It Ain't Over
BY Robert Hilferty
March 17 2008 12:00 AM ET
Opera queens are
gay men who love opera and worship divas, dead or alive.
They memorize historic performances, know all the high
notes, mimic the mad scenes, and relish in backstage
But divas who are
simultaneously gay icons -- the way Barbra Streisand
and Judy Garland are in the pop world -- are far and few
between. Maria Callas is prime example, an artist
whose Will to Divadom trumped any shortcomings in her
voice, and whose life turned as tragic as that of any
of the heroines she played. She sacrificed herself for her
art, like Tosca, and her turbulent passion cut through
your ears directly to your heart, inevitably seared in
Gay men idolized
and identified with Callas in a time when the almighty
closet ruled. Terrence McNally penned a famous play in her
honor, Master Class, and Franco Zeffirelli, who
directed her in opera, also made a movie about her
called Callas Forever. There are countless
examples from other gay artists of lesser status.
Nowadays gay men
flock to another American soprano, Deborah Voigt. The
47-year-old, one of the world’s leading dramatic
sopranos, has somehow become a gay icon, a notion that
she’s aware of but didn't cultivate herself.
She far outruns figures like Marilyn Horne and Jessye Norman
who've come close to the lavender lair, but no banana.