My friend DE chooses his opera singers very carefully. On his wall are pictures of Cecilia Bartoli and Anna Netrebko, so you can imagine what some of his criteria might be. In his pantheon is Waltraud Meier who has just appeared on my TV screen in the role of Isolda, singing the final aria. Since we are accustomed to Jane Eaglen, this is quite a shock. Waltraud Meier is a classic beauty.
She appears to be actually singing in this film, which focuses directly on her face the entire time. Of course, Rise Stevens was actually singing in her films, too, but pitched everything an octave down to eliminate any trace of tension in the face and neck. Perhaps Waltraud Meier sings to her mirror and makes sure her face never takes on any unpleasant expression. She appears to be a very fine singer as well. Every note both sounds and looks gorgeous.
We put up with a lot for good Wagner, but the effect is more complete when our eyes believe it too. I will have to look into this.