Losing and Gaining

In 2004, I posted briefly about the firing of Deborah Voigt from a role at the Royal Opera House. The reason? She was considered too fat for the role, particularly because she couldn’t fit into a little black dress that was part of the contemporary production.

She had gastric bypass surgery and has now returned to the role. She said she didn’t have the surgery in response to being fired.

“I did it because I wasn’t feeling well, because my knees were hurting, because I would cross the street and feel as though I wasn’t going to be able to catch my breath,” Voigt told “Good Morning America.” “Because, ‘Oh my lord, I might have to sit in that chair at dinner and there are arms on it. And will I fit into that chair?'”

I’m really glad she’s lost weight to improve her health and general well-being. I continue to think that it was a shame she was ever fired in the first place.

What do you think?

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3 Comments on “Losing and Gaining”

  1. kathleen Says:

    hey kathryn,

    reality is reality. it’s hard to be fat – and fat in our culture seems to start at about 160# for women, in some cases! i mean, it is physically hard, yes, what about the arms on the chairs, loss of mobility.

    HOWEVER- that being said , i played opera with the touring company of New York City Opera for 10 years. and i will tell you that opera these days is about a narrower and narrower stratum of types of voices and about a narrow and narrower physical type. and it’s not just opera. maria callas might not have had a career today because her voice was “weird.” her acting and intelligence – unparalleled. many people have told me sarah vaughan, etta james, ella fitzgerald, pearl bailey, in no uncertain terms would not have careers because of their size. period. goodbye talent, goodbye distinctive voices and interpretation.

    the corruption and winnowing and funneling of what america sees as art or talent is pa-thetic in my opinion – – – “american idol” being the chief exemplar. we NEED unusual voices and timbres and even appearances. there is more to art than outer appearance.

    voight is far from the only one who has done this surgery. from a medical point of view, to me, bypass is enforced anorexia and malabsorption for LIFE, which for lots and lots of people (some of whom way less than 200 pounds, since this is such a money maker for doctors) is a better choice than being fat, however they define fat.

    lap banding is a much better alternative medically, much less invasive, but daily i edit reports of patients whose lap bands have eroded thru their stomachs so. . .

    i dunno. . . . just food for thought. . .it’s such a shame about the narrow view of artistic talent. we are missing out!

    by the way, voight is one goddess of a soprano, fat or thin, and her firing was absolutely unjust, imo.


  2. Mary Khan Says:

    She had gastric bypass surgery and has now returned to the role. She said she didn’t have the surgery in response to being fired.

  3. Kathryn Says:

    Hey Kathleen, I appreciate the extensive answer. I know very little about opera and found your thoughts interesting. 🙂