Audra McDonald & Soledad O’Brien
Juan Diego Florez & Sacha Baron Cohen
Rolando Villazon & Mr. Bean
Marina Poplavskaya & Meryl Streep
Anna Netrebko & Salma Hayek
Natalie Dessay & Rachel Dratch
Deborah Voigt & Nancy Grace
Audra McDonald & Soledad O’Brien
Juan Diego Florez & Sacha Baron Cohen
Rolando Villazon & Mr. Bean
Marina Poplavskaya & Meryl Streep
Anna Netrebko & Salma Hayek
Natalie Dessay & Rachel Dratch
Deborah Voigt & Nancy Grace
Coppia iniqua! - From “Anna Bolena”
The final scene from “Anna Bolena” sung by Anna Netrebko. Please take note of the awesome final theatrical coup staged by David McVicar.
“When I started, my teachers told me that I had to sing Mozart, Mozart, Mozart. I said no, I want to sing all the other stuff. If you do not push yourself, you will stay the same. Maybe some singers are happy with that, but I have to move, I have to do something new always.”
- Anna Netrebko
“Donna Anna, Traviata — people say, No, no, don’t do it, it’s too early. But I think, No, I’d like to try, and now look, if I let them, they’d have me sing ‘Traviata’ all the time, and it would destroy my voice in three years!”
- Anna Netrebko
The Metropolitan Opera announced their new season today. Unlike last season, there appears to be a few bright spots amid all the dross.
What I am excited for:
‘Maria Stuarda’ with Joyce DiDonato - After the success of ‘Anna Bolena’ - the only interesting thing the Met has staged this season - I’m totally pumped to see the untouchable, charismatic Joyce DiDonato take on one of Donizetti’s most complex heroines. ‘Stuarda’ is definitely my favorite of the three ‘Tudor Queen’ operas, and it will be nice to see the role, rightfully, returned to a leading mezzo soprano. I was actually a fan of David McVicar’s gritty, inky production of ‘Anna Bolena,’ but I hope he takes a fresh approach to this new ‘Stuarda.’
‘Rigoletto’ transplanted to Las Vegas - Finally, we can bid adieu to Otto Schenk’s drearily realistic production, which has been long overdue for retirement. Director Michael Mayer has provided some of my most pleasurable theatergoing moments but, as we all know, brilliant theater directors do not equal brilliant opera directors. Still, the idea of transplanting the tale of the hunchback jester to a seedy Las Vegas setting is just too tempting. Let’s hope Mr. Mayer is brave enough to realize his concept all the way through, instead of the usual timidly half-assed approach that has become the norm at the Met. Željko Lucic is one of the most elegant baritones working today, and Diana Damrau should make an excellent Gilda!
‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ by David Alden - Finally, an edgy “Euro-trash” director at the Met! David Alden, much like his brother Christopher, is famous for his bold, courageous reinterpretations of operas. I must admit that I am not really a fan of ‘Ballo,’ which is a hot-mess of plotting and themes. But given the right treatment, even the most problematic works can really take flight in the hands of a brilliant director. Mr. Alden is a pro with a distinct vision; he understands what makes opera tick, and is capable of providing a riveting theatrical experience.
What I am, tentatively, anticipating:
Thomas Adès’s ‘The Tempest’ - This is one brilliant fucking opera that deserves to be seen! I love all things Adès - whom I think is a genius, and one of the best composers of our generation - and his deeply personal take on Shakespeare’s comedy is thrilling and truly touching. What’s more: Simon Keenleyside, who created the role of Prospero, is back with his winning portrayal. Unfortunately, Robert Lepage is directing, so there is every chance that the production will swallow the drama and the music. After all, if Wagner couldn’t triumph over Lepage, what chance does Adès have?
‘L’Elisir d’Amore’ directed by Bartlett Sher - J’adore Bart Sher! Honestly, his work on ‘Light in the Piazza’ and his luminous ‘South Pacific’ were two of the most emotionally devastating (in a good way) pieces of theater I’ve had the privilege of witnessing. But, Sher’s track record with opera has been more varied. Anna Netrebko proved she was one of the toughest bitches around with her stunning ‘Anna Bolena’ earlier this season. Under the guidance of a good director, she can be one of the most truthful, nuanced actresses in all of opera. But one of her worst, most embarrassing performances came courtesy of Mr. Sher in his muddled ‘Contes d’Hoffmann.’ Let’s hope Mr. Sher has a plan going in this time, and that he gets plenty of rehearsals with his leading lady.
Handel’s ‘Giulio Cesare’ - I’d rather chew my arm off than sit through a Handel opera - make that any Baroque opera. ‘The Enchanted Island’ was a particularly punishing night at the opera. But Natalie Dessay could sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and make it interesting, and La McVicar has, apparently, worked wonders with this opera. It’s unfortunate that this is the only Dessay appearance of the season, but this might end up being a delightful surprise.
La Boheme (2008) - Movie Review
Required watching my Kiddies!
Here we have the 2008 film adaptation of ‘La Boheme’ directed by Robert Dornhelm. Though the film isn’t entirely a success (how could it be given the limitations of film, lip-syncing, and the like?,) it is nonetheless a very well sung, beautifully acted and thoughtfully directed adaptation of the opera. It is also, coincidentally, the only production of ‘La Boheme’ that has ever moved me (to tears in fact.)
If anything, this film is a magnificent showcase for Anna Netrebko’s incredible acting skills. This fabulous singing actress has always demonstrated insightful dramatic instincts onstage, but here, she finally stakes her claim as an actress of nuance and considerable depth. She doesn’t just turn Mimi, something of a blur in the libretto, into a fully dimensional character, she also helps lift up several weaker performances and invests this movie with just the right amount of pathos without sliding into goopy melodrama.
Until I saw this ‘Boheme,’ I was convinced that opera had no place on film unless it was a filmed version of a staged production; I have no such reservations anymore. Perhaps the most audacious aspect of this film is its straightforwardness.
Directors are often dismayed by opera in general, but when it comes to filming an opera, they tend to be even more inept. They approach famous works with giant air quotes or broad artistic aesthetics as if to say, “This is ‘Opera’ don’t take it too seriously” or, “It’s okay folks! We’ve provided a Brechtian distance so you won’t feel weird when the performers start singing.” The results can be dismaying…or just plain scary. (Remember that ‘Tosca’ shot on location in Rome? Me neither.)
As Rodolfo, Rolando Villazón has a very unusual take on the part, yet the end result works in ways that are unexpected and thrilling. This Rodolfo is no stock male lead (as he is typically portrayed.) In the capable hands of Mr. Villazon, Rodolfo comes off as a goofy, slightly awkward, nebbishy man. He’s a lost puppy (think Roberto Benigni by way of Woody Allen) in need of love and affection. It’s an endearing performance, and a perfect counterpoint to Ms. Netrebko’s undeniable glamour and sex appeal. It’s easy to understand, from their first encounter, why Mimi would fall for this guy.
As Musetta, Nicole Cabelle deftly shifts from blustery coquette to loyal friend and caregiver. George Von Bergen provides the most sympathetically human take on Marcello I’ve ever encountered. For once, Marcello makes an impression and doesn’t feel like a secondary character. You get a real sense of the friendship he and Rodolfo share.
I wish I could say the same for the rest of the cast. That would truly make this an ensemble piece which, at the end of the day, is what ‘La Boheme’ is all about. Alas, the supporting cast all seem to be playing types rather than character. With their broad mugging and ham-handed shtick, they’d look just as ludicrous on the stage.
But that certainly doesn’t spoil the fun. The chemistry between Netrebko and Villazón has never been more electrifying, and you can see why six years ago they were setting the opera world on fire. This ‘Boheme’ is a triumph and ought to serve as the yardstick by which all other opera films are measured. At last, we have a definitive document of ‘La Boheme,’ featuring two of the greatest singers of our day. Now maybe we won’t have to endure the Zeffirelli revival EVERY YEAR…
Ever since I became an opera fan, I have wrestled with my feelings about Anna Netrebko. She’s undeniably THE diva of our day, with the box-office receipts and the star power to prove it. By any standard (and I do mean ANY), Ms. Netrebko is an unbelievably gorgeous woman. No one can deny that when she steps on an opera stage, you cannot take your eyes off of her.
Yet, at the same time, there’s that nagging moral dilemma about what Ms. Netrebko represents to the world of opera with all its traditions and mores. Ms. Netrebko is an unbelievably attractive woman, which hasn’t exactly hurt her meteoric ascension or her star status. She’s notorious for her technical deficiencies, specifically her coloratura, in the big, womanly bel canto heroines she insists on portraying and singing.
but you can’t rule out Ms. Netrebko’s singing chops entirely. She possesses a big, beautiful, warm tone that is rare in most lyric sopranos her age. The general consensus is that she excels in more lyrical roles with longer lines that demand less coloratura.
Her voice is indeed luscious, and many opera buffs will concede that minor technical glitches don’t detract from a performance as a whole. The bottom line is: she’s talented, beautiful, and she’s changing the perception of opera and making it exciting again - as it should be.
We should all be thankful that in 2011, there is an honest-to-god box-office draw at the opera, who can guarantee a sold-out run. Opera stars do exist and Ms. Netrebko is currently the only one providing enough charisma and talent to lure the public.
As the country heads in to a double-dip recession, with arts insitutuions collapsing left and right and the republican party lobbying for the destruction of the NEA, we should be happy that there is a performer who is courting the interest of the public.
It’s not likely that we will be seeing a production of “Il Trovatore” with Sarah Brightman, Charlotte Church or Josh Groban any time soon. There’s room for all kinds of singers. Opera purists need to relax…
“It’s time for it to be universally acknowledged that Ms. Netrebko is the great diva of our day. She is the one providing the most charisma and excitement without sacrificing a lush, ever-darkening, still-agile tone.” - Zachary Woolfe (The New York Observer)
Unfortunately, I was not able to catch Anna Netrebko in ‘Anna Bolena’ at the Met this year. I had initially planned to, but my school obligations left me almost no time to visit the opera this year.
I did however manage to catch the tail end of the run with Angela Meade singing the title role. It was a waste of time. Everything you’ve heard about the Met’s production ‘Bolena’ is pretty much true. David McVickar’s production is atmospheric, but unimaginative and half-baked. I’m assuming it’s Ms. Netrebko’s presence that lifts the evening beyond utter banality.
Ms. Meade’s performance mainly confirmed what we already know: she has an impressive command of her vocal technique, and it was on ample display the night I saw her. The coloratura was impregnable; the sound perfectly focused and capable of filling this big house with ease. Her pianissimo phrasing was astonishing as was her formidable execution of trills, runs, fioratura and the messa di voce. It was a master class in cautious, but impeccably precise technique.
But Anna Bolena is not about impressive singing, no matter how many trills and runs Donizetti mandated in his score, and for all her technical prowess, Ms. Meade’s performance came off as ludicrous and, ultimately, guileless. (This is a major problem when you’re portraying one of the most ruthless women in history.) She is not an actress — She scrunched her face up to connote “anger,” did a little half-smirk when she was being “friendly,” and closed her eyes and laid her arms across her chest to be “at peace.” — but she doesn’t need to be Meryl Streep if she can cultivate a real stage presence. A little character study would become her, as would a good director. She needs to stop relying on stock gestures and timid acting tricks if she is going to become an actual artist.
Which brings me back to Ms. Netrebko. I plan to see the production when it returns in the spring with Netrebko back in the lead. After watching her last night in Eric Genovese’s beautiful production, staged at the Wiener Staatsoper (now available on Blu-Ray), I can safely say that this role signals a major milestone in her career.
Ms. Netrebko is one of the most controversial figures in opera, mainly because of her exceptional beauty and her undeniable star power. Many critics view her as the Brtiney Spears of opera, with her endorsement deals and her notorious partying, she has had a hard time being taken seriously. In the past, many opera buffs have found fault with her vocal technique, particularly in the Bel Canto repertoire for which she is best known. Many opera snobs imagine coloratura in a vacuum, as a mindless series of vocal calisthenics meant to be nailed with cool accuracy. Ms. Netrebko, in the tradition of Maria Callas and Barbra Streisand, understands that coloratura should be an organic outgrowth of the musical line, a means of amplifying emotion. Her runs and trills, accurate and stylish, never exist for their own sake.
More importantly, Ms. Netrebko is in her vocal prime, and she has scored a major triumph with this role. Her voice has never been more luscious and full (her legato singing could convert any nonbeliever), and while her voice may lack the spit-fire precision of Ms. Meade’s, Ms. Netrebko turns the calculating queen into a three-dimensional character. (No small accomplishment when you’re playing an Italian opera heroine.)
You get the sense that Ms. Netrebko understands every inch of her character. I don’t have enough space to get into the specifics of what makes her performance so electrifying; but suffice it to say, Ms. Netrebko possesses one of the most important and ineffable qualities that eludes many opera singers: charisma, an undeniable relationship with her audience.
When Ms. Netrebko is on stage, you simply cannot take your eyes off her. Her performance style deftly balances operatic grandiosity with subtle human emotions. It’s a specific style of acting; very tricky to pull off, yet it is the lifeblood of opera.
Take, for instance, the final cabaletta, “coppia iniqua,” when the disgraced queen slips in and out of sanity as she awaits her execution. Ms. Netrebko, looking directly into the camera, nearly burning right through it, seems to spit out every word as an accusation against all those who conspired against her. Ms. Netrbko may not have the voice of the great Callas (and I am not suggesting for a second that she does), but she has this blazing fire inside of her that lends an element of danger to her performance. It’s the same ineffable quality that came so naturally to Callas and made her so mesmerizing.
Ms. Netrebko has said that, for her, ‘Anna Bolena’ signals the next big phase of her career, as she soon plans to move in to the weightier Verdi rep. All I can say is, bring it on! Many argue that she has no business singing the virtuosic bel canto roles she has become known for, because she doesn’t practice truly flawless bel canto singing.
Perhaps, but I doubt anyone could argue with her riveting characterization of Anna Bolena. Simply put, this is the perfect part for her at the perfect moment. After a disastrous ’Lucia’ two years ago, and a misdirected turn as Antonia in ‘Les Contes D’Hoffmann’, Ms. Netrebko has finally staked her claim as a major artist.
Further more, she is an honest-to-god opera superstar (such things still do exist) with proven box office appeal. The opera community needs to be more supportive of charismatic singers who can draw in an audience and have them eating out of the palm of their hand. Ms. Netrebko is such a singer. Superb technicians make for a safe, pleasant listening experience. It is performers like Ms. Netrebko, who set audiences ablaze, and ultimately keep opera thriving.
“Well sung and carefully considered, her final scene was muted, settled at the same low emotional temperature as most of her performance. Ms. Meade’s gifts are formidable, but this “Bolena” was frustrating, largely immaculate and largely uninvolving.” - Zachary Woolfe
The Met’s opening night pretty much snuck up on me without warning. But last night the opera house kicked off its new season with a much anticipated, first ever staging of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.”
Sadly, I must wait until the 18th to give my two cents about the show. The general consensus seems to be that Anna Netrebko blew it out of the park. (Except for The Washington Post, which deemed the whole affair an utter failure.)
So far, everyone seems to agree that David MicVicker’s production is too safe and muddled. Marco Armiliato’s conducting was deemed listless by several critics.
I’ll post a review after I see it later next month.
The Metropolitan Opera’s 2011-2012 season is looking pretty tepid from this operagoer’s perspective. One look at the Met’s website and publicity materials suggests that Peter Gelb is banking on a new production of Massanett’s “Manon,” and the house’s first ever staging of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.”
This is understandable, as both productions star Anna Netrebko - unquestionably THE current reigning soprano of the Metropolitan Opera. But “Manon” is an enervating, lightweight French opera that has a questionable place in the standard repertory. The one bright spot of this new staging is the brilliant Laurent Pelly. Pelly is one of the most inventive, resourceful directors working today and Natalie Dessay groupies (including me) will remember his sparkling ”Fille du Regiment” from three seasons ago which remains an unqualified triumph.
In addition to “Manon,” we have another new production of a silly French opera: Gounod’s “Faust” starring opera’s latest pinup: Jonas Kaufmann. Perhaps the new productions will change my opinion of these operas, but it doesn’t seem likely. I’ve seen, at least, a dozen productions of “Manon,” and I’ve yet to be convinced of the opera’s worthiness.
The prospect of finally bringing “Anna Bolena” to the Met is enticing; I’ve always said that the Met should bring Donizetti’s ”Tudor Queen” operas to the Met, but one good Donizetti opera does not a satisfying season make. Predictably, the critical darling and all around Wunderkind, Angela Meade, will be sharing the run with Anna Netrebko, which is all the more discouraging given the fact that Anna Bolena is a role that requires a great actress as well as a great singer.
Of course the biggest, most expensive production of the season will be the two final installments of Robert Lepage’s lumbering “Ring Cycle.” Judging from “Das Rheingold” and “Die Walkure,” the chances of final chapters being brilliant seem slim to none. I agree with the critics in thinking that Lepage’s vision is an empty, high-tech spectacle with a hollow core. There’s a lot of scenery, but very little humanity or heart.
The biggest fly in the ointment would have to be “The Enchanted Island”: an operatic equivalent of a jukebox musical. The Met has decided to shoehorn a “plot” around several ensembles and arias by baroque composers like Handel, Vivaldi, and Rameau. Could we please put an end to baroque opera at the Met? Leaving aside the fact that I HATE baroque opera, the Met is a HORRIBLE venue for this kind of music. If the Met insists on presenting baroque works, they ought to consider holding it in one of the smaller venues at Lincoln Center, such as the Mitzi Newhouse theater.
I must admit that I really am looking forward to Natalie Dessay in Willy Decker’s spare production of “Traviata.” I know that the role of Violetta is about ten sizes to big for Dessay’s voice, but I also know her Violetta will be something completely different that we have never seen before. Dessay’s commitment to acting and drama will lend a whole new dimension to the role of Violetta. Say what you will about her voice: you just can’t take your eyes of this woman.
I’d really love it if the Met would mount a great, neglected Donizetti work for Dessay, or put her in one of the “Tudor Queen” operas. I’d love to see her in “Roberto Deveraux” or, if that is too heavy, perhaps “Maria Stuarda?” There are also TONS of other wonderfully dramatic Bel Canto operas that have never been performed and would be perfect for Dessay.
Lesser known Strauss is also sorely lacking from the Met. Strauss composed many great operas during his lifetime that are seldom performed, and it’s high time that changed. Last year’s “Capriccio” proved a surprise highlight of the season; with a uniformly superb cast led by Renee Fleming, the Met showed that this opera is a Straussian gem that deserves a regular spot in the repertory.
“Die schweigsame Frau” is another wonderful Strauss rarity that needs to be seen. Dessay scored a triumph in the comic opera earlier in her career, and it would be wonderful to see her in it at the Met one day. It is very funny and has some sublime, prime-period Strauss music.
While we’re on the subject of star vehicles, could we please give Mariusz Kwiecien his own Bel Canto opera? The new forthcoming “Don Giovanni” is nice, but haven’t we seen enough baritones warble their way through this barn burner? And, anyway, it would be hard to top Christopher Alden’s mesmerizing staging last season at “City Opera.” It’s time to mount a new star showcase for the wonderful, charismatic baritones of today! Donizetti’s “Torquato Tasso” is a fantastic, yet neglected lyric drama that would be ideal for a baritone who can really act. (The opera comes complete with it’s very own mad scene.)
If Peter Gelb really wants to shake things up, he should look into staging forgotten works by known composers that the public adores. There comes a point where you just can’t take another stultifying evening of “Manon” or “Don Giovanni.”
VA VA VOOM! Netrebko and Garanca as troubled queens in “Anna Bolena.” I’ve been watching this production, which was seen at the Vienna State Opera in April, and I’m super excited for the upcoming ”Anna Bolena” at the Met. If David McVicar’s production is half as good as this one, we’re definitely in for a treat. Sadly, we loose Garanca for the Met run, but we still get Trebbies and that walking wet dream known as Ildar Abdrazakov. What I find particularly thrilling about this performance, is how dynamic these two are together. Seeing this live must have been incredible!
I finally saw “Don Pasquale” at the movies last week, and found Otto Schenk’s grandly realistic production to be charming and effective. It must be said that the opera does not belong to the soprano or the tenor, but rather to the baritone and bass as they have more stage time and the better numbers. Granted, when Anna Netrebko is in the cast, it’s hard to steal the show, but Mariusz Kwiecien (as Dr. Malatesta) and John Del Carlo (as Pasquale) pulled it off with aplomb.
“Don Pasquale” concerns the title character, a crotchety old Don, and his decision to take a new wife. Little does Pasquale realize that his new wife, Norina, is secretly working with his doctor, Malatesta, and his nephew, Ernesto, to teach the old buffoon a lesson. Within minutes of signing the marriage contract, Pasquale’s sweet, young wife (Sofronia who is actually Norina) quickly morphs into a belligerent, big-spending shrew, turning his life (and house) upside down. After some great music and comic hijinks, all ends happily with Ernesto and Norina united in love and Pasquale having learned a valuable lesson.
The real standout of the evening was the dashing baritone Mariusz Kwiecien. He sang with robust, burnished sound and was equal parts dashing and comic as the scheming Dr. Malatesta. Why the Met isn’t mounting other Bel Canto gems for this exciting young artist, I’ll never know. Jon Del Carlo’s performance as the aging Don Pasquale was a full-throttle, comedic tour de force. One of the greatest singing actors I’ve ever seen, Mr. Del Carlo played up the Don’s obvious doltishness while still engaging the audience’s sympathy. That he managed to toss off Donizetti’s rapid-fire patter songs with uncanny ease made the performance all the more astounding.
For once, the evening didn’t necessarily belong to Anna Netrebko, but she nevertheless made an impression. The production was mounted for her in 2006, and she’s even better in its first revival. Netrebko sang with a rich womanly sound, gleaming top notes, and melting legato, shaping Donizetti’s phrases with an impressively conversational quality. More importantly, this was some of her finest acting to date. Norina is a role Ms. Netrebko clearly relishes, and her scenes with Mariusz Kwiecien were spellbinding. If anyone wants to see what sexual chemistry looks like, they should buy a DVD of this broadcast. Norina and Malatesta’s duets had an electricity that all but threatened to stop the show. The two of them so thoroughly oozed sexuality, that Norina’s romance with Ernesto seemed almost implausible.
Matthew Polanzani, the sweet-voiced American tenor, was saddled with the unenviable task of singing Ernesto (a wind-up canary of a part). Mr. Polanzani managed to be sympathetic and pitiable as the love-struck young man, but there was no chance of him standing out in the midst of such lively company. The evening reached it’s apex during Pasquale and Malatesta’s rapid-fire duet, “Cheti, cheti immantinente,” which has more words than the whole of “Tristan und Isolde,” and requires the singers to spit them out at lightening speed. Indeed, the frenzied ovation that Kwiecien and Del Carlo received led to a thrilling encore.
But this was really Mr. Kwiecien’s show. His smoldering good looks, creamy voice, and magnetic stage presence endow him with all the makings of a bonafide Met star. If Peter Gelb knows what’s good for him, he will stage more opera’s for Mr. Kwiecien. Between Anna Netrebko and him, they are the only two stars generating the kind of charisma and excitement that is vital to opera. Now if only more Metropolitan opera performances could match the level of this season’s ”Don Pasquale”…
A recent article by Anne Midgette on the short lived careers of tenors was very thought provoking and had me thinking: why is there such a lack of excitement in opera? Of course singers need to take care of their voices, but that is hardly the issue here. I’m talking about the kind of spontaneity and artistic risk that can generate the excitement that opera so desperately needs.
A major problem I’d point to would be the horrible acting that’s still passing as acceptable on operatic stages today. There are tons of big new voices emerging (Stephanie Blythe, Angela Meade, Jonas Kaufmann), yet there doesn’t seem to be any thrilling or adventurous burgeoning talent. Where is the fiery passion of Callas, or the blood-and-guts raw energy of Placido Domingo?
Another major conundrum is: why is the remainder of exciting artists working today mostly in the lyric repertoire? Say what you will about Natalie Dessay, but she never disappears on a stage. She’s always expressed a desire to have a bigger voice, yet she took the repertoire she could sing and ran with it. This is saying something given the dramatically exasperating roles one normally associates with the lyric coloratura rep.
Then there is Anna Netrebko, the glamorous Russian soprano with a slightly darker, bigger voice, but also confined mostly to the lighter Bel Canto repertoire. Again, say what you will about her, but she seemed a more likely successor to the Callas heritage given that this was the repertoire Callas specialized in and brought back to the public’s attention. Back in 2006, during a dreary revival of “I Puritani,” Ms. Netrebko sang while lying on her back on the stage floor near the orchestra pit, her head and arms dangling over the edge during the daunting “Mad Scene.” Ms. Netrebko received an ovation which threatened to stop the entire show. “I Puritani” is notorious for being one of the most BORING operas in existence with some of the most sublime music ever composed. Ms. Netrebko’s presence in this opera, injected a much need jolt of electricity into an otherwise tepid evening.
But this is the light repertoire sung with light voices; Why aren’t there more exciting dramatic singers taking big juicy bites out of Verdi and Wagner? It feels like even the great big voices of today are playing it safe. Again, I’d have to come back to the acting factor. Voices, especially dramatic voices, take forever to cultivate and from the time a singer starts training to the time they hit the stage, there is little to no acting training. More time is spent on developing the voice and studying music theory.
Domingo, Netrebko and Dessay all look like their careers will be winding down very soon. Ms. Netrebko, having recently given birth to a son, is already talking about retirement. “I’m trying to slow down a little bit. Definitely now there will be less than it was.” She told the New York Observer in 2009, “I can tell you honestly, I’m not that passionate anymore about singing and all this stuff, you know? Once I have a family and a kid, I’m so happy to have a family, and I’m not that enthusiastic anymore.” Ms. Dessay has expressed in the past that Violetta - a dream she thought would never come to fruition - would be her last role before retirement. Next year she’s booked at the Metropolitan Opera for a run in Willy Decker’s hauntingly spare production of “La Traviata.” Rumors of Domingo’s retirement have been floating around for the past decade, but it looks like it will actually be happening very soon.
With these exciting artist leaving the scene there will be a big hole left where other exciting singers ought to be. We have tons of great big voices around these days, but a big beautiful voice isn’t enough…for me, anyway.