I’m sure you have all heard the old expression, ” It ain’t over till the Fat Lady Sings”, but do you know how that saying originated? The phrase is generally referencing the stereotypically overweight sopranos of Grand Opera. The musical connection most associated with this phrase is the operatic role of Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Brünnhilde aka “the fat lady” is traditionally a very buxom lady with a winged helmet, a spear, and round shield, you know, the typical chic viking apparel. Her aria lasts almost twenty minutes and leads directly to the end of the opera, hence the phrase “it ain’t over till the Fat Lady sings”. Götterdämerung is the last installment of Richard Wagner’s epic 4 part opera ” Der Ring des Nibelungen”or The Ring Cycle.
Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde at The Metropolitan Opera House in NYC
The Ring Cycle is one of the most epic operas ever written. It is an amazing opera on a monumental scale. The opera in full is over 15 hours and is seen over the length of 4 nights. Don’t get me wrong I love going to the opera, but ” The Ring Cycle” is a long, long endeavor. So when I see the large and in charge Brünnhilde come out to sing the final aria I can’t help but be excited. Wagner created the story of the Ring by fusing elements from many German and Scandinavian myths and folk tales. Fun fact that few people know is, the hit book and movie series ” Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R Tolkein was actually inspired by Wagner’s ” Der Ring des Nibelungen”.
Below is a excerpt from the Met’s Production. The Ride of the Valkyries is probably the most well know piece of music from this opera. I can bet you that you have heard this piece many times while watching TV because it has been used in many commercials, and has even been used on Looney Tunes. Opera is everywhere you just have to know what to listen for.
I’m sorry I am getting carried away, but this is such an incredible piece of work. I just thought you might like to know a little bit about this amazing opera and hopefully this will spark your interest to go see it. It is playing now at The Metropolitan Opera in NYC with one of the best Brunnhildes of all times,opera diva ,Deborah Voigt. Which brings me to the theme behind this week’s posts.
I am here to bust that old myth that opera singers have to be big in order to have big voices. Deborah Voigt who is one of the most acclaimed opera singers of all times has always battled with her weight and the publics opinion on her weight as well. In fact, in 2003 Ms. Voigt was let go from a gig she had at London’s Royal Opera House, Convent Garden, for being too large. The controversy over Deborah’s weight was sparked by a little black cocktail dress that the costumer designer had intended the soprano to wear in the production of ” Ariadne auf Naxos”. When it was clear that Ms. Voigt ,with her Rubenesque figure, could not fit into the dress she was sadly let go.
Deborah Voigt before weight loss surgery
Lets face it, weight is always a touchy topic no matter who you are. Weight and over all physical appearance has always been an important factor in the performance industry, however the opera world was never as concerned with size until recently. Opera singers are expected to do much more these days than just “park and bark”. They not only have to deliver with their voices, they have to be convincing to the audience and physical appearance plays an important role in the believability. Ms. Voigt’s enormous talent and voice has been celebrated and admired for year, but her weight and physical size was once a big topic of discussion and controversy. Well after shedding an amazing 140lbs, I am happy to saw that these days the only thing “big” about Ms. Voigt is her incredible voice and “obese” amount of talent.
To honor this diva’s hard work on and off the stage I am getting healthy this month. Spring has finally sprung which means that summer is right around the corner and you know what that means ladies…. Bikini season is approaching AAAAHHHHH!! So to get myself in shape, all month long I will be making delicious, light and healthy meals. I’m calling it the ,” It ain’t over till the Fat lady’s ‘thin’ ” Month. My inspiration and motivator will be Deborah Voigt; and if I hit a rough patch I will just think of the courageous, bad ass, character of Brünnhilde.
Below is a clip from Deborah Voigt’s interview with Diane Sawyer after her amazing weight loss.