Monday, May 19, 2014

A taste of their own medicine

Mezzo soprano, Tara Erraught, recently got some really bad reviews for her performance in Der Rosenkavalier, but not for her singing.  Not even for her stage presence.  She got taken to town for how she looks.  And not just by one nearsighted reviewer.  By quite a few.  Wow, this girl must have a second head growing out of her shoulder or something!  Seriously, what does this woman look like???

Tara Erraught

Wait, what?  THAT'S who you have a problem looking at on stage?!?!  She's a very good looking woman!  Well, maybe some of the reviews weren't that bad.  Maybe they were just misinterpreted.  What did they say?

"A dumpy girl."- Michael Church from the Independent
"Unbelievable, unsightly, and unappealing."- Richard Morrison from the Times
"Dumpy... Stressed my Motherhood."- Rupert Christiansen from the Telegraph
"A chubby bundle of puppy-fat."- Andrew Clark from FT

HOLY SHIT!!!! SERIOUSLY?????  Well, I guess we can rule misinterpretation out.  Wow, they just sound like a bunch of hateful assholes.  

With the freedom and anonymity of the internet, sites remarking on performers looks are popular but the difference is that they try to focus on complimenting the singers, not tearing them apart limb from slightly fleshier limb. Barihunks is cute. Its purpose is to give people eye candy regardless of vocal abilities. Everyone keep their shirts on (I will!) - I'm not saying no one featured on the site can sing. I'm stressing that it's not the main point of its existence. I poke fun at the blog, but all in all, its harmless.  The Met's last minute decision to replace an ailing Anita Hartig with Kristine Opolais over her original cover, Hei-Kyung Hong, for an HD performance of La boheme was viewed by some as a giant PR stunt. Others viewed it as a blatant case of choosing looks over voice.  I kept my mouth shut on these subject for the most part.  But this one...I can't just sit by on the sidelines.  Its too much.  The gloves are off.  So, I thought these fine gentlemen deserved a taste of their own medicine.


The Review of The Reviewers: 

Andrew Clark

"Journalist" for FT (which stands for Financial Times and not Fart Taco as I originally thought) Andrew Clark, not pictured here because he doesn't allow cameras under his bridge, called Ms Erraught's singing "...gloriously sung." He also called her "a chubby bundle of puppy-fat." As I stare into (what I assume, because seriously, there is no useable picture of him on the Google) his creepily off centered blue eyes, I wonder what gives him the right to call anyone names.  I imagine he looks like a police sketch artist rendition of a rapist on the loose in northern Michigan.  He looks like Hodor's less attractive brother, Dodor.  I imagine he has a semi hipster hair cut that reminds me of those infomercials from the 90's for the Flowbee and the cowlick in the front seems unfortunately purposeful. His eyebrows look like they were drawn on with a sharpie that has almost run out and his half smile says to me "you'll never guess the special ingredient in my chili...pssst...it's children's tears"  PS- Grow a pair and let us see what you look like.

Michael Church

Michael Church's review in the Independent compared Ms Erraught to "...a Scullery-maid."  I will compare his face to the brush used by scullery-maids to clean out chamber pots. His sullen and deep under eye circles seem to tell the story of a man who has felt the sting of being rejected by all the women at a school for the blind. More than once. Either that or they are just the shadows cast down from the Everest summit camp that is his nose. His hair, resembling industrial strength steel wool about to scrub it's last pot, has obviously been recently tousled by none other than the single pillow on his twin sized bed. Also, I'm not one to judge fashion,  but when your shirt looks like it's made from the cloths said "scullery maids" use to clean the windows, it might be time to head to K-Mart and get a new one.  I think there are only 2 possible reasons why he isn't smiling in this pic- 1) He's afraid if he does, whats left of his soul will escape through the gaps of his rotting wooden teeth or 2) Well, I'm pretty sure its #1.

Richard Morrison

The Times Richard Morrison called Ms Erraught "...Unappealing."  Pot.  Kettle.  Black.  This guy looks like he takes artistic pictures of his scrotum.  And then sends them to himself.  By snail mail.  He looks like the result of a threesome between Bill Gates, Beaker, and a sad, old banana.  
Side note, I can't tell if he's a fat guy who's lost some weight or a skinny guy cake slicing his way up the scale but this just in, CNN is reporting black box pings from his neck roll.  

Rupert Christiansen

"Stressed by motherhood" was how Rupert Christiansen (Garrison Kiellor's Prairie Home Parasitic Companion) of the Telegraph described singers. Interesting observation from a man who looks like he was raised by 3 apathetic hyenas and a pile of molted owl feathers. This guy's eyebrows look like they are trying to crawl off of his face and I don't blame them.  He looks like he rubs coffee grounds into his jawline because he can't grow real facial hair. And he smells weird.  Like an elderly person's sandal in a fire or urine after a meal of leafy greens and cinnamon schnapps. Like milk that accidentally spilled into your arm cast and spoiled in there, but you can't do anything about it for 4 weeks until you get the cast off.  That kind of weird smell.  



HOW DOES IT FEEL GUYS!!!!!!  HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT!!!!!!  Not so fun when the shoe is on the other foot, huh?

Ok, that was fun.  I feel better.  Now, I know that was somewhat harsh, but I needed to prove a couple of points. 1) Reviews are dumb.  They are pointless, and they serve no purpose.  All they do is make blurbs for people's websites.  I assume the people who write them had other goals in life and they just didn't work out for them.  I know singers need to have tough skin, and they do.  They know that their performances will not be received well by everyone.  But to attack them, or bodies?  That just seems wrong.  And 2) This putting body above singing has GOT TO STOP.  It is out of control.  Comparing someone to puppy-fat while calling their singing glorious?  That shows where these reviewers priorities are.  Looks over singing.  WHY?  This is opera, not the fucking night club.  You don't see reviews for clubs that include lines like "Very attractive ladies and gentlemen, great bar, but the singing sounded like puppy farts."  Is it HD that has gotten us to this point?  Or competition with TV and Movies?  Or is it the Kardashian's?  Can we please blame it on the Kardashian's???? 

Someone tell me what we can do?  I honestly don't know.  But I do know that if we keep this "looks over voice" trend up, we won't end up with the opera we all truly love.  

Alice Coote, world class mezzo-soprano, wrote a fantastic open letter to opera critics everywhere.  She took the high road in addressing this serious issue.  
We here at Bari-Chunks will never be able to articulate our thoughts as eloquently as Ms. Coote does in the article here.  In fact, we will probably never take the high road.  We can't even see the high road from where we are.  And we're not ashamed of that.  These so called "journalists" didn't take the high road either.  And for that, they should be ashamed.  


Post Script- We apparently posted the wrong Andrew Clark in our first run.  Apologies.  Our fact checkers were too busy eating ice cream.  We assume that Andrew Clark (Financial Editor for Fart Taco) is a great guy.  By the way, if that Andrew Clark reads this, we'd like to offer you a year long subscription to Bari-Chunks for FREE.  And also, if you see your colleague Andrew Clark, tell him to quit picking on girls and grow a pair.

27 comments:

  1. Michael Church obviously has a problem with female singers. Not only does Tara Erraught have 'the demeanour of a scullery maid' (and when did anyone last see a scullery maid - on the set of Downton Abbey, maybe?!) but Dyka Oskana, the ROH Tosca, looks like 'a dumpy washerwoman'. Not to me she didn't!! What IS it with these awful blokes???!!!

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  2. The 'stressed by motherhood' comment was made about Kate Royal, not Tara Erraught as you imply at the top of this piece.

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    1. Even if it were about Kate Royal, that does not make it any less asshole-ian. Kate Royal is drop dead gorgeous (she's a model, for fuck's sake) and crazy good.

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  3. I am sitting in the middle of an airport terminal looking like an idiot because I just laughed until I cried. This is amazing. But I wish it weren't necessary!

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  4. She is a glorious singer and that is what matters most!

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  5. Thank you so much for writing this! There are too many singers out here worrying about how they look rather than their overall artistry and vocal technique. I had an audition once and one judge told me that I have a lot of
    talent, too bad you're fat. I struggle everyday with my weight and it makes it even harder when you have reviewers like that criticizing your apperance. I applaud you, and I speak for a lot of us when I say thank you!

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  6. well I have seen pictures of a lot of old men who seem not only to have run out of words, but have forgotten their manners and their prose. Time for replacements I think. There are critics out there with both language and manners and who will be there for the music.I Carol Fowler write this.

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  7. This woman is beautiful! These guys are idiots!!

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  8. Unfortunately you've got the wrong Andrew Clark. That's the Deputy Business Editor of The Times. Google doesn't seem to find any images of the FT music critic

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    1. yeah... thanks for this. thank god we're not a serious new organization...

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  9. Read opera magazine this month (yes I know some of those critics write for it)
    Interesting comments by Martina Arroyo.... Saying she and Montserrat might no have careers today.....

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    1. Okay I get it BUT.... we continue to respond in all careers where larger women are attacked with phrases like "she's beautiful" or "she's lovely" "they don't know what beauty is"..all true.. but instead of arguing about whether or not someone is beautiful, or if someone can be overweight and beautiful, perhaps we should be talking simply about the fact that it shouldn't matter. The argument should be about why we are talking about her looks at all. She isn't a model, she isn't in a beauty pageant so why are her looks even in the conversation. If we continue to make the conversation about her looks, we inadvertently support the idea that the looks matter, that 'looks' are the topic. Instead of responding on the opposite end of the spectrum from these people, let's get off the spectrum. Instead of "she's beautiful" how about "who freaking cares?".

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    2. Thank you! Being a mobile and compelling performer is one thing, but charisma on stage and this simplified, lowest-common-denominator version of "beauty" these critics (and too many casting directors) would seem to prefer are totally different animals. Instead of "She's beautiful," how about "She's thrilling," "She's convincing," or "She's kick-ass brilliant?" Any of these will get audience hearts pounding faster than a pretty face, no matter how much or little weight the body it's attached to carries.

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  10. I just googled pictures of this Tara and she is a perfectly lovely looking woman. I'm no position to know if this group of ill-mannered ass-hats critique of opera is any good but they wouldn't know beauty if it came up and punched them in the face.

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  11. not sure it is the same Andrew Clark, but this Andrew Clark has published in the FT: http://www.abc.net.au/classic/content/2014/04/09/3980623.htm?print

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  12. I know someone who has some pretty great connections when it comes to getting personal info on people. I am working to find a picture of Andrew Clark for you if someone else doesn't find one in the next few hours or if the last one wasn't accurate. We are gonna hunt that MF down.

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  13. Brilliant! I also laughed out loud in a public place but t was worth it! These so called 'critics' with the whole English language at their disposal use words and phrases such as 'stocky' a dumpy girl' 'unsightly and un-appealing' and 'a chubby bundle of puppy fat' ! It is vile to write this way about any singer, especially while not concentrating on their singing! Catherine Francoise

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  14. Did anyone ever say Luciano Pavarotti was too fat to sing on stage? I don't think so!

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    1. Well, yes, they did. But he was immobile, unhealthy, and was mailing performances in from an emotional and expressive standpoint. He was hiding behind the fat singer stereotype until the excess caught up with his viability as a performer. It's something no one should get away with, but women aren't even allowed to be human, with their own natural physiques anymore.

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  16. I cannot fathom the lack of character these critics have that they would make these rude comments about someone. Is this what becomes of bullies in school? I'd be embarrassed to reveal myself as superficial as these buffoons have done. Critique here skills, critique her costume, critique her performance! Who does this review serve? Certainly not those who like to know whether to attend the performance.

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  17. I had NO idea that physique mattered in the world of opera. I considered such a genre as beyond the trivialities of say, the moronic pop realm. Yes, she's not a model, or slender in a way that would catch my eye, personally speaking, but one goes to listen to opera to hear talent, not be titillated. As much as when I go see a banker or a dentist or receive work from a physiotherapist, I don't give a monkey's ass what they look like, rather I expect them to be good at their job. That young lady is good at her job. That her body doesn't conform to some lame-ass critic's visual aesthetic standards of attractiveness should surely count for nothing. Fire the idiots - they don't know their job if their supposedly professional assessment is based on her looks. Seriously, fire the fools.

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  18. Thank you for this wonderful article ! I just love it ! Give it to them !!!

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  19. Good Lord! The Beaker and Banana guy. Hysterical. The thing is, no MAN could hold up to the standard they hold women to in the arts. We must be super talented AND super toned. Those Kardashians cant sing. They cant do anything, as far as I can tell. This woman is beautiful. She looks like a WOMAN. At any other time in history, Victorian, Edwardian, Renaissance, Restoration, we would consider her the standard of beauty. Jenny Lind was overweight by today's standards. What hope is there for the rest of us regular size ladies that DONT have this talent? I guess it means that we are all worthless without a victorias secret body, because talent, brains, ambition and perseverance dont mean anything without a size 2 brazillian booty. I need to go look at that part about the banana again.

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  20. I believe the analogy you wanted was Pot. Belleek China. Black.

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