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How to be a Diva
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In the midst of a few weeks of frantic activity and high stress (prepare for wedding! get all six hundred pages of thesis notes organized and typed! write new thesis chapter! prepare for wedding guests! DO IT ALL BY FRIDAY!!!!!--or, in some cases, NEXT SATURDAY!), I've really enjoyed reading, at long last, Wayne Koestenbaum's book, The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mystery of Desire. This is one of those musicological standards that I've always heard about but never read. Not only is it beautifully written, wonderfully fun for anyone who loves opera and also a fascinating perspective on a very different viewpoint from my own, but the diva research is hilarious. Right now I'm in the middle of Chapter Three, "The Codes of Diva Conduct." How could anyone not want to be a diva? Before every first-night performance, Mary Garden told herself (as noted in her autobiography): "Mary Garden, this is your moment. Tomorrow Paris will be at your feet!" (or other great city, as appropriate)

What a way to approach life! What a way to handle challenges! Geez, what if I did that? If, instead of panicking and agonizing and obsessing over the work I hand in, I said to myself, "Stephanie Burgis, this is your moment. Tomorrow Leeds will be at your feet!"

When Adelina Patti, in her old age, heard the first recording of her voice, "she kissed the phonograph's speaking-trumpet and exclaimed, 'Ah, mon Dieu! Now I understand why I am Patti. Oh yes. What a voice! What an artist! I fully understand it all.'"

What an attitude!

And it isn't hard to be a diva. "Mary Garden in retirement, flourishing her pearls, was full of advice for younger divas. She told Dorothy Kirsten, 'Dorothy, that first impression is very important. Exude confidence and let your bosoms lead you.'"

Maybe that's what I'll do from now on....

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