May 27, 2004

Re: Tonight’s Frontline — Not Only A Pop Music Problem [7:25 am]

The Curse of Beauty for Serious Musicians

One reason being attractive gets bad press is that classical crossover albums so often flaunt image to play the virgin-whore dichotomy to the hilt. Take Bond, a string quartet of four model-beautiful young women who play electric instruments in skin-tight catsuits. Take the Opera Babes, two classically trained singers who scaled the charts with mixes like “One Fine Day” (from Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”). Sex really does sell: Bond’s first album sold two million copies. (A third album, “Classified,” is due in June.) Proponents of this kind of thing say that it is just part of an effort to find a niche for classically trained artists in a world in which they seem to be increasingly irrelevant.

[...] In a sense the resistance to strong, attractive women is comparable to resistance to so-called Eurotrash opera productions or to “La Bohème” on Broadway: resistance against any change to a status quo that already feels very, very fragile.

But the idea that women who are attractive are somehow being exploited is amusing given that some of the most visible “babes” in classical music are entirely responsible for their own images, thank you very much.

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