Tuesday, February 13, 2007

When divas go down.

Tonight Sharon and I attended an encore broadcast performance of the Met's I Puritani with the new darling of the opera world, Anna Netrebko, in the role of Elvira. She is gorgeous, with a charming sense of humor and a voice that is both exquisite and expressive, even when she's singing upside down with her head in the orchestra pit.

Yep -- God loves Anna Netrebko better than He loves you and me and Maria Callas, combined. I kept saying to myself, "She probably has some dark secret. Maybe a superfluous third nipple." But it didn't work. She just glowed with loveliness and grace and that glow threw my pettiness up on the wall in twisted shadows.

After beating back my envy somewhat I was able to surrender to her moving performance, but it was still fun to watch some of her sister divas act out my inner cattiness. During intermissions they cut to Renée Fleming interviewing Anna in her dressing room backstage. Renée was doing her best to grit her teeth and let the new girl shine, but she kept pulling the mike away from Anna mid-sentence so she could make another sage observation about the Art of Opera. I've got one for you, Renée: divas should never interview divas.

They also interviewed the 77-year-old Beverly Sills during intermissions, asking for her reactions to each act:

"Ms. Sills, what do you think of this production?"

"Oh, it's always a bit ridiculous when they mix costumes and styles from different eras, but who am I to complain? Every production is different."

"Ms. Sills, wasn't Anna's mad scene remarkable? Such a difficult bel canto passage!"

"Well, when I sang the lead in Lucia di Lammermoor, now that was a real mad scene. It wasn't like a teenager disappointed in love -- it was profound madness. As for those bel canto lines, they are difficult, but they are nothing to Wagner. The lines are much more natural for the human voice. And you don't have to sing over such a big orchestra with bel canto."

"But isn't it true that the thinner orchestration leaves no room for mistakes? Anna can't hide behind the orchestra in this bel canto style like you sometimes can in Wagner."

"Pshaw. An opera singer can't hide behind a large orchestra. Wagner is much more difficult to sing, without question."

Ladies, this opera house ain't big enough for the three of us: showdown in the greenroom at high noon. Sharpen your Viking horns, and may the best diva win.


Sharon said...

Excellent summary of the interviews. So true. I also liked it when Ms. Fleming told the prop guy she was interviewing that she was tired of listening to him.

Marie said...

How did I forget that one? Priceless. Poor Renee was trying so hard to play second banana. It's like listening to washed-up figure skaters do Olympics commentary -- there's always a faint taste of bitterness...

I see next month is Barber of Seville with Juan Diego. Tempting.

Sharon said...

Juan Diego is very nice to look at and listen to.

Sarah said...

I wish I could have been there! I love love love opera and pretend to be Sarah Brightman all the time in my car. My kid tells me to stop singing every time though.

In other news - YOU WON $20! I loved your entry in my caption contest. Head over to my site for some ego-tickling. Let me know where I can send the $20 as well :)