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NYC Opera Unplugged

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The David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center will lose its sound-enhancement system for live voices in time for November 5, when the New York City Opera opens its season, according to The New York Times.

The sound system was initially installed in 1999 to muffle the sounds of dance jumps and footsteps on stage. The New York City Opera shares the stage with the New York City Ballet, The Times reported.

But now the theater is being renovated, and amplification has long been a hot-button issue for opera-goers.

Last year, Charles Parsonsi, an opera fan who sent his thoughts on amplification to Opera News Online, said he'd been called a technology "Luddite" for saying opera should be staged unplugged.

"The chief glory of opera has always been the unamplified human voice, projected to theater-filling proportions," Parsonsi wrote to Opera News. "Will classical singers become so dependent on amplification that their art will be on a par with that of Broadway musical performers?"

Parsonsi added he was concerned about the person controlling the amplification, and asked, "Who's in control of the balance in an amplified opera performance? What happens when a conductor turns that portion of his or her job over to a technician?"

Other opera lovers don't mind amplification, including John Rockwell, a blogger for ArtsJournal.

"Opera singers are routinely adjusted electronically in the recording studio...what matters in the efficacy of a supposedly big-voiced singer (e.g., Pavarotti singing Otello) are matters of attack, linguistic and stylistic idiomatic fluency, tonal weight..." Rockwell wrote in a post last year.