UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, OperaWire has been made aware that the emails leaked online were out of order and therefore some of the replies, mainly those from Pamela Jones, Laurie Rogers and Peter Kazaras, were out of context. OperaWire has since communicated with Opera America’s Dan Cooperman, who provided the precise context of the communication.
Here is Cooperman’s full answer:
- At 4:01 p.m. on Friday, July 15, 2022, Pamela Jones, Artist Development Manager at OPERA America, called the Performer Development Network via the listserv to discuss topics to be discussed on a network conference call on July 21 should. (The Performer Development Network is for employees of OPERA America’s Professional Company Members and Educational Producing Associate Members involved in the training of performers.)
- At 4:12 p.m., Laurie Rogers responded with a request to discuss the issue of hiring young artists. Throughout the evening, others agreed that the topic was relevant to their experiences.
- At 11:52 am on Saturday July 16, Stephany Svorinic replied to the email thread with a pedantic, transphobic, hurtful and disrespectful letter. This was the last message in the thread and the reactions to the severity shutdown; In the leaked emails, it was singled out and presented as the first email, followed by the perception of people who were ok with it.
- Stephany Svorinic is not a member of OPERA America, an employee of any OPERA America professional opera company, or a faculty member of an OPERA America Educational Producing Associate. She joined listserv in 2019, likely through a previous affiliation with one of those organizations, but has never participated in talks before. It was removed from the listserv.
- OPERA America recognizes the need to build bridges between artist education and young artist communities to ensure there is mutual respect and caring and that the industry is a safe environment for all. We begin by bringing members of both communities together to understand the dynamics of the relationship.
- Additionally, OPERA America is developing new community guidelines for participating in its listservs and is reviewing its policies on who has access to these conversations.
We apologize for the inaccuracy of the original report and any resulting impact. What follows is the originally published article.
Opera America’s “Professional Development” listserv is under fire after leaked emails showing the administration was complaining about the young singers.
The original email, which was allegedly “on behalf of Stephany Svorinic,” reads: “Society has long cared about young people, but now more than ever, with identity front and center on every campus, advertising campaign, Tik Tok, Teens believe they are entitled to respect from everyone without first having done anything to earn that respect. Everything from ‘special’ pronouns to the forced speech that comes with it and the ramifications of real social punishment for not complying with each person’s personal whims has led to the situation we find ourselves in today, in which the people are more narcissistic and entitled than ever.”
The email continues: “Children believe they are entitled to teach the adults in the room respect, identity, decency and even morals. The social media culture, bolstered by advertisers, corporations, and educational institutions themselves, has become a cooking pot of endless ego satiation for youth whose brains aren’t even fully developed… To end this drama, adults must stand up , say no, risk being canceled and bring back appropriate social norms. Future generations will thank you for taking a stand against it.”
In response, an email from Laurie Rogers, Head of Music Staff and Director of Young Artist Program, notes that this is “by far the most difficult year in 12 years … in terms of hiring issues and difficult singers.”
Peter Kazaras, responding via the performance history list server, responded to Rogers by noting that there may not be a “special silver bullet for this problem and it may fix itself over time”. He concludes the email by saying, “The past year has been a nightmare.”
Of the screenshots shared, the latest is David Ronis, who notes that he’s also witnessing the “phenomenon” at La Musica Lirica in Italy.
Here are screenshots of the leaked emails.
OperaWire has reached out to Opera America and Laurie Rogers regarding the discussions and will update this story upon receiving a response.