I just got off the telephone with someone who was offended by the headline of my profile of gay opera director John Copley: “The fat lady sings.”
See, I meant it not as a reference in any way to the girth of anyone associated with opera (certainly not the star of “The Marriage of Figaro,” the beautiful and very slim Lyubov Petrova) but in the metaphorical sense, i.e., “the opera is over,” because Copley claims â€” again â€” he’s retiring next year.
But it was pointed out to me that “fat” references â€” especially the cliche of heavy-set opera divas â€” are discriminatory, and not unlike the same epithets hurled at gays. My feeling is, in the same way gays have co-opted, and thus robbed the power from, negative terms like “queer,” “fat” had been similarly diminished as barb, from Emmy winner Camryn Manheim’s book (“Wake Up! I’m Fat!”) to a popular cooking (“Two Fat Ladies”). But maybe not.
So here it is: I’m sorry. No one associated with the Dallas Opera’s production was alluded to in the headline, and the joke, apparently, was not funny (for which I am really sorry). Just see the opera and forget about the stereotype.