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Top Ten Opera StarsWho agrees with this list?


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#1 Mashinka

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:28 AM

The Telegraph often comes up with all sorts of top lists (the ballet one raised my blood pressure) but here is the opera take:

http://www.telegraph...#?frame=2506006

No Juan Diego Florez or Cecilia Bartoli, nor my personal fave - Andreas Scholl. Anyone care to dicuss?

#2 abatt

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 05:49 AM

No argument from on a lot of those Telegraph choices. Some are puzzling, though. A number of the artists listed are well past their prime in terms of singing ability, but they still may sell tons of CDs and DVDs. They forgot Dimitri Hvorostovsky (spell?). I think I would also consider adding Diana Damrau, Rene Pape, Joyce DiDonato, Elena Garanca, Joseph Calleja and P. Beczala. If we are allowing people past their singing prime on to the list, I would add Natalie Dessay and David Daniels to the list.

#3 Helene

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:26 AM

It was a list of opera "stars," not singers, and while Garanca, Bezcala, Callejo, and Damrau are wonderful singers, they aren't established stars of the order of eight of the selectees, apart from Connolly and Tomlinson, who aren't draws by themselves in North America and wouldn't be considered worldwide stars. Bartoli doesn't sing much staged opera, Scholl and Daniels are specialty singers, and Florez, who I would have thought might have made the list is as well, is close to one: it's hard to be a "star" tenor without being a Wagner and/or Puccini and/or popular Verdi (ie Duke of Mantua) tenor. It's hard to be a "star" soprano without being a dramatic soprano. It's hard to be an opera "star" doing lighter roles.

Pape is someone who should sell tickets based on his name only and is among a small number of star basses, but basses are a hard sell, star-wise, and mezzos can be, too. Hvorostovsky should have been there, but, there too, he rarely has the lead, unlike Terfel, a ROH favorite and a Wotan, Don Giovanni, etc. When a Terfel pulled out of a Ring, there was hair-pulling, angst, demands for refunds, and endless arguing over his professionalism and reasons. If Hvorostovsky has to pull out -- I can't remember the last time he did -- there would be weeping, but less angst.

#4 ballet_n00b

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:41 AM

I wonder, why does the media continue to make lists of this kind? Does it really sell newspapers/magazines?
I find them such a turnoff.
Although, at least in this case the emphasis is on "star" power, which is potentially quantifiable.
An Australian classical music magazine recently had a "Top 10 Greatest Pianists Ever" list.
I couldn't even look at it; even the title was enough to angry up the blood.

#5 Birdsall

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 09:30 AM

The list seems to be mainly about draws (people who can help fill the auditorium), and overall most of those would be draws, although as Helene says Connolly and Tomlinson might not be big draws in the U.S. I think Tomlinson would draw more than Connolly.

I would have put Nina Stemme, Juan Diego Florez, Rene Pape, and Olga Borodina on the list and take out Terfel, Alagna, Connolly, and Tomlinson off the list for various reasons, but that is my personal opinion. I think my choices are big draws and must sees....Hvorostovsky should be on the list too. Maybe take Voigt off and put him on.

#6 abatt

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:01 AM

Though I think it is time for Placido to retire, I was reminded recently of just how big a draw he still is with the general public. A few weeks ago I attended Traviata (Damrau!), and Domingo was debuting as Giorgio. (Damrau was excellent, by the way.) No applause for Damrau when she entered initially. As soon as Domingo came on stage, the audience erupted with applause (over the music). Domingo was okay, but certainly not great. His voice is not suited to the part. I expect that the audience would have been half filled without Domingo in the cast. (Can't tell ya who sang Alfredo. It was a last minute sub, who was AWFUL.)

#7 Helene

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:18 AM

I might have heard that performance of "Traviata" on Sirius, but I came in after Damrau's entrance and the announcements. (Damrau was divine.) When the baritone entered to great applause, I thought, "How nice for Thomas Hampson," forgetting he was in "Otello," not "Traviata." Listening to Domingo sing Papa Germont, I thought of the difference between a boys' choir vs. a women's choir: there was no darkness or complexity, just Chardonnay. His voice doesn't have enough flexibility either. The tenor sounded like he was drowning. I can't remember the ladt time I heard such a difficult performance. Even when Heppner's vouce started to break down, there were moments of vocal brilliance and musicianship, but, here, I couldn't find any silver lining :(

Voight's been singing Brunnhilde in London. Things might have been different if Stemme had, but London loves Voight as much as the Met does. The love affair with Alagna and Gheorghiu is beyond me: I wouldn't go out of my way to see either, but there's no doubt they keep their names out there and are very popular.

#8 abatt

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:26 AM

Alagna is now hit or miss. Sometimes he can sing well, other times the botched high notes are painfully evident. Gheorghiu is no longer invited to the Met Opera, and has not been for the past several years because of her bad behavior.

#9 Helene

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:32 AM

I don't think she'd make the list from a NY perspective, unless the writer was trying to yank Gelb's chain.

#10 mussel

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:45 PM

How about changing to the title to "Top 10 Opera Stars that Appeared or Schedule to Appear at Covent Garden."

#11 Mashinka

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 01:16 AM

How about changing to the title to "Top 10 Opera Stars that Appeared or Schedule to Appear at Covent Garden."


You have a good point there, but always interesting to read the views from the other side of the pond which don't always correspond to UK taste. I rather like Hvorostovsky but more as a recitalist, he cuts very little ice in London where most preferred Sergei Leiferkus. Bryn Terfel lost out to Hvororstovsky in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition because Hvorostovsky was some years older and more experienced but in my book Terfel has totally eclipsed him now. I love Sarah Connolly but don't think she has an international reputation, as a star of the baroque she is very much to my taste.

In a couple of years Calleja will be a recognised star and so, though not popular with people here, will Grigolo. He is still a bit erratic at the moment but on top form e.g. Manon Lescaut with Netrebko, he can be superb.

#12 Birdsall

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 04:01 AM

Calleja is an acquired taste, in my opinion, and I tend to like him, but it took me a while to get used to his vibrato. I understand people not liking him, but many go nuts over him here.

#13 abatt

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 05:08 AM

If you have never seen the DVD of the Met Live IN HD performance of Hvorostovsky and Fleming in Onegin, run out and get it. One of the few opera performances that actually brought tears to my eyes.

#14 Helene

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:14 AM

I rather like Hvorostovsky but more as a recitalist, he cuts very little ice in London where most preferred Sergei Leiferkus. Bryn Terfel lost out to Hvororstovsky in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition because Hvorostovsky was some years older and more experienced but in my book Terfel has totally eclipsed him now.

That's ironic, since it was Terfel who won the Lieder Prize at Cardiff. He's only three years younger than Hvorostovsky, but had never performed with an orchestra until Cardiff, and I think that was only during the finals.

I don't know how Terfel and Hvorostovsky can be compared except on the recital stage: their voices -- one a bass-baritone, the other a lyric baratone -- and their opera rep completely different.

#15 Mashinka

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:27 AM

I don't know how Terfel and Hvorostovsky can be compared except on the recital stage: their voices -- one a bass-baritone, the other a lyric baratone -- and their opera rep completely different.


There seems to be a place for just one baritone on the Telegraph list (unless you count Domingo) so not so much a comparison more a judgement on who deserves that place. Terfel is the more versatile of the two without a doubt.


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