Forum for singers about singing life, career and singing technique: management, taxes, auditions, appoggio, covering, messa di voce, placement, registers, etc.
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We opera lovers often criticize singers and discuss longevity. When we do, we seem to often ignore life style (drinking, smoking) intensity of schedule. Most of us are aware of age, however. Still, there seems to be this belief that great technique will have you sing very well until well into old age. But is this really fair? Should every 60-ear-old singer with 30-40 years of singing behind them, still have a fresh sound, quick vibrato and all that? At what age do you think a singer has every right to sound tired and worn to some degree, due to genetics and other factors, and we should really not judge?
One has to admire someone like Mariella Devia who even at age 70 still has a great voice, but she took great care of her voice over the years, whereas others, as you note, did not. But I have not focused so much on longevity of a singers vocal prowess as the fact that we must beware of those whose voices degrade and yet continue recording. In those cases, one has to be cautious of new recordings. But better than an excuse, a singer can step out before the voice goes where people start criticizing and suggesting they are past their prime. Waltraud Meier did just that; quit while she was ahead.
Many opera fans judge singers by the craziest of criteria. Sorry, but most of them just don't have a clue about profession. Opera singers, even the consistent of divine voices, are just human. You can do everything right, and simply be dealt cards that have your cords be rather stiff as you approach your 60s. Singing a lot of taxing repertoire in the best way, is still taxing. Compare it to other physical sports. Do we expect athletes sprinters of 55 to perform like the youngest and the best? Operas are vocal marathons!