Natalie Dessay’s voice courts controversy. Some people love it. Some people hate it. I’ll leave that debate to opera students and critics because I’m going to write about why I love her. Simply put: she’s an artist. She’s an actress first and foremost and vigilantly believes that opera is theater first and foremost. You also have to consider her fach and what she’s managed to accomplish. Her voice sits at the VERY top of the soprano voice: a light-lyric coloratura…usually a tiny voice. Yet she supports her sound so well that it carries in a house…say…the size of the Met. This vocal category is also known for being very shallow in terms of acting parts. But look what she’s done? She’s turned Zerbinetta into an actual human being. For Natalie Dessay, coloratura isn’t just an ornamentation of the vocal line. It’s an expression and it always has a meaning. Just look at her fille du régiment. As she irons the shirts with gusto, she notices a spot and rubs at it vigorously while executing a cadenza. Now that’s artistry!