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My Opera Pet Peeve

As a modern day opera fan, I, like many others take advantage of the internet. I love the internet! It’s a great system, and when I want to see a piece of an opera, or search a specific singer or song, I can just plug youtube.com into my browser. It’s as easy as that! So, whenever I arrive at the page I want, I take a look at the comments. Here are some I get when I listen to a soprano piece.

(Anna Bolena Comments)

maria callas nailed it —— sorry, Anna – I love you for many reasons – but not this.

Great job, She sings it better than Sutherland, for sure, but Callas still owns it.

This is what makes me mad. We all love Maria Callas. She had an incredible and versatile voice. She was also an accomplished actress. She died before time and we wish she was singing and giving master classes to this day. With that in mind though, she is not alive. She isn’t still singing or doing master classes. She is dead. (Small tear)

Part of Callas’ charm was her ability to make a role her own. She is famous for many roles, because she succeeded in them. (Violetta, Anna Bolena, Gilda etc.) But these roled do not have her name on them! On the covers of music books and scores, it doesn’t say “Property of Maria Callas” or “Reserved for Maria Callas” or “You Can Try to Sing This But You Will Never Be as Good As Maria Callas”. Singers come and singers go, and this statement is true for all great singers.

We can’t immediately shoot down the new soprano, attempting Lucia di Lammermoor, as her first piece, in her Met premiere, because Callas sang the role while her voice was developed and mature. We can’t compare everyone to Callas. Or to Sills or Sutherland or whoever.

I would never undermine Callas, to me, she is the quintessential diva. Not to say that Sutherland or Netrebko doesn’t have fantastic qualities. Callas was a different generation. An extremely successful generation, but still. We need to move on. I bet twenty years from now, when we have our modern day Callas, people will still compare that singer to Callas. I respect Callas. I revere Callas. But let’s move on. We shouldn’t forget her. We should still cherish he recordings and memories of her live performances. Let’s not assume she was the only great singer though. Let’s not assume everything else is wrong if it’s not what Callas did. I’m sure Callas made a slip up somewhere, so let’s open our minds.

Viva La Divina e tutti gli altri per sempre!

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