If this piece was written by anyone but Lou Guzzo (his archives are funky, scroll down to March 17), I’d assume it was satire on the hype around the NFL draft. For Guzzo, I think he thinks it’s a good idea.
Why Not Draft Opera Singers, Actors Like the NFL Does It?
Because it’s a terrible idea. Because nobody thinks it’s unfair that the best opera singers go to the best operas? I’m going to feel bad making fun of this if it’s actually satire.*
I’ve been an incurable football nut almost since birth, but even I have the feeling that the annual shindig called the National Football League draft is terribly overdone as entertainment, despite the valiant efforts of the league and the various owners to make it seem like the rebirth of old-time vaudeville.
Sure. Fans only have 16 games and a relatively short playoff, and they love the game, so they get excited when things like the draft, the combine, and the when next season’s schedule comes out. That’s fine: if there’s a market for it, let people watch it. People get excited about all sorts of things.
After all, what on earth is so exciting about watching an annual supermarket for excessively high priced human beef? Why in the world don’t we get that hysterical, say, over drafting talent in many other walks of life. Let’s say, grand opera, for instance. I can just hear the announcer at a Grand Opera “draft” now:
Why don’t we get hyst… Why… don’t we get that hysterical over drafting opera singers? For starters, we can’t really get excited about an event that doesn’t happen. Second, the event doesn’t happen because the operas don’t compete against each other in a league so there wouldn’t be anyone to organize the draft. And third even if there was an opera league, singers can go wherever they want to perform.
“And now, folks, please give me your undivided attention. Here is the announcement we’ve all been waiting for. Speight Jenkins, general manager of the Seattle Opera Company, will step up to the microphone and announce his first pick from among the tenors. Speight….”
Does Lou Guzzo think the NFL drafts by position? Otherwise, why would he have a pick among the tenors? Is this satire? Isn’t satire supposed to be funny?
“Ladies and gentlemen of the opera world, it gives me the greatest pleasure to report that our first draft choice is Mario Lungbuster, lyric tenor from the Cincinnati Conservatory! Mr. Lungbuster, will you please come up here to the microphone so I can introduce you properly.”
Was there any point of this paragraph?
(Can you hear the audience cheering and shouting “Bravo! at the top of the operatic registers?)
The announcer returns for a moment: “Mr. Jenkins! Mr. Jenkins! Will you please answer a few questions for our TV and radio audiences? You can? Good! OK. Here’s one from a woman in our audience. She wants to know why you selected Mario in the very first round — and can you afford to sign him to a contract?”
It sounds like this plan would make opera worse.
Mr. Jenkins: “Well, our regular tenor is still recovering from rib fractures suffered when he tried lifting the well-built soprano from the sofa in ‘La Traviata,’ and then a day later he really aggravated the injury when he fell off his horse in ‘Aida,’ but managed to finish the opera in great pain. We need a backup dramatic tenor.
“Mario is just the ticket. He’s short on experience, but he proved he knows how to go for the high notes without straining his, if you’ll pardon the expression, stomach muscles. Besides, he has well developed arm and back muscles so he’ll be able to hoist those overweight sopranos when they lean on him in the middle of a tearful aria. Oh, and to answer the second part of your question, we can afford to sign Mario to a long-term contract, but we may not have enough in the bank to pay for all his bills from his chiropractor.”
Wouldn’t anyone in a draft by necessity be short on experience? Also, Lou doesn’t seem to realize that this is a set of horrible jokes at the expense of made up people.
OK, enough already. In the same way, the symphony might use its No. 1 draft choice to replace its fumbling flutist with a Juilliard All-Star. Or, if you want to consider what the draft might do for theatrical companies, the Reportory Theater might gamble on a matinee idol who led the nation in free passes at the U.S.C. School of Drama.
Or they could pay a flutist or an actor on the market like they do now. There’s no advantage to this plan.
Say, you know something’ A culture draft might not be such a bad idea, at that, all jokes and hilarity aside. Just give me a minute, will you please? I have to make an important phone call. Dum-de dum-dum…. Hello, Seattle Opera? Would you please get me the boss, Mr. Speight Jenkins?
What hilarity? Is “Dum-de-dum-dum” the sound phones make in Guzzo’s world? Do the people answering the phones at the Seattle Opera need to be told the name of their artistic director? Like all Lou Guzzo pieces this left me with more questions than answers.
* No, I won’t.