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No limits

The scene: a vocal audition, sometime in the past. A young, blond soprano approaches the podium. Her aria: “Un bel di.” She sings. Before she gets to the second “Chi sara” she’s rudely interrupted.


I don’t know if this ever happened to Kristine Opolais, but I could certainly picture it happening to her. She doesn’t have a traditionally beautiful voice the way Renata Tebaldi or Mirella Freni had beautiful voices. You don’t put on your headphones and think, “Wow, what I want to do is listen to Kristine Opolais.” Her voice is not large, nor does it really bloom on top, nor does it have that velvety plushness that’s so prized among opera fans. When Opolais made her entrance as Cio-Cio=San, she hit a D-flat that was secure, on pitch, but didn’t really float, and to be honest, sounded harsh. “Un bel di” had some gorgeous phrasing, but again, the voice doesn’t really bloom and so if you played it as a solo track, one might wonder what the fuss was all about.

In the end, all those vocal limitations didn’t matter in the least. Opolais was absolutely shattering in this marathon role. She’s a perfect example of how it’s not the voice you have, but what you do with it. For one, that smallish, somewhat edgy voice (sometimes reminiscent of Renata Scotto) worked to her advantage—it actually sounded like a desperate teenaged girl. She’s a very musical singer, who never tried to sing over the orchestra, but rather with it, shaping Puccini’s vocal lines so expertly that every emotional climax made the maximum impact. So much so that after “Trionfa il mio amor!” the audience brava-ed over the orchestra in a spontaneous ovation.

Physically she doesn’t resemble a typical Butterfly. She’s a tall Nicole Kidman lookalike. But theater is about illusion, and she tilted her head, bent her knees ever so slightly, and most of all, used her large eyes to convey the character’s youth and naiveté. Her best scene was “Tu, tu, piccolo iddio”—an absolutely amazing feat of both singing and acting. She broke from the stylized blocking of Anthony Minghella’s production by writhing on the floor in death throes before finally expiring. I definitely don’t think Opolais has a voice that can sing everything, but she’s a treasurable, intelligent artist and we are lucky to have her.

Otherwise the performance had the feel of a B-cast revival. I first heard James Valenti when he was with the NYCO (in Pinkerton, no less) and thought then that he had a small, unmemorable voice with a somewhat constricted top and a wooden stage presence. At the same time I heard many other City Opera talents who I thought were remarkable and I was confident that I’d soon hear about them in Vienna and London, having wonderful international careers. He wasn’t on my radar at all to “make it.” So many years later, the impression is the same—a provincial, unremarkable tenor who with his “yearbook kind of handsome” looks somehow has a decent international career.

He really can’t project his voice at all, and when he applies any pressure to the top, it’s not pretty. The livestream broadcast showed some off-pitch screaming. Tonight he tried a different approach. He kind of marked anything above the staff, touching it lightly before gladly letting either Opolais or the orchestra swallow him up. This made for a very anti-climactic love duet, as the music is all about Pinkerton’s voice soaring with the music as he becomes more and more aroused , and that was the exactly the time Valenti decided to dial down his voice and mark. But I guess in his case it’s better to be seen and not heard. Bleh.

Dwayne Croft’s baritone has shrunk and dried up over time but it’s still a pleasing sound, and he did more with the role of Sharpless than most baritones. He had good chemistry with Opolais in their Act Two dialogue. Maria Zifchak was a properly touching Suzuki and her voice also blended well with Opolais in the Flower Duet. An expected surprise was Yamadori (Jeongcheoi Cha) who only had a few lines but has a big, booming, rich voice that certainly deserves more than this compromario part.

Marco Armiliato apparently has the affection of divas, judging by the way I’ve seen almost all of them kiss and fawn over him during curtain calls. I can understand why. It’s not the most exciting conducting, but he’s certainly sensitive to their needs and careful to never overpower them.

Minghella’s production is stunning visually—so stunning, in fact, that it looks more like Oriental exotica than Italian verismo, and the stylized use of mime, dance, and puppets (for Trouble) took the grittier edges off Puccini’s story. It takes a Butterfly with a very strong personality to make the audience overlook the fans, and the sliding doors, and the raining petals, and remember that this is possibly opera’s saddest story, so painful that Act Two is hard for me to even watch. Therefore, I don’t think it’s an accident that during many moments, Opolais walked to front center stage, opened her arms, and seemingly stepped out of the production, to sing directly to the audience. This is a singer who understands the soul of Cio Cio San. Brava!

Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera


  • 1
    Billys Butt says:

    Is this super nasty, mean opening really necessary? Yes, I get the point, Opolais doesn’t have a traditionally beautiful voice, but Tebaldi is dead and Freni retired. Tebaldi wasn’t a gifted actress at all (I’m too young to have heard her live, but there’s plenty of proof of that on youtube), and neither was Freni. Scotto, Rysanek, Callas, Stratas and other legendary divas who are still worshipped today also didn’t have traditionally beautiful voices, but they were complete, exciting artists, the real deal, a thrilling, perfect combination of singing and acting. Opolais is that kind of singing actress. You need to see AND hear her to “get” her. So while Poison Ivy seems to agree with me here, I don’t think that people who only hear the voice of Opolais without experiencing her as a performer would be drawn to such extreme conclusions as suggested in Poison Ivy’s review.

    • 1.1
      Cocky Kurwenal says:

      I think Freni was a pretty impressive actress, actually.

      • 1.1.1
        armerjacquino says:

        Yes, agreed. Either of the big films- the BUTTERFLY or the NOZZE- show very clearly that she knew what she was doing where acting was concerned.

      • 1.1.2
        alejandro says:

        Freni is letter perfect in the Butterfly film she made. It’s a marvel. And the woman had a bazillion megawatts of charisma.

          Billys Butt says:

          To be more specific, I agree that Freni had lots of charisma and a strong stage presence, but if I judge her acting by the roles I saw her perform live (and not by the Ponnelle films), she relied on a somewhat standard body language, basic gestures and very few facial expressions. While that was effective, quite strong and “in character”, it was still pretty far away from the extremely refined, detailed, “psychological” acting of, say, Scotto. I find this difference in the acting style (or in acting abilities) very telling in the two available DVD versions of the MET’s old “Don Carlo” production, the first one with Scotto as Elisabetta, the second one with Freni. So not to offend anybody here: what I meant to say was that opposed to some actresses on the operatic stage that I personally find exceptionally exciting (like Scotto -- or Opolais), Freni belongs to me into a category of more “traditional” actresses who simply do not offer that spectrum of emotions, of insight into a character, of psychological motivation or detail.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Well, fair enough. She has me in pieces in things like Fedora, and this Traviata finale:

            • Often admonished says:

              Same here. What a find! great cast Visconti directing and Giulini in the pit.

            • RobNYNY says:

              This video shows her strengths and weaknesses. Beautiful voice, clear diction, accurate pitch, but constantly behind the beat and singing inexact rhythms. In some roles the rhythmic inexactitude doesn’t matter, but in Verdi the difference between a triplet and a sixteenth note is telling.

          • SilvestriWoman says:

            Freni was old-school in the best way -- she knew how to act with her voice. Granted, I only saw her once live -- Adriana at San Francisco in the early 80s. During Poveri fiori, I felt like my heart was being pulled out of my chest.

            Most especially, I present her Deh vieni non tardar as evidence -- has Susanna ever sounded so erotic?

          Regina delle fate says:

          I saw her twice as Manon Lescaut -- in Wien and Firenze -- and she is still the best ML I ever saw live both vocally and as an actress, with the young Nelly coming up the rear as a good second. I caught sadly few of her RO appearances, no Mimi (!!!!) alas, but I did see the wondrous Amelia Grimaldi when the Scala visited and the late Tatyana and Fedora. I imagine Scotto was even better histrionically in the role, but I only have the DVD to go on. Scotto is always more interesting than Freni, but what wonderful singers they both were.

    • 1.2
      Poison Ivy says:

      I used the opening as a parody of how a lot of opera experts react whenever they hear a voice that’s not conventionally beautiful. I explained how wrong the hypothetical person was though. I don’t think it’s super mean and nasty to suggest that Opolaus is one of those artists where you have to experience the whole package.

    • 1.3
      la vociaccia says:

      Hmm. I thought Stratas, in the first two decades of her career, had a gorgeous voice. But anyway, I get where Ivy is coming from. Opolais isn’t dealing in glamour; but what she has (similar to a younger Racette, IMO) is a really excellent technique that allows her to use her instrument to its maximum potential. In the Butterfly death scene, she really leans back and lets her voice pour out of her.

      Back to Stratas, she has my favorite Con onore muore:

    • 1.4
      Clita del Toro says:

      I certainly wasn’t necessary to “see” Callas to “get” her—sorry. She is certainly not in that category. Same goes for Scotto. If you need to see Opolais to “get” her, that’s her problem. This “complete package” notion is BS, IMO.

      • 1.4.1
        Cicciabella says:

        Seconded. If you need to “see” a performer for their performance to be successful, then they have failed vocally. Which is not to say that they do not deliver interesting performances on stage or film, but the real test is the sound. If the voice is not beautiful but they are good musicians and convey a character vocally, through phrasing, colouring etc., then the performance is not just ephemeral, but will remain valid over time. I’m speaking in general, not about Ms Opolais.

          Lady Abbado says:

          Also speaking in generalities, the epistemic problem with the need to “see” a performer type of argument is that it trims the conversation to include only those who got to see the performer live…but that induces a severe selection bias in the sampling process, because those who were positively inclined toward said performer are more likely to buy the tickets in the first place.

          So, I remember a while ago when I said on Parterre that I don’t find Opolais impressive based on several Youtube videos…and the quick reply was: “that’s not fair; you must see her live to judge”…so what is one supposed to do or say after that?

          Most of us here haven’t had the chance to see Callas, Tebaldi, Corelli, or del Monaco live, and yet we feel entitled to rank them high based on audio recordings & Youtube alone.

          arepo says:

          Who said Opolais had to be seen to be appreciated?

          I have never seen her — only heard her Butterfly on Sirius and I am here to say that no soprano of today’s crop even came close to the complete internal understanding of the role that came so clearly though the airwaves that it produced goosebumps. I haven’t heard someone in a long time that has the natural musicality of an Eleanor Steber.
          I don’t give a rat’s ass if her sound isn’t that of a sweet Tebaldi.
          Opolais is a find that I am so lucky to have in my lifetime. She’s the real deal.
          Of course I want to see her live and view her beautiful face and acting, but frankly, that lady exudes it already over the airwaves.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Like everything else, “you had to be there to ‘get’ so and so” is a matter of individual preference and taste and how different people react differently.
            To me, the number one “you had to be there” singer of my life was Dame Gwyneth, who I saw many many times in live performances but never had any desire to listen to her on recordings, unlike all my other favourites. It wasn’t even a question of seeing her so much as the vibrations sent through your body by being in the same hall as that voice was not comparable in any way to experiencing it through any kind of reproduction.

            • alejandro says:

              I didn’t get Netrebko until I saw her live. I found her voice too heavy and thick when I first heard it and then I saw her in Hoffmann and I don’t really remember anything about the Antonia act but the incredible sounds coming out of her amazed me.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              I didn’t get Elisabeth Schwarzkopf for the longest time. My first recordings of Mozart/Strauss were with Lisa della Casa. My mind thought that Mozart and Strauss should sound like silvery, beautiful Lisa della Casa. I thought Schwarzkopf’s voice was by contrast so guttural, husky, throaty, whatever you want to call it, and I disliked the coos and sighs and other vocal effects she put into her performances.

              I got her more when I saw that film of Rosenkavalier, the one she later bashed as an HvK vanity project. Her Marschallin is absolutely riveting. Not the sexy cougar at all, but rather bitter and even cold. Since then I’ve never been able to see another Rosenkavalier without thinking of the absolutely frigid face on ES as she lets the mirror drop at the end of Act One.

              And talk about how the stage is an illusion. In offstage pictures ES was not beautiful. She wore that short hausfrau perm and dumpy dresses. But there are videos of her recitals where she looks like a vision. Beautiful gowns, hair all of a sudden looks like Grace Kelly. Never saw her live, but I “get” what she was all about now.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I have seen Dame Gwyneth live twice, but my virtually boundless love for her stems entirely from her recordings, both studio and live, across her whole career. It’s the timbre itself that I love about her voice, and the uninhibited, audacious way she came to use it. Of course I would love to have experienced the sheer amplitude of it live in the house in her prime, but I wanted to put this comment here to register that some of us love her for the sheer beauty of the sound she made, and the scooping, and the breadth of the vibrato. Not for her apparently incredible stage presence, compelling acting, or decibels.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              A very good description of the Gwyneth effect, Grim. She could be very variable and I can remember some very ragged Brünnhilden and Turandots -- not to mention the infamous “Grannie Get Your Gun” Fanciulla <<>> -- but at her best it’s impossible to imagine what her performances were like on the basis of video or audio recordings. I must say, though, that I remember reading very negative reviews of her commercial recordings of Senta, Kundry, Salome and Ortrud -- you listen to them now and think, well, who sings those roles better or with such dramatic éclat today….? :)

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Fair enough, Cocky -- he recorded voice is certainly distinctive and it was gorgeous when she made the Barbirolli Desdemona, the Decca recital and the Medea. Most of the later recordings have rough edges but they are still exciting. I was put off buying the Salome when it was first released by very hostile reviews, but I picked it up on a Brilliant Classics reissue for €6 in the shop at La Monnaie and I was bowled over by it. It’s not Caballé, who sounds far too sweet for the role in any case, but she is entirely inside the part. It was recorded live, of course, so rough edges are part and parcel of whole. The first series of Salomes she sang at the Garden in 1974 -- my first in the theatre I think -- have not really been surpassed since then. Possibly by Behrens in 1979, but no-one else. Ewing, Malfitano and Denoke were all pretty decent Salomes but way below Blod’s class.

            • SilvestriWoman says:

              I second that about Dame Gwyneth. Nothing on record could prepare you for That Sound. Still, what really blew me away live were her pianissimi. Her filamento Orest at the beginning of the Recognition is burnt on my brain. Only Goerke has come close in pure womanliness in that scene.

              Still, for voices best appreciated live, I must add the great Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Though she’s well represented on recordings, nothing prepared me for the power in the flesh. Call it a gross assumption of baroque specialists, but I was prepared for a smaller voice. Boy, was I ever wrong… Fully unleashed, her voice nearly shook the walls.

              Lastly, as to Schwarzkopf, I never saw her perform live, but did audit a week-long master class back in the early 80s. Though she wore house-coat/muu-muu style dresses, and carried an ever-present tote, she was still stunningly beautiful. Her platinum-grey hair was styled just like in the days of yore, and she was proof that good bone structure is everything.

            • luvtennis says:


              there is a difference between “you had to be there” to get the true impact of the voice and “you had to be there” to get the true impact of the performance.

              Personally, I have no problem with the former as mikes can be unkind to certain voices. I am a bit more skeptical when it comes to the total package argument for the very basic reason that the theatrical aspect of operatic performance is so very contingent. Contingent on the production, the rest of the cast, set up of the theatre, etc.

              Callas was apparently compelling on stage in the right production and role, but she would not be remembered today if she had not been a uniquely compelling musician.

              I have listened to the Opolais performance and would generally agree that she is exceptional among present day sopranos for the rightness of her phrasing and relative security of technique. But I don’t hear anything in the timbre that would draw me back outside of a live performance.

              Opolais strikes me as a very good singer blessed with great looks and strong theatrical instincts. She does not strike me as someone who would have achieved prima donna status in a more competitive singing environment. But based on reports from those whose opinions I respect, she would seem to be very useful and sometimes compelling artist.

              But that takes us back to a point that has been discussed a great deal in the last several weeks… Is she a house packer? Ultimately, from the MET’s current perspective, that is the only question that truly matters.

              I have not seen her live.

            • PetertheModest says:

              Does that mean standards have fallen since…?

          • PetertheModest says:

            I quite like her Tatiana, and if I’m a bit tired, I can close my eyes and just listen to her.

            • Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

              Perhaps in some pictures, but the first time I saw Schwarzkopf off the stage, up close and in real life as it were, she was breathtakingly beautiful. She was wearing a very simple summer, chiffon dress, turquoise, which set off her skin, eyes and blond hair. She truly was a vision of beauty.

          • zinka says:

            She was superb last night..The voice blooms like mad on top..and even though the middle is not as resonantly gorgeous like Tebaldi or Soviero..the whole “package’ is to be loved..the hands,the gestures,etc.
            Someone said they papered the house..That is a joke..given her popularity especially since last weekend..Love the gal!!

      • 1.4.2
        Billys Butt says:

        I’m not saying it was. I made a statement about the acting of Scotto, Rysanek, Callas, Stratas together with the remark that their voices might not have been beautiful in a traditional sense (which of course is always a matter of opinion). Then I said Opolais belonged into that category. And THEN I made a statement solely about Opolais, without saying (or intending to say) that the same applied to the other divas. The next time I try to be more clear. :)

      • 1.4.3
        alejandro says:

        I disagree.

        People have their strengths. There are some singers who sound better live than in the studio. Studio Price does little for me. Live Price in the 60s is divine. Opera is a dramatic and narrative form as well as musical. It’s always teetering between theater and music and some performers really come alive in the theater.

        That said, I think if I had heard Opolais and not seen her, I still would have loved her performance. This isn’t Poplavskaya we’re talking about here.

          Poison Ivy says:

          I agree. Opolais isn’t screaming for notes she doesn’t have. I’m just saying that if you want a big, opulent, beautiful, plush voice a la Tebaldi, Freni, or today, Netrebko (and there are some opera fans who ONLY want that kind of voice), Opolais isn’t going to do it for you. Also there are maybe some roles where Opolais shouldn’t touch — Leonora in Il Trovatore, for example. But for Butterfly, great musicality and use of the voice + acting = great Cio Cio San.

          • alejandro says:

            She’s not a Verdi soprano at all. I may want to hear her do Don Carlo and that’s about it.

            I think her verismo/Slavic rep is just perfect for her. Bring on Tosca/Trittico/Manon Lescaut/Rusalka/Onegin

            • manou says:

              She is doing Manon Lescaut here at the Royal Opera House in June -- with Kaufmann.

              Her Tosca here was not completely convincing.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Her Jenufa could be killer.

            • alejandro says:

              I saw a Tosca clip on YouTube but frankly I was not pleased with the production, so I could hardly pay attention to the singing.

              I think she could be great in the right production and with more insight/experience with the role.

            • grimoaldo says:

              “She’s not a Verdi soprano at all.”

              Well, I don’t know, if I saw this in the theatre I wouldn’t want my money back --

              More of a Verdi soprano than Popsy anyway, who is scheduled to do it at the Met (again) next season.

            • alejandro says:


              You know I said that and I remembered I didn’t hate her Sempre Libera (wished it had been directed better though).

              I just don’t hear her voice or see her temperament in much Verdi . . . with the exception of Don Carlo for some reason. I’d check out her Violetta. I’m sure it could be pretty riveting.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              I love that dress! THAT’S the way to do crinolines in Traviata!

            • kashania says:

              Ivy: I think a few days ago, someone mentioned the possibility of a Jenufa with Opolais and Mattila at the Met. I’d fly down to NYC for that!!!

            • MontyNostry says:

              Ivy -- Opolais did Jenufa in Zurich in 2012. Tcherniakov directing.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Thanks for that trailer! It looks like a great production and the music seems to fit her voice like a glove.

            • Jack Jikes says:

              Jenufa and Traviata -- original, engaging and believable approach -- complete artistry.

            • alejandro says:

              Oh God, that Jenufa trailer looks incredible!

            • Regina delle fate says:

              I’ve seen her as Butterfly, Tosca, Rusalka and Tatyana. The Butterfly and Rusalka were outstanding, the Tosca and Tatyana a good deal less so. And remember FM telling us how terrible she was as Amelia Grimaldi and Vitellia at the Nationaltheater….My Munich friends all HATED the Amelia and wrote her off as a non-entity as a result. Of course she doesn’t have the vocal allure of Hausgöttin Harteros…..

      • 1.4.4
        uwsinnyc says:

        Entirely true, Callas and Scotto did not need to be seen to be appreciated. But they were very very unique one-in-a-million singers where every note, even every silence, could tell the deepest stories.

        But those two ladies not withstanding, there are lots of examples of complete package artistes who have to be seen to be appreciated. And they usually veer toward the dramatic categories: Hildegaard Behrens, Gwyneth Jones. Even take Christine Goerke’s recent Frau success. Listening to it doesn’t nearly hint at the thrill experienced in the house.

        so while I agree with your ‘complete package’ comments in the case of Callas and Scotto, but not in general.

          uwsinnyc says:

          btw this was intended as a reply to Clita’s comment several posts earlier. The placement of the replies in these threads is really odd at times.

          Cocky Kurwenal says:

          Maybe they have to be seen in order for one to be able to fully appreciate absolutely everything they have to offer, but definitely not in order to appreciate them at all. I happen to find the voices of both Behrens and Jones to be stunningly beautiful on record, and loved both artists a great deal before I ever saw either of them live. And in the case of Jones, seeing her live actually added very little to my appreciation for her -- the voice was already in decline on the first occasion, and utterly shot on the second, and there really wasn’t any compelling stage business that made up for it.

    • 1.5
      Benedetta Funghi-Trifolati says:

      I saw a lot of Tebaldi (and the others too; Callas only in concert). Be wary of Youtube evidence both sonically and dramatically. Expectations as to acting were quite different then as were accepted conventions. No one is saying Tebaldi was Duse, but she was no slouch and very impressive in certain moments. Rysanek could walk across the Met stage silently and in slow motion, or sit on a stool in a dark, poorly lit corner in the shadows at the back of the stage and you could not take your eyes off of her. They also did things which would be unthinkable or laughed at today. I saw Scotto, as Lucia in the Mad Scene, literally pull a tablecloth from a table, and trail it around the stage after her for the rest of the scene. I didn’t like it then but in hindsight I think she made it work. She also was absolutely remarkable as Marguerite in FAUST in a mini-mad scene she enacted at the death of Valentin. No one would dare (or be allowed the latitude) today. In fact when I saw Poplavskaya as Marguerite in 2011 at the Met that scene fell flat.

  • 2
    Cocky Kurwenal says:

    This take on Opolais is not consistent with my experience of her as Butterfly. I agree with the ‘not conventionally beautiful’ thing, and the fact that the voice certainly has an edge to it. However in this particular role at the Royal Opera House the voice came across as a very large instrument. Certainly I don’t think the d-flat exactly floated when I saw her do this either, but then again only very few spintos have ever been able to float such an extreme high note. However there are plenty of other places much further into the role where a float creates a very beautiful impact on As, B-flats and perhaps some Bs (don’t have the score to hand) and these she could certainly do, most impressively -- the impression she created was of an extremely technically secure singer able to deal with anything the role threw at her, equipped with the right voice for the part with no compromises (except, perhaps, the jaw-dropping beauty of timbre she’d have in a perfect world).

    • 2.1
      alejandro says:

      I did have some moments of inaudibility in Act One, but I chalked it up to where I was sitting in the house and the fact that Armiliato was cranking it up. Every singer dropped out in Act One at some point. I also found her voice very metallic and I had no idea what she was doing in Act One. After the opera was over, I realized her Butterfly was a tad unhinged at the top of the opera and she was already a little suicidal. I also think had she had a Pinkerton worthy of her artistry, Act One would have made more sense. The minute Valenti disappeared, Opolais blossomed.

      I generally don’t care too much about vocal beauty. I can appreciate it--particularly on a recording--but in opera I am much more concerned with character and how a singer uses their voice and understanding of the text to tell a story. In Verdi and Puccini I love a whole lot of balls to the wall drama, which Opolais brought in spades . . . but surprisingly so. The Un Bel Di was a revelation because she was like a samurai slicing all of her fears. And let’s not get started on the death scene. This was a Butterfly wrestling with some heavy shit before the opera started and Pinkerton just pushed her over the edge.

    • 2.2
      zinka says:

      She will no longer do Jenufa..after her baby was born..She is too emotional as she said. The lady really is DEEP…CH

      • 2.2.1
        MontyNostry says:

        I think her baby initially had health problems too (now, as I understand it, resolved, thank God -- or, rather, medicine). She took some extra time off after her pregnancy because of this. So one can really understand why Jenufa’s out of the picture for her now.

      • 2.2.2
        Regina delle fate says:

        She and Nelsons are also devout Catholics…..

      • 2.2.3
        Flora del Rio Grande says:

        Zinka: I am surprised that nobody has mentioned Dorothy Kirsten
        in discussions of Opolais. There are striking similarities, even given
        quite some differences in style over the many decades between the
        two singers: DK old school rather externalized acting, nevertheless
        intense and often effective; Opolais much the modern actress — and
        a good one. Their voices are similar in that they are both ‘efficient’
        rather than conventionally lush, and I would give Opolais points on
        her piano and pianissimo singing over DK. I love them both!
        Mme. O.’s detractors of her voice and technique are off target; well,
        more bluntly, just plain wrong. It’s a good voice, well used; I am almost
        sorry to see her ‘wasting’ it on Puccini — there are many French operas
        she should excel in and some lighter German. I agree it is not really
        for Verdi, but it is certainly for Strauss and Mozart and the recital
        stage. Why, I can even envision her singing Barber’s “Knoxville, Summer
        1915” with the Boston Orchestra, can’t you Charlie?

          Cicciabella says:

          Here’s Opolais singing Mozart. Granted, not the easiest aria to pull off, but when is Mozart easy?

  • 3
    Poison Ivy says:

    Also, I was in the rush line with the mom of a Met children’s chorus member.

    Which diva is taking her vocal troubles out on the children’s chorus, forbidding them to look at her or be within her sight lines when she sings? And cursing at them when she has a vocal boo boo? And throwing inanimate objects at them?

    • 3.1

      Frittoli? There are a lot of children in Boheme.

      • 3.1.1
        Poison Ivy says:

        Nope. It’s a diva with a very sweet public reputation, if that’s a clue.

          aulus agerius says:

          Is this a “Blind Item”? PI, you’re gonna have t’ wrassle Camilla to the ground before you take over this blog!

          armerjacquino says:

          My ‘stage mom’ klaxon is ringing… A mate of mine was once hauled before the company manager accused of ASSAULTING a child. The furious mother refused to believe her little darling was lying even after it was conclusively proved that my pal hadn’t even been at rehearsal that day.

          • Poison Ivy says:

            Except this mom had very nice things to say about just about everyone else and how kind they are/were. Rene Pape, Jonas Kaufmann, Roberto Alagna, Renee Fleming, Elina Garanca, Vittorio Grigolo, Angela Gheorghiu …

            • la vociaccia says:

              Is this a current production or a past one? Because if they were talking about Garanca at the Met (with a children’s chorus production, we’re going back a few years at least.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              The kid has been in the children’s chorus for several years and has thus been in a variety of productions.

              The incident with the tantrum-throwing diva was from this season.

          Krunoslav says:

          WOZZECK has a childrens’ chorus.

          • grimoaldo says:

            Ivy says it was last season and also says it is someone thought of as very sweet who is having “vocal troubles”.
            Hmmm, was Voigt in something with a childrens’ chorus last season?

            • armerjacquino says:

              The incident with the tantrum-throwing diva was from this season.

              Ivy says it was last season


            • Poison Ivy says:

              I said it was from THIS season …

            • grimoaldo says:

              oops, oh, sorry.
              I think Krunos’ right, it’s Voigt and Wozzeck then.

            • m. p. arazza says:

              Isn’t the ex-fat lady’s part already over when the children sing?

              Was it Musetta? Or… the Met website tells us that the childen’s chorus appears (non-singing) in Rusalka and Chenier.

            • rapt says:

              What about Racette in Chenier? She (or Leonora) has already been “esanime” in Trovatore.

    • 3.2
      armerjacquino says:

      I’m glad she’s only throwing inanimate objects, rather than, say, cats.

      • 3.2.1
        manou says:

        A hand grenade is an inanimate object.

      • 3.2.2
        Flora del Rio Grande says:

        A certain Alabama soprano who sings Musetta?
        I do detect some vocal stress there now and then, and
        flat singing in exposed Mozart of all places.

    • 3.3
      alejandro says:

      I don’t know Cenerentola, but please I hope there’s no children’s chorus in it. I would hate to think Joyce would do such a thing.

    • 3.4
      pavel says:

      Werther has an important children’s chorus…

      • 3.4.1
        Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

        Oropesa? Thus she’s not asked back again.

          armerjacquino says:

          Oropesa doesn’t have ‘vocal troubles’ though, does she?

          • A. Poggia Turra says:

            Only with (what she says with) her speaking voice, not with her singing voice…

            • grimoaldo says:

              What do you mean apt? Does LO say objectionable things? and Guestoria Unpopularenka says “thus she’s not asked back again” but I think she was asked back again for more ina etta and Sophie type parts and turned them down to sing leading roles elsewhere, she wants to leave the soubrette stuff behind now.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              I’ll put this rumor to rest right now. It’s not Lisette Oropesa.

            • peter says:

              I like Oropesa very much but what roles will she move on to from the “ina” and “etta” roles? She is a soubrette after all and there’s nothing wrong with that but I’m not sure I hear a lyric or full lyric there.

            • grimoaldo says:

              Next season LO is singing Gilda, Susanna, Constanze “Seraglio” and Marie in Daughter of the Regiment among other leading roles at various locations in the US and Europe, but not the Met.
              I’ve said it before, but when I went to Washington Concert Opera “I Masnadieri” as I walked through the door I thought to myself, well, there is a little soubrette in the Jenny Lind part, she won’t do the role justice, maybe she will chirp prettily in parts of it, but she wasn’t a bit like a soubrette, far far from it.

            • peter says:

              Thanks Grim. It will be interesting to follow her career. The verdict is still out, for me at least, that she will shine in these heavier roles as she does in the soubrette roles.

            • alejandro says:

              I’d love to hear Oropesa do Lucia.

            • kashania says:

              Oropesa doesn’t quite sound like Konstanze in that clip. The voice doesn’t have enough bite. But then again, it’s a difficult role to cast ideally. It needs Gruberova or Damrau. Still, Oropesa sings the aria very well.

            • FomalHaut says:

              Heard Oropesa sing Lucia in Arizona. She was fabulous. I would think out of all the Sopranos the MET is casting, Peretyatko would be shuttled into the ‘Soubrette’ roles (albeit with a more impressive middle voice than Oropesa); her voice reminds of Battle’s.

            • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

              Grim -- there was a blind item about her recently that she’s insufferable backstage and thus unwelcome.

            • grimoaldo says:

              Yes Guest, we all decided it was about Lisette but we cannot be absolutely sure, and that blind item said “Which soprano, whose lovely voice and charming stage presence should make her worth her weight in gold, is not being asked back to an opera company where she’s had great success? Is it because she’s developed a reputation for being difficult?”
              “Difficult” doesn’t have to mean “insufferable neurotic bitch who throws diva tantrums and is horrible to her colleagues”,from her schedule, what she said on the Opera News online interview (“Don’t call me a soubrette. Ever again”) and what was said on that thread by people who seemed to know her personally, my interpretation of “difficult” is that the Met wanted her to continue to appear in the sort of soubrette supporting parts she has done with them this season, but she now only wants to perform leading roles, and I say she’s right, good for her.

            • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

              That’s Guestoria or Guessie to you, hello and good evening!
              Well, your interpretation is just as much plausible as what most others assumed.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Grim -- we can’t be absolutely sure, but La Cieca’s “worth her weight in gold” -- Oro pesa (gold weighs) -- is a pretty strong hint….

    • 3.5
      kashania says:

      Voigt might make sense because even if she is nice person as her public persona indicates, she was probably not the happiest soprano during that rehearsal time. She has no more contracts at the Met and having vocal troubles. Imagine sounding vocally compromised for all to hear at the company where you have been a major star for years? That’s tough and would bring out the worst in anyone.

  • 4
    aulus agerius says:

    I think Marco Armiliato’s pretty cute. I expect I’d kiss and fawn over him given the chance.

  • 5
    Milady DeWinter says:

    Another terrific review PI. I “got” the overstatement at the beginning. We all knbow the tales of famous singers being told to give it up and become a stenographer What I DO admire about Opolais is her hard work: last night’s Butterfly was vocally even better than the previous broadcast. She seemed to be trying for more piano effects, a cleaner, leaner line, and attacked the D-flat differently -- just popped it out rather than the tied note up. It helped a little. Callas coaching a singer at Juilliard said that the singer has to constantly battle the urge to sing louder on the top note -- rather, prepare the emission on the note before the high note, even out the volume, and you’ve got no bulges in the line. That was a Callas trademark despite her “ugly” (not to me!) voice and why she was supreme in legato, fioriture, and phrasing. Same thing with scales and fioriture -- the instinctive thing to do is get louder as you go ascend -- but that’s amateur night. But damned hard NOT to do. Such simple things. Opolais is wise to try and lighten the tone and take some of the freight out of the mid-voice. So weird that Rondine was so unpleasant yet Butterfly fits her like the proverbial glove. What a fully-rounded portrait she continues to paint.
    Valente -- ouch. Now why haven’t they called in his understudy? For the first few performances I was trying to cut him some slack. After all, nobody WANTS to get up there and sing with flop sweat, and every singer who makes it to the stage of the Met is in a more or less elite club. I get it. It takes guts. But he didn’t/has not improved much over the run -- except as you pointed out, last night he was sort of feinting at the top and that helped a little. Opolais really deserved better (paging Mr. Hymel!) and did indeed bloom when lefton her own, or at least with the more appealing Zifchack and Croft.

    • 5.1
      Jamie01 says:

      The good(?) news may be that on Saturday she gets a different Pinkerton, Adam Diegel.

    • 5.2
      Poison Ivy says:

      His understudy is singing the last performance so … I also notice he’s not singing much in the future. But I agree, he’s kind of a tenor who might have been better singing regionally instead of trying for the international houses.

    • 5.3
      alejandro says:

      I never get the Callas having an ugly voice thing either. Yeah, she could let out a shrieky high note that could strip paint, but I could lose myself in her voice. Her “Je perdue mon Eurydice” or “Mon couer s’ouvre à ta voix” are delish.

      • 5.3.1
        kashania says:

        Agreed. Callas’s vocal colour in the mid-register was brilliant and compelling, IMO. And putting aside the slow vibrato on top, there was a real purity and roundness of tone to her high notes. And I loved her chest voice too.

          Poison Ivy says:

          Well yes, I agree that Callas had a rich vocal coloring that allowed her to sing a variety of roles. But I’d also argue that Callas was an example of someone who used her voice in a beautiful way and that was what made her special.

          I mean, listen to this. That cadenza at the end. This is untouchable.

          • kashania says:

            Agreed. Callas’ singing was more beautiful than the voice itself.

            • Lady Abbado says:

              Well, in her very early days, even the voice itself was truly remarkable. Hear the phenomenal low notes in Suicido, 1952, for example:

            • kashania says:

              Those low notes are frightening! One of my favourite Callas recordings is Santuzza which she recorded pre-weight loss and in which the voice is just so rounded and warm. The climax of the “Tu qui Santuzza” duet is outta this world.

  • 6
    zinka says:

    Has the Met been selling out lately? All I can say is that last night’s Mme.Butterfly was a total sellout, due in my view to the recent triumphs of Kristine Opolais, who has brightened up our lives so much. The lady is a “stage animal,” who is able to project all the emotions of Cio-Cio San, from joy to tears, with such a telling effect,you cannot help but revel in this special talent. I notes especially last night the way she uses her hands, sometimes in sadness, and sometimes in triumph (“Trionfi il amore…”)
    and of course that voice is so thrilling, especially in the upper register.
    You know I have seen all the wonderful Butterflies of the last 50 plus years, so I feel that I have some perspective in speaking of Mme.Opolais’ singing and interpretation. We here in New York can now look forward to some future productions of Tosca,Rusalka, and Manon Lescaut starring our new “friend.”
    Again sadly, Mr.Valenti showed that he has lost that wonderful tone he projected when I saw him in City Opera Boheme. He is musical, good on stage, and there are some nice moments in the middle voice that have warmth, but he has no clue as to how to project over the passaggio, and the B Flats in act one are absolutely inadqeuate, and in act three you do not hear them at all. I hope he can regain his former fine tone, since he has been a fine artist.
    I love this production so much, and after a few viewings, I got to like the puppet, and it made me think of the recent news that in Europe they are doing “My Fair Lady’ with a ROBOT programmed as Henry Higgins (no joke.) Therefore, new techniques might someday allow robots and/or puppets to replace….(no names mentioned.)
    One additional note: Had I been sitting next to the jerk who screamed “bravo” just as the act one curtain was falling, I would probably have shed my lovable-ness and belt him in the mouth!!
    I have now decided to live to 100 so I can enjoy the future career of Mme.Opolais, a great artist and lovable personality.

    P.S. Did i read someone said her vpice was edgy and it did not bloom on top??Maybe i need a hearing aid!!!

    • 6.1
      armerjacquino says:

      the recent news that in Europe they are doing “My Fair Lady’ with a ROBOT programmed as Henry Higgins (no joke.)

      Do WHAT now?

    • 6.2
      bluecabochon says:

      The house was papered again last night and there were empty pockets here and there despite this. It’s too bad about Valenti, who seems to have it all except secure top notes, but the Maestro drowned them all out anyway. I was impressed with Yamadori, who sounded and looked magnificent. My fave Dwayne Croft seemed a little on the diminished side, but perhaps he is still under the weather. Sharpless needs to have a hat at all times, by the way -- it was the fashion. It has always been hard for me to tell from the Japanese side of things which decade we are in, and the century. Supporting roles were fine but Goro at times was inaudible.

      Ms. Opolais is the most angular Cio Cio San I have ever seen -- all elbows and angles with little poise, and I didn’t connect with her emotionally during the first act at all. She was hunched over the entire time, which didn’t read as shyness. I found her a compelling character by the end though not with much warmth, and suggest that she embrace her height in this role and not waste energy trying to conceal it. Vocally I found her uneven, but I expected that and it didn’t take anything away from what she does well. Striking and vocally mostly very fine, and way more interesting than Ms. Echalaz was last fall.

      Did anyone hear the person who started to applaud early was it Act 1 or 2? He/she was shushed quite loudly.

      • 6.2.1
        PetertheModest says:

        She tries to disguise her real height (she is tall) by hunching over for Butterfly, otherwise she might appear too tall for the role.

      • 6.2.2
        zinka says:

        Chacun a son goooogooo

      • 6.2.3
        zinka says:

        They do not need ever to paper a house for the likes of Opolais,who was great and receivea huge ovation.
        I also love the way she uses her body and especially the hands..a class act all the way…

          bluecabochon says:

          My ticket was papered. They paper when Anna sings, too…it depends on how the house is selling, not who is singing. They papered Faust with Jonas & Co the first year it appeared -- that’s how I went.

          • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

            What does that mean? Discounted tix? And how does one get them?

            • bluecabochon says:

              Met staff are often given free tickets and can either use them themselves or give them to friends. Some of these tickets find their way to Craigslist and are sold. There is also a heavily discounted ticket offer for students (and staff) for some performances that Camille has written about. These tickets can appear at the last minute and can be withdrawn at any time if public demand surges and they can sell these seats for full price. It has been a rule in the past that new productions were exempt from the discount list, only repertory operas, but that isn’t always the case now if a new production isn’t selling well. You do have to know someone who works there to benefit.

          • zinka says:

            I understand..maybe it is not that anyone is bad and they need to sell ticketrs….I guess it is not necessarrily a reflection on the value of a singer..My best Charlie

  • 7
    Poison Ivy says:

    I found a recording of the Love Duet between Opolais and Valenti from their ROH run. What he does in this recording is what he did last night — pull back from attacking the climaxes.

    • 7.1
      mercadante says:

      Actually, in the recording he sounds very musical with lovely phrasing and rubato. He certainly is more graceful at the end than she. Opolais is a bit behind getting to her C. I can understand if those in the house heard it differently. Some voices just don’t seem to get past the footlights all the time. Projecting, not yelling, is becoming a lost technique.

    • 7.2
      zinka says:

      I would say his singing was the worst since Ticho Parley and Pekka shit…

      • 7.2.1
        Regina delle fate says:

        Ticho Parly and Pekka Nuotio sang Pinkerton at the Met?

          Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin says:

          No, Regina: Nuotio and Parley sang only Wagner roles at the Met, but let’s not forget their contemporary Ion Buzea, who did sing Pinkerton (and several other roles) in his 15-performance Met career. I think that’s what Zinka was aiming at.

          • zinka says:

            Yes..they were among the worst..along with Mario Ortica and Primo Giulio Gari..we had thrnm…but today mostly we are lucky..Valenti was an aberration..we have wonderful tenors today…

    • 7.3
      Rudolf says:

      Goodness, and people paid good money to experience THIS in the theatre? In the higher regions Ms. Opolais’ voice becomes strident and unpleasant. In the lower parts her voice sounds ordinary and unappealing. Mr. Valenti to me is the most unremarkable Pinkerton I have heard so far. Truly nothing to write home about. I am baffled by the success these two singers seem to enjoy.

    • 7.4
      zinka says:

      Hi..I just do not understand how certain singers get out there.Look at the guy Tanovitski as Gremin..hoired for King Rene next season in Yolantha. Are the agents so poweful? Is it that they do not re-hear people….Valenti was once very good..but can’t the Met HEAR he has no idea as to how to make any sound above the passaggio….Well,in my era,we did have some pretty bad ones..i guess it goes with the territory.
      We need to rung the Met!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!CH

  • 8
    DeepSouthSenior says:

    I agree with the NOT “traditionally beautiful voice” assessment. I have no interest in purchasing a solo or opera recording with Opolais. On the basis of seeing her Mimi in the short-notice Live in HD, though, I’m definitely a fan! She does seem to me to be the “complete package” in live performance. If she can do that well under those circumstances (we all know the story by now), she should be riveting at her best.

    • 8.1
      zinka says:

      Many “generic’ sngers can be fine in their way.I could not recognize Opolais Serafin,Westbtoek,etc..but in a second we hear Olivero,Kabaiwanska,Gencer, Moedl..and it seems their “flaws” allow us to recognize them instantly…Very interesting element.i

  • 9
    orestes says:

    Ivy, great review! I listened on Sirius last night and can say that Opolais was “compelling”, to quote another critic, without any visuals. Her voice certainly has a steely edge -- nothing soft-grained about it. This may have been exaggerated by the harshness of Sirius. But, what a range of vocal colors, subtly shaded and modulated by her fine control of dynamics! I was stunned by Act II -- must have been emotionally overwhelming in the house. O.

    • 9.1
      Poison Ivy says:

      O! How great to see you posting again!!! It was really emotionally overwhelming in the house. Especially the way she played off Sharpless in the dialogue.

      • 9.1.1
        uwsinnyc says:

        Ivy did anyone solve your riddle about the stagemom?
        I have no idea.

        Fantastic review- as always. I’m going to try and catch Saturday’s performance.

          Poison Ivy says:

          SOMEONE has it right ;)

          • Poison Ivy says:

            p.s. There was a clue in the original “blind item”.

            • Sheldon says:

              Are you referring to “throwing inanimate objects”?

            • Grane says:

              Jennifer Rowley? I know nothing about her, but as someone has already mentioned, there’s a children’s chorus in Boheme, and Musetta throws plates, doesn’t she?

            • m. p. arazza says:

              Also “boo boos” = Musetta claims to hurt her foot.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              Guys, cross Boheme off the list. All three casts were apparently happy productions and everyone had fun interacting with the kids. Anyone in Boheme this year is NOT the tantrum throwing diva.

            • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

              Are you going to tell us eventually? Because this can go on perpetually.

            • Poison Ivy says:

              I’ll tell people who Facebook or email me privately. Isn’t the point of a blind item to keep on guessing?

          • Guestoria Unpopularenka says:

            Racette. But does she have a reputation of being sweet?

            • grimoaldo says:

              “Jennifer Rowley? I know nothing about her”
              Who does? Somebody decided she wasn’t up to the part in that awful, awful ROH “Robert le Diable” so she vanished and they brought in Ciofi instead, surely that is all even hard core opera fiends like us know about her.
              “Racette. But does she have a reputation of being sweet?”
              No. Has a reputation of being out of the mainstream in her personal life, I only know that from posts here.
              It’s gotta be Voigt.

            • armerjacquino says:

              Some friends of my mum’s live in NYC and Rowley used to look after their kids. Utterly lovely woman apparently.

            • Sheldon says:

              I think Guestoria is right.

            • tiger1dk says:

              Grimoaldo, Racette being “out of the mainstream in her personal life” -- is that a reference to her being a lesbian? And what do you mean that she “has a reputation for”… ? She is totally open about her sexuality.

              I am gay but, funnily enough, I cannot imagine saying about myself (or any of my gay friends) that I am “out of the mainstream in my personal life”.

            • armerjacquino says:

              Hadn’t spotted that, tiger, but now I see it, you’re right. It’s like ‘lesbian != sweet’. I really hope grim meant something else.

            • Regina delle fate says:

              Didn’t she just have a success at the Met as Musetta, Grim? THat’s what we were told by Lebrecht on his blog over here, anyway.

          • uwsinnyc says:

            Isn’t the point of a blind item to keep on guessing?

            For a while, or until someone gets it right….

            I would have to go with Debbie based on all the comments, but it doesn’t sound like something she would do.

  • 10
    Arianna a Nasso says:

    Opolais is only 34 years old if Wiki is to be believed. At the performances of hers I’ve attended, the voice was fluttery and lacked focus in the middle, and the high notes were blunt and lacking spin. At that age, Scotto’s high notes might have been a little hard, but they were ringing, and her middle was focused, even, and generally beautiful. Comparing Opolais to Scotto is like saying Scotto sang with the same tonal refulgence of Tebaldi in her prime.

    If you enjoy Opolais’ singing, great -- that’s your prerogative. Just don’t try to convince us it’s on the same level as that of “flawed” singers like Scotto, Callas, Rysanek, and Stratas, especially when they were 34.

    • 10.1
      Poison Ivy says:

      Well if you want to get technical about it Callas’s last “great” year was when she was 34 --1957/58. Afterwards she went through a series of vocal and personal problems and never recovered. Rysanek was a very polarizing singer in the 1960s especially when she was singing Verdi. She would have been in her thirties then.

      No one is saying she’s on the level of Scotto, I’m making a comparison about Opolais and Scotto because Scotto was often criticized for not having a conventionally beautiful voice.

      But it’s so much easier to canonize retired singers than remember that when they sang they were controversial and not everyone loved them.

    • 10.2
      zinka says:

      Hi..What I liked was the Opolais intent..the gestures..involvement..blooming top ..She told me Scotto has given her some advice..although I am not sure what she said…
      Yesm Scotto,with all her so riveting..i think “flawed’ singers compensate for what they lack in intrinsic beauty of tone ( a la Tebaldi)amd make MORE of an impression because they can do so much more emotionally.
      I still say the ONLY Stimm/Kunst successful diva..gorgeous voice and remarkable emotion is Soviero.

      • 10.2.1
        armerjacquino says:

        I’d say that Mattila at her best served up both Stimm and Kunst.

          uwsinnyc says:

          There’s kunstdiva, stimmdiva, and the occasional ‘kunst und stim’

          But how about an extra category ‘kunst through stim’ that is even rarer and applies to singers like Callas and Scotto, as that is what made them so exceptional?

          SilvestriWoman says:

          Totally agree about Mattila… I first heard her Eva in the early 90s. Nearly two decades later, when I saw her Katya Kabanova, she still looked and sounded as remarkably youthful. Her Arabella must stand as one of the finest.

          Moreover, I can’t think of a better living example of Stimm/Kunst than Antonacci.

          • Krunoslav says:

            To me, Antonacci has Kunst and can sing beautifully as to line and feeling, but does not qualify as having a “gorgeous voice”.

            I’d add Lucia Popp to the list of those who provided both.

          zinka says:

          Isurely agree about Mattila at her best..,I always said Diana Soviero was BOTH..Gorgeous quality and fabulous emotion……Not given enough recognition..but look,Diana,Leyla,Magda,Raina…totsl of how many commercial recordings total????Practically NONE.
          Thank God for those guess who???

      • 10.2.2
        SilvestriWoman says:

        Lastly, in all my 40+ years of opera-going, no one has moved me more profoundly than Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

        Arguably, her definitive performance:

        From the one time I saw her live -- her Ravinia recital, two days short of 11 months before her untimely death. In the moment, it seemed as if even the breeze stopped to listen to her sing. I have not been the same since. If that doesn’t meet the definition of Stimm/Kunst, I don’t know what does.

      • 10.2.3
        Krunoslav says:

        “I still say the ONLY Stimm/Kunst successful diva..gorgeous voice and remarkable emotion is Soviero.”

        Certainly agree in re Soviero but not in re “only”. Among others whom I heard live besides her: Christa Ludwig? Tatiana Troyanos? Frederica von Stade? LHL? JDD?

        Others I know from recordings and films: Sena Jurinac? Julia Varady? The young (1950s) Galina Vishnevskaya? ( I heard her in 1982, still full of Kunst.)

  • 11

    Late to comment here, but once again great review Ivy. I heard two performances -- Apr 9th (in the house) and Apr 15th (Sirius). Let me first state that although I enjoyed both, hearing and seeing it live was monumental both for KO’s vocal and dramatic performances, but there were major differences in the vocal performance between the two:

    -- The sound of KO’s voice – thrilling live – was not as marked on the broadcast. A recording that sounded like what I heard live could stand on its own, even apart from her dramatic performance.
    -- Her vocal performance was more nuanced on the 15th – as Milady has said, some beautifully floated pianos. On the 9th she didn’t sing anything softer than mezzoforte.
    -- On the 9th she broke the phrase, took a breath, and then attacked a high note 3 times: the Dflat in the entrance, the C at the end of Act I, and the Bflat on vo’ troncar at the end of Che tua madre, each time singing the high note on “ah”. Same on the 15th, except she sang through to the Bflat. It may just be my limited experience, but I have never heard these particular puntature before, and to me they were a detraction from her performance.