired from the scenes due to her size.

It seems to me like you are sending to the Times articles that are tailored for Vogue.

Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I still think that opera is a perfect balance of theater and music. Both of them require acting and singing skills, if I’m not mistaken. They do not require for the singers to be models as well.

I’m afraid, you, my dear critics, are undermining yourselves by doing exactly the opposite of what is required by your job description: you are conforming to the industry standards. Unfortunately, these “standards” are focusing more and more on so called beauty – which is, may I remind you, subjective – and less on the primary aspect of opera: singing. Without singers, fat or slim, there is no opera. As a conductor, given two singers for the same role, I would hire the one that sings better any day of the week and couldn’t care less about her/his size. As an opera-goer, I want to hear good music-making and see good acting.

Mass media endorse the obsession with body fashion, but unless you are a shareholder of Protein World, that should not be of your concern. And why are you exclusively targeting women? Your job is to inform the public and give them your knowledgeable opinion on the artistic aspects of a production. If you want to gossip or, worse, express your sexist prejudice on someone’s appearance, I would advise your boss to show you the door. The Times should have no time for it.

Sincerely yours,
Gianmaria Griglio

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