October 02, 2007

Ask La Divina

(Soho the Dog is pleased to welcome to these virtual pages the operatic luminary and advice columnist La Divina, to answer readers' questions on life, love, career, and fioratura.)

Dear La Divina,

I am a guileless diva who was recently fired from a production of
La Bohéme simply for missing one or two unimportant rehearsals in order to see my tenor husband open a production at, let's face it, a far more internationally renowned house. How dare they deny me permission to be by his side at this important time! And now my replacement is garnering the glowing reviews that should rightly be mine. Shouldn't my public be rallying to my defense for placing romantic fidelity before a mere run-through of an opera that I could, and frequently do, sing in my sleep?

Tanto freddo in Chicago
Dear Tanto,

Tired repertoire is not the issue here. And the only place you should be by your husband's side is on stage. Otherwise, you can only share in his applause vicariously. A diva is never vicarious. I don't care how prone to a meltdown this man is.

But your real problem is this guilelessness you mention. There is simply no excuse for finding yourself released from a contract on any terms but your own. You should have walked out long before any simple administrator had the chance to fire you. Now, if certain legal issues meant you had to push this bean-counter into dissolving the contract, the proper response on your part is to blame them for overworking you, for treating you like a farm animal, for deliberately endangering your voice through all these pointless run-throughs. Whining that they failed to give you permission to leave? Unacceptable. The prima donna neither asks for nor, indeed, requires permission. As for your replacement, let this be a lesson to you: always demand that your understudy be incompetent and, if possible, physically unattractive. If you cannot, through threats or histrionics, obtain this guarantee, you hardly deserve to call yourself a diva.

La Divina

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