Saturday, January 30, 2010


One of the surprises of blogging has been that people comment entries I posted years ago.

Toward the end of my first year as a blogger I posted an entry on the organist Diane Bish that continues to draw comments. I meant no offense.

In 2008 I posted a picture of a man with goat feet that I had found on the internet, and someone has taken the time to tell me what it is a picture of. Thank you.

Now someone has commented my year old entry on giving advice to Sondra Radvanovsky.

"Curious, Dr. B. I totally agree with your analysis but come to the diametric opposite conclusion.
I know Natalie Dessay never thinks about the music. She always wanted to be a great actress and uses singing to that end. Listen to her on disc, however. Something complex like the Motzart arias. Listen to her Vorrei spiegar and compare it to other great sopranos in that genre. It doesn't hold up. Technique wins over style for me every time. We have seen Dessay and Radvanofsky live many times, and while Natalie is a delightful master of her art, Sondra sends me to the moon. She deserves to be a super star too. Singing actress... actress singer... we need them both."

Whatever I may have said, I don't suggest that people imitate Natalie Dessay. Natalie is unique in the world of opera. She has a lot of instinctive musicality which comes through in spite of herself. Probably I blunted my point by bring up Natalie at all.

Recently the San Francisco Opera presented the production of Daughter of the Regiment which has appeared on DVD and in the Met HD broadcasts with Natalie Dessay, played this time with Diana Damrau in the title role. Much fuss was made in the press about how she deliberately imitated Natalie's performance. I was fine with the idea that she imitated Natalie's acting, but she also imitated Natalie's singing. Diana Damrau is a stronger singer than Natalie Dessay and would be advised to go with her own strengths as a singer.

Sondra Radvanovsky may be the best Verdi soprano active today. One of my favorite blog entries ever is this ad hoc interview with her husband. I don't think she should imitate Natalie. That would be absurd. Sondra is a fine actress already. I still think the same thing today: a great Verdi singer needs the divine spark of musical genius. To achieve greatness she needs first to aspire.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Interestingly, Radvanovsky is coming to Denver in April to sing the title role in "Tosca." Also, I just heard she is indisposed today and will not sing in the Met's radio broadcast of "Stiffelio." That's a shame -- I was looking forward to it.