the Reality of Reviews

Reviews=Dread. You wouldn’t believe how much criticism a singer takes in every day, and then returns one hour or day later and presents their heart and soul again, knowing it will once more be picked apart. Of course- when we’re in rehearsals, we know this is meant to just be helpful. At ENO especially, the staff gives everything they can to help the singers be at their best. And we love them for it, and try to take the comments with a smile that shows we really do appreciate their work and careful listening.

But reviews. This kind of criticism- often from people who don’t know what is actually happening behind the scenes- this it the most difficult to take. Sometimes, the critical comments are completely baseless, revealing a deep miscomprehension of a production or singer’s qualities. But, sometimes they are spot-on. Sometimes singers have an off-night, off-moment, or perhaps an off-role, and I have to say: We are more critical of ourselves than any reviewer will ever be. Dreading the bad review coming makes it even more difficult to make it through those tough nights.

I don’t normally read reviews during a performance run, because the negative comments have too much weight on my sensibility. The musical staff that has prepared me knows the production and my voice better than any reviewer. I rely on their comments and my own technique to make each night better.

However- after what I consider a great opening night at the ENO Traviata, one of my friends posted the headline below on my Facebook.

Reviews: wonderful relief, when they acknowledge our hearts’ profound revealings.

Thank you, Kent, for posting this headline. I actually didn’t read past it, for fear of messing up my performance Zen. But the headline made my heart fly. :-)


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