Reviewing the Met's Romeo, NYT's Anne Midgette poses the question:
Which is, for opera lovers, the prime question. (It certainly addresses my lukewarm response to Natalie Dessay.) I uttered a "yes" to that question last week, and eager to relive those prodigal moments, I listened to the Sirius broadcast of the Romeo last night. I was quickly frustrated though, appalled by how unradiogenic Netrebko's sound is. This morning, to confirm, I accessed an in-house recording of her performance last week (don't ask me about my source, I have complete deniability). The tape confirms the same acrid sound of her Juliette: lazy in the pianos, just slightly under the pitch in fortes, sagging like an old mattress. But she's anything but an old mattress-- I mean, she's not that old. Thus, unlike the diva Renee Fleming, whose rich sound transmits perfectly from mic to speakers but whose boobs aren't that perky, Anna Netrebko, if behaving well, is probably better experienced live, in the (barest) flesh. The radio just can't communicate the sheer bigness of her voice--what Anne Midgette calls "a luscious sound that you wanted to bathe in forever"--and her tits. Moreover, you'll detect none of the brilliance of the jewels that attend her high fortes, and none of the bigness of her tits (did I mention her tits?), all of which made Sieglinde watery in some parts of her body last week. I know the radio-vs-live thing (a.k.a. cd-vs-live, etc.) is a tired subject, probably written about from the first Met broadcasts a century ago, but I think still worth repeating today, as the opera experience migrates further and further away from the four walls of the opera house. And the issue still fascinates me, so deal with it.The ultimate measure for a singer should be, Is this a sound you want to listen to? The answer here was yes.
(I know, you're saying WTF, Sieglinde's lost it completely, what's she doing talking up Anna. Sieglinde's mumbling the exact same thing to herself, rest assured.)
Meanwhile, 6:37pm first pitch: chicken wings, here I come.