UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, it has been brought to OperaWire’s attention that the emails as leaked online, were out of order and hence some of the responses, mainly those of Pamela Jones, Laurie Rogers, and Peter Kazaras, were out of context. OperaWire has since communicated with Opera America’s Dan Cooperman who provided the accurate context of the communications.
Here is Cooperman’s response in full:
- On Friday, July 15, 2022, at 4:01pm, Pamela Jones, Artist Development Manager, at OPERA America put out a call to the Performer Development Network via the listserv for topics to discuss at a Network conference call on July 21. (The Performer Development Network is for staff at OPERA America’s Professional Company Members and Educational Producing Associate Members who are involved in the training of artists.)
- At 4:12pm, Laurie Rogers responded asking to discuss the topic of “young artist attitudes.” Throughout the evening, others agreed that the topic was relevant to their experiences.
- On Saturday, July 16, at 11:52am, Stephany Svorinic responded to the email thread with a pedantic, transphobic, hurtful, and disrespectful missive. This was the last message on the thread and its inaccurate shut down responses; In the leaked emails, it was taken out of order and portrayed as the first email followed by the perception of people agreeing with it.
- Stephany Svorinic is not a member of OPERA America nor on the staff of an OPERA America Professional Opera Company nor on the faculty of an OPERA America Educational Producing Associate. She joined the listserv in 2019, likely through a prior affiliation with one of those organizations, but has never participated in conversations prior to this. She has been removed from the listserv.
- OPERA America recognizes the need to build bridges between the artist training- and young artist-communities, to ensure that there is mutual respect and care, and that the industry is a safe environment for everyone. We will begin by bringing members of both communities together to begin to understand the dynamics of the relationship.
- Additionally, OPERA America is developing new community guidelines for participation on its listservs and reviewing its policies about who has access to join these conversations.
We apologize for the inaccuracy of the original report and any resulting repercussions. What follows is the article as originally published.
Opera America’s “professional development” listserv is under fire after emails were leaked that revealed administration complaining about the young singers.
The original email, which is said to be “on behalf of Stephany Svorinic” noted that “Society has pandered to young people for a long time but now more than ever, with identity front and center on every campus, ad campaign, tik tok, youths believe they are entitled to respect from everyone without having first done anything to earn that respect. Everything from ‘special’ pronouns to the compelled speech it entails and the ramifications of real social punishment if one does not comply with each person’s personal whims has led to the situation we are in today with people being more narcissistic and entitled than ever.”
The email continues: “Children believe they are entitled to teach the adults in the room about respect, about identity, about decorum, about morality even. The social media culture propped up by advertisers, corporations, and educational institutions themselves have become a crock pot for endless ego satiation for the young, whose brains have not even fully developed yet… To end this drama adults are going to have to step up, say no, risk being cancelled, and bring back appropriate social norms. Future generations will thank you for standing up to this.”
In response, an email by Laurie Rogers, Head of Music Staff and Director of Young Artist Program, notes that this is “the most difficult year I have had by far in 12 years… in terms of attitude issues and difficult singers.”
Peter Kazaras, responding via the Performance Development list answered Rogers by noting that there might not be “any particular silver bullet for this problem, and it may correct itself with time.” He concludes the email by noting “this past year was a nightmare.”
Of the screenshots shared, the final one belongs to David Ronis who notes that he is also experiencing the “phenomenon” in La Musica Lirica in Italy.
Here are screenshots of the leaked emails.
OperaWire has reached out to Opera America and Laurie Rogers regarding the conversations and will update this story upon the receipt of any response.