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A denomination of divas

La Cieca was delighted, amused and infuriated (three of her favorite emotions) when she read yet another wonderful piece over at The Awl yesterday, a statistical analysis determining The Greatest Diva of the Past 25 Years. This treatise, by one Jay Caspian Kang, was limited in scope to ladies inhabiting the realm of popular music, so your doyenne was inspired to have a similar study done in our own field of Opera Diva. Now, in order to get the scientific ball rolling, she’s going to seek your assistance, cher public.  

First, we’ll need a list of nominees from which La Cieca’s blue-ribbon panel will select the ten divas to be quantified. You, then, are invited to nominate your favorite opera diva of this generation. For the purposes of this discussion, “of this generation” shall be defined to mean “actively performing opera at some point during the period between 1980 and 2010.” For example, Leontyne Price would be eligible, even though she is now retired, because she last performed opera in 1985.

You may nominate as many divas as you like, and La Cieca notes that a paragraph enumerating each selection’s diva qualifications might well weigh in her favor when the time comes to winnow down the list to finalists. And, as always here at parterre, YouTube can speak even louder than words.

A final reminder: we are looking for Diva here; shrinking violets need not apply!


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  • 82
    Konrad Swollenrod says:

    I’m surprised that in all of the nominations so far no one mentioned (unless I missed it) Miricioiu. Perhaps because she didn’t perform much on this side of the pond she’s been overlooked. I remember hearing her in about 2003 in Washington Concert Opera’s “Il Pirata”. I found her voice very distinctive, reminiscent of Callas at times, with technique to match. Here she is performing in one of my favs

    • 82.1
      pernille says:

      Thanks for the clip.
      Miricioiu is wonderful. Her Armida in concert performance ( with Bruce Ford among others) was thrilling. I think she never gained fame on this side of the pond because too many people are not quite sure how to pronounce her name. Lame, but true, sometimes.

  • 83
    sandytheslayer1 says:

    No one’s mentioned Sumi Jo! I can’t think of anyone else who deserves the title “Greatest Diva of the Past 25 years” more (perhaps Gheorghiu but she’s already well represented on this thread!). Sumi represents the word “diva” in every sense…

    She gets away with wearing some of the most outlandish but mostly beautiful couture dresses. In concerts especially, she always shows up in something sparkly, puffy, bright and boldly coloured, etc…She never goes for subtleness or understatedness. And of course she’s just a remarkably sexy woman, with a gorgeous tight body for a woman approaching 50 and her lovely long locks.

    But of course glamour and looking good are just superficial aspects of being a diva. In terms of singing the spiritual, slow-paced arias such as “Ave maria”, “Depuis le jour”, “O mio babbino caro”, etc… she has one of the most touching, haunting voices with perfect pianissimi.

    Looking at the coloratura repertoire, while she may not have conquered it in the same way Dessay did (both emerged in the late 80’s…Sumi mainly sang Lucia and Gilda at the Met, Dessay is still a star of the Met, I guess picking and choosing what she wishes to sing), anyone who has heard the French Coloratura Arias album with Bonynge knows that she has one of the greatest techniques of the century. Spot on staccati, quick fire coloratura and superhuman breath control. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that she is technically superior to all the other sopranos mentioned on this thread.

    However I’ll admit that she is dramatically inferior to many of the sopranos already listed…but surely not enough to take away from her diva status!

    While she might no longer be a big name in America anymore, she is beloved in Europe and Asia. In South Korea, she’s a total megastar! So there you have it, I think Sumi should definitely be your Greatest Diva of the Past 25 Years!

  • 84
    operadunce says:

    I know this is Parterre so the mere fact that Renee has actually received a few positive mentions in this contest is itself a minor miracle. But to have the clout and the nerve to have sung such diverse roles as the Marschallin, Armida, “Soul Meets Body” at Fords Theatre, and Strauss, Smetana, and Dvorak at the Last Night of the Proms, all in less than a year, is what makes her stand out from the rest. Whether you love her or hate her is almost beside the point. That is a DIVA, folks! And for over the top, there’s always this:

    • 84.1
      operadunce says:

      Let’s try this again

      • 84.1.1
        operadunce says:

        well, even typing is the v doesn’t help me imbed this so I guess that I’m a youtubedunce as well:
        Renee Fleming-Rule Britannia-Last Night of the Proms 2010