"Stick To Singing:" A Primer on Civility

     Quite different from when I originally joined the online world in the mid-2000's, opera and classical music now enjoys some share of prominence on social media. Singers have adopted the platforms available to all of us to build their fan bases online, opera companies and orchestras have followed suit, and, of course, the record labels and representatives are not to be excluded. Opera and classical music is alive and well on the Internet, and those of us who enjoy them are perhaps more connected amongst ourselves and to those aforementioned entities now than we have ever been. Indeed, for those who have known me for a long while, this is cause to rejoice.

     Singers tend to be especially active on social media. Over the years I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with many world class and regional professional singers through the likes of Twitter and Instagram. One of those singers is mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. Recently, she Tweeted an article from the New York Times that criticized President Trump's administration's alleged disregard for the environment and climate.

     One of her followers was obviously displeased at this, so he elected to respond with, "Stick to singing." Even if we completely ignore how rude such a statement is on its own merit, the philosophy behind it deserves some examination.

     This sort of attitude toward singers from any of us neglects the fact that opera singers are not merely singers; they are people who have thoughts, emotions, and ideas to share with us. Since not all people are the same with uniform ideas, preferences, or values, it is only understandable that even opera singers are bound to share something that stands in conflict to something you believe. Instead of snuffing out those human differences, focus more on embracing the common joys we hold dear. Is it too much to ask that we perhaps respect the human more than we do their talents?

     I assure you that Ms. Leonard and I would probably find ourselves in disagreement on a variety of matters, and there are manners in which we can respectfully disagree. Those differences, however, have nothing to do with the admiration I have for her as a person with an enormous heart, constant kindness toward so many, and infectious joy that she regularly shares. The fact that she is an opera singer is simply icing on the cake, as the colloquial phrase goes, and for her to "stick to singing" would deprive all of us of one of the most interesting people we could hope to enjoy.