Friday, July 08, 2016

What Does Emerging [fill-in-the-blank] Really Mean? And How Long Does It Take to Emerge?

Well, I think I will say: practically nothing, and as long as you need.

This slightly dyspeptic thought stimulated by the fact that "emerging [something]" seems to be the biggest cliche in classical music these days. Practically the only worthwhile thought in composer Kevin Volans' speech is his mention that "emerging composer" is a ridiculous and overly restrictive category, because composers put in that category get attention that drops off as soon as they are seen to have emerged...or reach age 40...and because composer typically get better over time.

Now I've got a press release saying that baritone Lucas Meachem is the Emerging Star of the Year, winner of the 2016 Emerging Stars of the Year Competition. He earned this title through an online poll.

So, um, how is an online poll anything other than a popularity contest? And how do we know that he is THE emerging star of the year, when the poll seems to have been restricted to San Francisco Opera singers supported by the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Emerging Stars Fund? What exactly are the criteria for appearing in this poll?

Says the press release:
The other artists supported by the fund and featured in this competition were Malin Byström (Jenůfa/title role), Sasha Cooke (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg/Magdalena), Leah Crocetto (Luisa Miller/title role), Michael Fabiano (Luisa Miller/Rodolfo; Don Carlo/title role), Brian Jagde (Carmen/Don José), Daniela Mack (Il Barbiere di Siviglia/Rosina), Brian Mulligan (Sweeney Todd/title role; Lucia di Lammermoor/Enrico; La Chute de la Maison Usher and Usher House/title roles), Alek Shrader (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg/David), Nadine Sierra (Lucia di Lammermoor/title role; The Magic Flute/Pamina) and Heidi Stober (Sweeney Todd/Johanna).
Also, you know, Meachem made his first major San Francisco Opera appearances more than a decade ago, appearing in small roles in the 2003-04 season. Online sources suggest that he is 37 years old, which, quite honestly, is typically mid-career. You could also take a look at his OperaBase page to get an idea of the size of his career: it looks pretty darned big to me, with appearances in the recent past and near future at the Met, SFO, LOC,  ROH, LAO, Den Norsk Opera, Dallas Opera, and elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Definitions of "emerging":

1) You hadn't heard of them before.

2) You think other people might not have heard of them.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Apparently so, despite the fact that 1) voters in the poll MUST have heard of these singers 2) Fabiano and Cooke are stars. Crocetto is singing all over the place, and, well, so are the rest of them.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there's a

3) You remember when you hadn't heard of them.

Cameron Kelsall said...

"Fast-rising" is another similar adjective I tend to see a lot in opera reviews, and often somewhat inappropriately. I saw a review recently that described Erin Morley as "a fast-rising soprano." I think she's already risen.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yeah, that seems right! It's several years since I saw her in King Roger in Santa Fe!