New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, June 17, 2024
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Mar 24, 2003

During one season of the New Orleans Opera Association (if memory serves me, it was in the late 1960's or early 1970's), Bourbon Street strippers picketed the opera house. Why?

In one scene of the opera there was complete disrobing. The strippers were upset because they were forced to wear G-strings and the opera diva was not.

The singer was Carol Neblett, a tall, statuesque blonde, and it was a French opera entitled Thais. (Actually, my husband sang with her years later in Mexico City.) Anyway, in this production, there was apparently a bit where she dropped her robe and was seen very briefly in her birthday suit. I have a feeling the strippers just used the whole incident to have some fun and get a bit of publicity - it was really a big to-do over nothing.

In opera in Europe these days (particularly in Germany) that sort of thing is old hat - but this was a long time ago, and probably a bit shocking to the generally conservative N.O. opera audience!

And people think opera is stuffy! Ms. Neblett's nanosecond of nakedness is tame compared to some of the stuff that goes on today in some opera companies, more so in Europe than in North America. But a lot of it has no artistic merit - it's just for shock value, perpetrated on singers and audiences alike by avant-garde directors (who often come from a theatre background and appear not even to like the music), and who have distinct egomaniacal tendencies - they're more interested in their odd concepts (which of course they consider "brilliant") than what the composer and librettist intended.

Jeez, don't get me started - it's a real pet peeve!

Suffice it to say, opera isn't always what non-opera fans think it is!

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