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And I do put my foot down when it comes to the repeat of the A section of a da capo aria: the repeat is an integral part of the form and is there for dramatic and musical reasons. Lopping it off to either save time or -- even worse -- to spare the audience to presumed tedium of having to hear it all over again is a crime against art.

Yes! Yes! Yes!!!! LOVE YOUR COMMENT!!!!!!!

You are so right. I have heard performances that cut the da capo, and the entire opera became boring. But I have heard uncut performances that I dreaded (because of length), but I ended up loving, because it all makes sense when the da capo section is sung with embellishments, and it can actually be very, very, very exciting to hear the way the various singers onstage embellish their music.

Let me kiss your feet for saying that! LOL

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I posited a question a few posts up thread as to whether or not Natalie Dessay had any background in dance. I don't have any details, but I did find the following in Wikipedia (this statement was repeated in the NY Times review):

"As a young woman, the petite Ms. Dessay studied to be a dancer and actress."

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Some of you may have heard the Vatican recordings by Alessandro Moreschi (the last castrato). I think someone mentioned him in a post above or in another thread. If you haven't, you might want to. Or maybe not! LOL It is a mixed bag.

But who knows if the great castrati sounded like Moreschi. We will probably never know.

Thanks, Birdsall. I think we can say fairly definitely that the great castrati didn't sound like Moreschi, who was past his prime and was never a great name. The famous names combined the physical and vocal firepower of a man with the flexibility and higher range of a woman. It must have been quite something and it's unlikely that countertenors even begin to approach it - but then, like Helene, I find them dull.

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