Comments about Concert Halls


Elizabeth:They build these halls as if they donít want to hear anything.An ideal acoustic makes the job of the singer vastly easier.You can overcome a bad room but itís hard work.


Charlie:What do you think of the Carnegie Recital Hall?


Elizabeth:Itís ideal.Carnegie is famous for that.The big hall is no slouch either for what it is.Thatís what made Carnegie Hall so famous and why it had to be rescued.Thank Isaac Stern for that.The place is a treasure.


Charlie:A good room.


Elizabeth:The best.I donít know why they donít know how to build those anymore.Itís like we forgot.The acoustics in architecture is the one thing I can think of that has moved backward.


Singing has evolved with the demands of the business.Concert and opera halls are larger than the halls people sang in a few hundred years ago.The Romantic Movement brought a fad of gigantism and today the market constraints mean you canít support a performing organization unless you can sell 2-3,000 tickets to the performance.Those are the economics.You canít survive on 800 tickets a night.The little theaters in Europe have state support.They need extra money because there arenít enough seats in the theater to support it.


Charlie:So if you could do opera in a football stadium you would be all set?


Elizabeth:Yes, then youíd make your money.They could put it on the big screen like the big sporting events.Then stay home and watch TV (laughs).


Charlie:So the problem is, if you build a room big enough to make money itís too big for opera?


Elizabeth:Right, then you canít see or hear anybody.The evolution of culture has a lot to do with the realities of the market.Why were the theaters small in the old days?Because a lot of them were located on private estates and supported by a patron.Then it didnít matter if they sold tickets.It was their family fun.It was their home theater.


Charlie:So instead of a DVD player they would have an opera house?


Elizabeth:Right (laughs).Theyíd put on spectacles and pageants and operas and concerts.There were very famous ones like the Esterhazy estate that supported Haydn.He wrote hundreds of pieces for those guys.Heíd write one every week.The composers lived at court and were paid by the piece and they were very prolific.They didnít sit around three years philosophizing.They just sat there and wrote and wrote and wrote---nothing wrong with that.But we donít have those kinds of patrons anymore.


Charlie:We donít have the composers either it seems.


Elizabeth:Well, that has evolved too.We have working composers.They are mostly in Hollywood writing movie scores.Somebody like Howard Shore is prolific.He has a whole company and people working with him.The composers are out there.They arenít doing Esterhazy operas any more.They are going where their work is needed, driven by the market.


(Interview with Elizabeth Parcells 2005)