Twin news stories today:
Classical blogs are spreading the word that international diva Renee Fleming is pondering retirement in a few years. (Indeed, there’s a lot of activity — as this post goes to press, her website is down, apparently due to a flood of server traffic.) She’s planning ahead, of course, a requirement in an industry where companies book celebs years in advance. With roles currently booked into 2018, the 55-year-old is considering stopping at that point, telling Reuters, “I’m not stopping yet – let’s not put the cart before the horse, but I’m thinking down the road.” She explains that “there’s almost nothing” in the soprano repertoire for older voices, not like the venerated character parts mezzos can still perform believably and well.
At the same time, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has announced that he’ll hang up his loupe after his tenth film. QT’s reasoning is different, of course, but no less valid, as cinema’s wild child says he’d like to leave audiences “wanting a bit more”.
Of course, both stars have done very well for themselves, and it’s probably safe to assume they can afford to stop working whenever they wish. But there’s a lesson here for all of us, as continuing past the point of efficacy includes many risks, including the ruin of reputation, lowering the level of excellence for everyone, and even hurting the art form.
Yes, it matters
So the question is, have you thought about when you’ll pack it in? It could be vocal factors, stamina, family issues, health concerns or a simple change of interests. But the old adage that “when I’m old, I’ll teach” isn’t a valid retirement plan, and we all need to be prepared for whatever comes. Time to dust off Plans B and C, so we can all be ready for anything, and take a graceful bow when the time comes.
In the meantime…
Of course, both the diva and the director are hedging a bit, each admitting that plans could change. For now, we have these projects to look forward to:
Fleming’s new CD, Christmas in New York, hopes to make the season bright, stretching the opera star’s pop chops with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Rufus Wainwright, and jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. She’s currently in Dresden for the Strauss fest, will be in New York soon for The Merry Widow at the Met, and is gearing up for a winter recital tour on the eastern half of the US.
Tarantino is currently in pre-production for The Hateful Eight, the already fateful tenth film that almost didn’t get made after the script was leaked online. The post-Civil War western is slated for a 2015 release, and then we’ll have to see what he’s up to next.