Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I am banished to the hinterlands and am listening to the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts more than ever. I caught Handel’s Rodelinda driving back from Ohio, switching from station to station on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Cecilia Bartoli effect has not spread to the Metropolitan Opera where big voices still abound. On the radio it still sounds the very traditional way it always did.

The stars of Rodelinda were Renée Fleming and David Daniels, a falsettist. Also known as a countertenor. Countertenors always wear beards so you will know they’re real men, and David Daniels is no exception. Falsetto singing is a funny sound I’ve never had much taste for, but now that Marilyn Horne is no longer around to perform the heroes in opera seria someone has to pick up the slack. Daniels has a far more robust tone than falsettists generally do. I think the idea is that if you push too firmly, it turns into tenor, and this usually keeps them light and whiny. He’s fun. I may allow myself to be persuaded.

I have been hearing Renée Fleming for quite a while now. She just gets better and better. She is moving deeper and deeper into the essence.

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