Of the many pleasures that watching the finals of the Cardiff Singer of The World Competition last week provided (and let us just say, for the record, that Londonist is in favour of sopranos who appear to having epileptic seizures), one of the guiltiest was, whenever the announcer identified one singer or another as a participant in the Vilar Young Artist Program at Covent Garden, scouring the announcer's face for any trace of a smirk. Was that a raised eyebrow we saw?
As many people who have never set foot in an opera house now know, as of last Wednesday it will no longer be called the Vilar Young Artist Program, because the eponymous Alberto Vilar is (as we might say in an opera synopsis) languishing in prison, after having been accused of stealing $5 million from a client in order to fund his opera philanthropy.
In the good Guardian piece (linked above) summarizing all the recent, and very sad, events of this saga, David Teather produces the understatement of the month when he speculates "There may be an element of schadenfreude behind the speed at which Vilar has been dropped by the arts establishment." Really? Are you sure? Actually, the amount of Schadenfreude from every quarter — from the rich, from the poor, from the arts establishment, from the ignorant — has been overwhelming. There is something for everyone to gleefully mock. Dear Everyone: stop it.
Officially the question of whether the atrium at Covent Garden will continue to be known as the "Vilar Floral Hall" is "yet to be decided", but it wouldn't exactly come as a shock to see his name mysteriously vanish in the night. For now, the line for applicants who want their name on the Young Artist Program forms on the left. Hey! If we pooled our money, and stole from people... "Londonist Young Artist Program" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?