Entertainment behind the scenes
U.S. soprano Deborah Voigt explained to Reuters this week how she shed 120 pounds, with the help of gastric bypass surgery, after being dropped in 2004 by London’s Royal Opera House for being too fat for a little black dress they envisaged for the part of Ariadne in “Ariadne auf Naxos”, Richard Strauss’s opera.
Four years later the same company invited her back to perform the same role in the same production. Ironic, and deliberately so, but everyone seems happy as early reviews of the slimmed-down, glammed-up singer are glowing.
At the other end of the scale, the mother of British actress Keira Knightley has been quoted in the media as saying the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star does not have an eating disorder, is naturally skinny and “eats like a horse”. Knightley won damages from a newspaper last year for linking her figure to the death of a teenager who battled with anorexia, and her weight has been the subject of persistent tabloid press interest since.
Both women are examples of the fixation with weight and image in the entertainment world, much of it fueled by the media. Both cases raise the question of whether performers should bear any responsibility to their viewers or listeners. Voigt accepts that in this day and age, a svelte singer has a better chance than a portly performer. But does that necessarily make it right?