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June Pelo
08-04-04, 21:44
The editor of the Finnish American Reporter newspaper wrote an editorial - parts of which I have excerpted here:

"In the past few months two women have caught the eye of a media-crazed public by performing on stage in ways that were once considered unthinkable. These two forty-something divas are superstars in their respective fields of music. The first is an African-American pop star whose now infamous "costume malfunction" caused a media frenzy and well-deserved condemnation around the world. In one fell-swoop her much younger male co-star, in a well-rehearsed "accident" exposed her breast for all the world to see.

"A few weeks ago, the second woman, a blond, blue-eyed Finnish soprano, danced and writhed out of her costume of seven veils on the Metropolitan Opera house's center stage, flanked by two much younger men. The two men assisted in the disrobing, including the use of their teeth, that resulted in a total, albeit fleeting, moment of full frontal nudity. At the end, according to New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini, the soprano "seemed almost frightened by the vehemence of the audience's applause and shouts of 'Bravo!'"

One might ask what's going on -- two middle-aged ladies, both clinging to their youth, place themselves in roles of subjugation allowing men to strip them bare. And, although they, as well as their sponsors, smiled all the way to the bank, the African-American pop singer became the buffoon, while the Caucasian opera star got the "bravos." Was there really much difference in what each did?

An enduring allure of the ancient Kalevala comes from the underlying message -- power lies in one's wit and word, not physical attribute. Karita Mattila, a world-class soprano, sang "this daunting role with .. gleaming power, eerie expressivity and, most remarkably of all, beguiling lyricism," according to Tommasini. Then why was it necessary to bare all? Was it artist expression or media maneuver for a fast buck?

The veil of truth seems revealingly thin."

The article goes on to say that the performance "had the tabloids licking their lips: in the famous "Dance of the Seven Veils" scene, there was no "wardrobe malfunction," but Mattila shed item after item to stand briefly "exultant, half-crazed and completely naked."... It will be interesting to observe the impact her nude scenes will have on her followers both in Finland and the US.

June