|15th November 2010||#1|
Join Date: July 2005
The topic of opera has come up numerous times on this forum, and for good reason. Traditionally, the opera stage was an arena of live performance where plus-size women were not only represented, but actually dominant and worshipped. Just as the full-figured body was the historic feminine ideal in visual art throughout the ages, so was it the physical ideal in opera.
In recent years, though, due to the corrupting influence of modern culture, and the presence in the opera world of the same types of thin-supremacist individuals who run the fashion world, the opera world's traditional appreciation of curvaceous bodies has been under attack. The case of Prada working for the Met is notorious:
Many posts on this forum have discussed the destructive impact that Modernism has had on opera staging and direction, whereby historic settings have been transposed into ugly modern contexts and opera plots have been violated and rewritten to push Leftist or culturally degenerate political themes. But even worse, (if predictably,) this trend has been accompanied by a campaign against the fuller-figured soprano as well.
It would be worth this forum's time to find examples of present-day sopranos who still do embody plus-size beauty, and to celebrate their careers. Today's full-figured sopranos encounter a growing degree of curve-o-phobic prejudice in the opera world, a prejudice that is rapidly resembling the institutional discrimination against the larger female body in the fashion world.
- - - -
Last year, a post on this forum celebrated Cheryl Studer as perhaps the most beautiful full-figured soprano of the last few decades. Cheryl is now a mature star, but I've found at least one example of a younger soprano who is curvaceous and beautiful, and deserves limitless praise.
Her name is Twyla Robinson. This headshot shows just how gorgeous she is:
I discovered her as I was reading a review of a Cincinnati performance of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg from earlier this year. Casting is always a problem in Wagner these days, and the role of Eva, the female lead, is almost always miscast with a singer who is either too thin, or too old, or both. But Twyla was the perfect physical embodiment of Eva, a youthful and well-fed young German Mädchen:
The review's description of her performance is fascinating:
Here are a few more images. Another beautiful headshot in which you can see the attractive fullness in her face.
Twyla appears to have performed in Don Giovanni more often than in any other work. Here are two images of her as Donna Anna, looking young and plump (just as the character is supposed to be). Who could blame Don Giovanni for wanting to ravish her?
Here she is as Donna Anna in a different production. The wardrobe is too mannish, but it suggests the generous proportions of her figure.
Changing roles, these pictures show her as the embittered Donna Elvira, the other female lead, in yet another staging of Don Giovanni. The first picture shows a soft curve under the chin.
She appears at the far left in the following image, in an outfit that closely resembles the wardrobe of Lady Hamilton (who in real life would have been just as lusciously proportioned as Twyla):
In this image (from a typically odd, modernized opera production), she appears as the curvy girl sitting on the bed:
Here she is in concert:
Twyla is just as attractive in her real-life wardrobe. For example, this image shows her rehearsing for a concert, looking buxom in her fitted sweater.
At a gala reception, with a pretty hairstyle:
The following video shows Twyla in action -- not in an opera, but in a concert performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony. This excerpt includes a number of solo soprano passages -- at 64:42, and 66:42 in particular, with a full-length shot at 68:04, showing her gorgeous gown with its plunging neckline, which exhibits her voluptuous beauty. Mahler can be challenging to the senses upon a first hearing, but whatever one thinks of the music itself, Twyla sings like an angel.
And finally, here's her official page at her management company. Twyla is a breathtakingly beautiful young soprano with a bright career ahead of her. I hope she becomes world-famous, and I especially hope that she never diminishes her sumptuous figure, but remains at least as opulently proportioned as she currently is.
Last edited by HSG : 27th January 2012 at 20:49. Reason: Image URLs updated
|17th November 2010||#2|
Join Date: January 2010
Re: Twyla Robinson
What a gorgeous woman! It would be as much of a pleasure to attend a opera or concert starring Twyla to gaze upon her beauty as it would be to listen to her soaring voice, which has been described as "clear," "pure," and "crystalline." Some reviews:
More than one reviewer has praised her for her "creamy" tone, and I can't help but think that they are responding to her physical appearance as well as to her radiant singing.
Here are a few more photos of Twyla as buxom Donna Anna in Don Giovanni:
Here she is in Edwardian guise (in the white blouse, with the Lillian-Russell-like updo) in a Britten opera.
A pair of personal candids showing her with an adorable, pouty smile. She's so beautiful!
|28th November 2010||#3|
Join Date: May 2010
Re: Twyla Robinson
I found one more image of Twyla that I'm sure everyone will love, showing her in a performance with the Zurich opera.
She's so buxom, so voluptuous. She would make any opera worth seeing.
Anyone hoping to hear the gorgeous Twyla Robinson in concert has three more opportunities in the 2010/2011 season, as far as I can tell. If anyone knows of any more dates, please share them.
1. Brahms Requiem with the St. Louis Symphony on Jan. 21st and 22nd 2011, 8PM:
2. Zemlinsky's Lyric Suite with the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington DC) on Jan 27-29 and March 17, 19, 20, 2011:
3. Mahler's Symphony Nr. 2 "Resurrection" with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on June 11 and 12, 2011:
I personally think that Twyla was born to be a Wagnerian soprano, especially in the role of the adorable Eva. I also think that she'd be an amazing Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, or Agathe in Weber's Der Freischütz.
|30th November 2010||#4|
Join Date: July 2005
Twyla Robinson in ''Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg''
The casting of Twyla Robinson as Eva in this production of Die Meistersinger was one of those rare occurrences when the stars align to produce an ideal artistic result. Based on the reviews, and on the image that was included in the article, this is the role that Twyla was born to play.
Alas, no video exists of the Cincinnati performance, so no one who didn't attend the run of shows will ever see Twyla's delightfully fresh, youthful exuberance in the role--exactly the persona that Wagner intended for this enchanting character, the very personification of winsome German girlhood.
However, the Cincinnati Opera Company does offer the next-best thing--an online photo album which provides a remarkably comprehensive account of the entire production, scene by scene, moment by moment.
We will post a small selection from this album to offer a sense of Twyla's look and demeanour in the part, but Wagner fans will want to peruse the entire gallery to form a thorough impression of the performance.
The first image immediately reveals something wonderful about the production, even beyond Twyla's participation. It shows a set that is immediately recognizable as the famous Church of St. Catherine in Nürnberg--exactly what Wagner's stage directions require. (This historic church was bombed flat by the Allies in 1945, as was most of the city.) The young knight Walter von Stolzing is seen trying to catch the attention of Eva, who is participating in the mass.
These days, Wagnerian operas are rarely performed faithfully and in accordance with the composer's wishes. As we noted in a post several years ago, modern opera productions tend to be utter travesties that dispense with Wagner's ideas and instead substitute politically propagandistic stagings that are by turns absurd, offensive, or both. Most modern opera directors behave like overgrown schoolchildren defacing cultural monuments with graffiti. One can almost hear their adolescent cackling as they seek to outrage audiences by creating degenerate, "alternative," anti-Wagnerian productions riddled with emblems of cultural Marxism and Leftist propaganda. Thus, a genuinely traditional production of Die Meistersinger being staged anywhere in the world is a rare treat. The sets for this Cincinnati performance were purchased from the opera company of Dresden (another historic city that was obliterated in the Allied bombing campaigns). The people of Cincinnati likely had no idea how fortunate they were in seeing a Wagner opera that was faithful to the composer's wishes.
This image vividly showcases Twyla's beauty and indicates how perfect a choice she was for the role. She is very buxom, with apple cheeks, round facial features, flowing golden hair, and a robust, fed look that conveys a sense of blossoming young womanhood.
After the service--as fans of the opera know--there ensues a highly entertaining bit of business as Eva's maid devises multiple excuses for Eva to spend time being courted by Walter. This particular Walter is a bit old for his part, since he is actually meant to be a young knight, more or less the same age as Eva.
A profile shot indicates Eva's shapeliness, with her full arms and a lusciously expansive waist. Twyla vividly brings the character to life, creating the impression of a petted, sweetly spoiled, but virtuous young girl, the darling of Nürnberg, forever treated to the richest pastries by the local bakers, always crowned as the May Princess and the Harvest Queen during the town's seasonal celebrations, universally acknowledged as the most beautiful girl in Franconia--and now the apple of the knight's eye, her beauty transcending her middle-class station and winning her the love of a member of the nobility.
The second act opens in a street in medieval Nürnberg. This portion of the performance boasts the most beautiful sets of the entire production. Anyone who enjoyed the Fachwerk architecture on display in Disney's Tangled will especially appreciate these images, which capture the town's picturesque beauty during the Middle Ages. Here, Eva appears alongside her father, who has vowed only to give his daughter's hand in marriage to a Meistersinger, a performer recognized as a master by the town's poetry guild--and in fact, only to the Mastersinger who wins the contest of song at the Midsummer Festival, which is set to take place the following day.
As evening falls, Eva shares a scene with the true hero of the opera (and an authentic historical personage), the famous cobbler/poet of Nürnberg, Hans Sachs. This image offers a good sense of the beautiful half-timbered architecture of medieval Nürnberg, which the Romantics prized so highly for its organic look.
The scenes between Sachs and Eva are the most touching in the entire opera. She flirts with the widower, whom she has known from girlhood, and even suggests that Sachs himself should try to court her. Ever since the opera was composed, Wagnerians have debated to what degree Eva is sincere in her coquetry with Sachs, and to what degree she simply flirts with him in order to secure his promise to help the young knight, Walter von Stolzing, gain entry into the guild of the Mastersingers.The truth, likely, is that Eva loves them both, the young Walter and the mature Sachs. The cobbler, for his part, is deeply attracted to Eva, but recognizes the impossibility of ever winning her affections, given their difference in age, and is afraid of having his heart broken.
Sure enough, later in the scene, Walter (who has clashed with the Meistersinger and seems unlikely to be accepted into their ranks) proposes that he and Eva elope. The two are on the point of doing so, but Sachs notices them and cleverly sings a song, in earshot of the pair, that touches Eva's conscience and makes her think better of living in sin. Twyla looks especially lovely in this still, resembling traditional images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with her rosy cheeks and angelic appearance.
The third act opens in Sachs's workshop on the following morning--Midsummer's Day, the day when Eva is supposed to be wed. The young girl arrives at Sach's home under the pretense that her shoes are pinching her feet. Observe how bountiful and full-figured Twyla appears in her gorgeous and authentically medieval white wedding gown.
Folklorists will notice how this scene echoes the fairy-tale of Cinderella, in which the prince discovers the true identity of his beloved by slipping Cinderella's missing shoe on her foot.
But alas, as fairy-tales prove, beautiful girls are meant to be with princes, not cobbler/poets, and Eva's attention--previously devoted to Sachs--turns immediately to Walter as the knight arrives on the scene.
Sachs, recognizing the inevitability of Fate and the eternal truth that young love conquers all, walks off in despond. However, much as she loves Walter, Eva pines for her devoted friend as well, and feels terrible for having broken his heart. Her buxom curves help the audience appreciate Sachs's love for her, no matter how hopeless that love may have been.
The many close-ups of Twyla indicate how much her beauty spellbound the Cincinnati audience. She appears especially attractive in this image, with a dress that accentuates her voluptuousness, a bodice that has been loosened wide to accommodate her generous waist, and a sumptuous fullness at the neck area.
This following photograph perfectly encapsulates Eva's choice, torn as she is between the young man whom she loves and the older man whom she respects and adores. Observe the beauty of the set design, which authentically captures the half-timbered charm of medieval Germany. Eva herself appears so well-fed, so youthfully robust, that the viewer comprehends at once the significance of this character, whom Wagner meant to embody the eternal feminine principle, the very archetype of womanhood. What a contrast Wagner's Eva presents to the modern age. Whereas today, media starlets are androgynous, emaciated stick figures with leathery over-tanned skin, sinewy limbs, and mannish facial features, in the Middle Ages a girl such as this--a Twyla Robinson--would have been the world's most celebrated beauty, with her opulent figure, her plump features, her fair and rosy complexion.
Inevitably, Eva rejoins Walter, and the two hold hands, knowing that they are meant for one another. Yet Twyla--an excellent actress as well as a brilliant singer--infuses her expression with anguish, indicating her troubled thoughts. Notice how gorgeously full her figure appears in this image, with an especially sumptuous waist.
The final scene of Die Meistersinger begins with one of the most glorious sights in opera, the grand procession of the Nürnberg trade guilds assembling for the Midsummer Festival. Lacking a sufficiently cavernous stage to give the parade a proper sense of scale, this director devised the clever idea of having the Mastersingers enter through the hall itself, as if these Cincinnati opera patrons were themselves the residents of Nürnberg. Observe Twyla's buxom beauty as she enters with her father.
As the townspeople gather to hear the Mastersingers compete in the contest of song, the bride-to-be looks especially gorgeous, with blossoms in her hair. Notice the sincerity of emotion that Twyla exudes, her countenance beaming with happiness.
And what has brought her so much joy? Her beloved Walter has taken the podium and is singing his virtuosic master-song (thanks to some clever negotiation by Sachs):
The power of Walter's voice, and the brilliance of his master-song, touch every listener's heart, making him the undisputed winner of the contest, and eligible to take Eva for his bride. The soft curves along Twyla's back, and the luscious fullness of her figure, are once again evident in this charming image.
Eva gladly, joyously, places the winner's wreath upon her knight's head to mark his triumph.
As the chorus swells and the townsfolk dance, Die Meistersinger concludes with one of the most touching moments in all of opera. Having brought the two lovers together, Sachs wistfully walks off, happy for his friends, but privately saddened as well. Eva, noticing his heartache, takes the laurel crown and, with the enthusiastic approval of all of the townspeople, places the wreath upon Sachs's head, as the chorus sings: "All hail Nürnberg's beloved Sachs!" In this final lovely image, Eva appears most full-figured of all, a blossoming young maiden, the very flower of German womanhood.
At a time when the opera world has been doubly blighted, first by the intrusion of modernist, degenerate productions that violate the composers' wishes, and second by the rejection of singers who exhibit full-figured feminine beauty, it is refreshing to discover a performance that was staged in a traditional manner, honouring Wagner's intentions, and featuring a truly plus-size soprano who was young and beautiful enough to convincingly embody her role.
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