So the reviews are coming in for Gianni “Johnny” Schicchi, which means I have to read them, and then decide if I care about them or not. Reviews are a double-edged sword in many ways. A wise voice teacher once told me, “If you believe the good ones, then you have to believe the bad ones too.” I think it was his way of saying not to worry too much about what one or two specific people think of you.
But reviews are necessary in this business of opera singing. Well, good ones are necessary anyway. We put them on our websites, we put them on our resumes, we wear them like badges of honor, and sometimes we let ourselves believe them a little too. “Why yes,” we say to ourselves, “I certainly was a highlight of that performance, wasn’t I?”
I’m not going to lie, a good review feels really good, and a bad one stings a little, but I feel pretty confident in myself at this point, and I think I know when I was on fire, and when I was distracted, or unprepared. I have gotten a bad review. It was a few years ago, and I cracked on my high note. The review said I was thin in the high register. Never mind that some deranged super was inappropriately whacking me with luggage at the time, it was still devastating.
A bad review, to me, is like a missed opportunity. I know I can sing, I know how I feel after every show, and I am probably my own harshest critic. I don’t really care, personally, about some random person’s opinion of me (okay, I do a little…), but when you wake up to a review of your performance, what you want is a beautiful soundbite that you can use to advertise yourself in the future. It is a rare opportunity to add to your collection of quotes and praises, and to get a bad a review is like missing a chance for something great.
My reviews for this current production have been good, and it’s nice to be able to add more current quotes and reviews to my bio and my website, but I guess my point is that you can’t really put your trust and faith in reviews. If the review said I was great, and I felt like I hadn’t done my best, all I would be thinking about would be how much better the review would have been if I had been just that much more awesome. And when the bad reviews come, and come they will, I can still say to myself “Hey, you are a good singer. That guy is crazy. Couldn’t he see that you were being savagely beaten during your aria?”