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High Notes, High Appearance Standards

May 29, 2014 2 min read

My blogs regarding body image are usually more TMZ or E than NPR, but the fat-bashing that opera singer Tara Erraught, who is singing Octavian in the Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier at the Glyndebourne Festival, had to endure from five stodgy critics was unthinkable. Here’s a compilation of the critics’ reviews of her performance:
Andrew Clark, writing for the Financial Times: "Tara Erraught's Octavian is a chubby bundle of puppy-fat." He adds, as an afterthought, that her performance was "gloriously sung." In The Guardian, Andrew Clements: "It's hard to imagine this stocky Octavian as this willowy woman's plausible lover." Michael Church, writing in The Independent: "This Octavian (Tara Erraught) has the demeanor of a scullery-maid." Rupert Christiansen in The Telegraph: "Tara Erraught is dumpy of stature and whether in bedroom déshabille, disguised as Mariandel or in full aristocratic fig, her costuming makes her resemble something between Heidi and Just William. Is Jones simply trying to make the best of her intractable physique or is he trying to say something about the social-sexual dynamic?" Richard Morrison in The Times of London: "Unbelievable, unsightly and unappealing."
These comments are just so blatantly offensive, and there are probably a million different ways that I could approach this, so instead here are my top 4 problems with this situation: 1. Have you seen her? I heard about the controversy before I read about it and was outraged, then I saw her picture and was just confused. She is maybe a size 16, seriously? SERIOUSLY? 2. Pavarotti: a noticeably overweight but undeniable staple of the opera genre, with a ton of talent. A metric ton of talent. operapavarotti 3. Call me old fashioned but I think that a singer should be judged on her singing. I know, Katy Perry or maybe Iggy Azealea are partially judged on their appearance as well as their music, and I don’t want to make distinctions (well actually I do), but this a classically trained opera singer, singing in the opera. “But is she bikini-body ready?” should not be a critic’s concern. If you’re interested, and don’t mind her :devastatingly enormous: size 16 frame, you can see Tara Erraught singing here:

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