Opera meanies: the August edition

Opera meanies: the August edition

Jenna Simeonov

Sometimes I wonder if there’s some natural - if counterintuitive - correlation between disciplines that take an extraordinary amount of specialised training, and a fan base that is full of “those who know better than the pros”.

We must take it with a grain of salt but take, for example, Norman Lebrecht’s commentary on the recently announced cast change for Richard Jones’ new production of La bohème at the Royal Opera House. Soprano Nadine Sierra was set to sing Musetta, and ROH just spread the word that the role will now be sung by both Romanian-British soprano Simona Mihai (Sept. 11-Oct. 3), and Canadian-Lebanese soprano Joyce El-Khoury (Sept. 23-Oct. 10). Sierra would have been awesome in the role, but so will Mihai and El-Khoury, no doubt.

“Nadine Sierra misses out on London debut”, reads Lebrecht’s headline. He goes on: “The US soprano was due to open the Covent Garden season in Richard Jones’s new production of La Bohème, but she has cried off. Her replacements are, if anything, more interesting.”

That verbage though…

“Misses out” is a choice of words that comes with some serious egocentricity; it implies that Sierra didn’t get to grace her CV with the golden words, “Covent Garden”. It doesn’t take too many clicks to discover that Sierra is doing - and sounding - just fine.

“Her replacements are, if anything, more interesting.” What unnecessary meanness. Between the headline, and nasty little digs like these, a decent paraphrasing of Lebrecht’s commentary should probably read,

“I am not a big personal fan of Sierra’s, and for some reason I take cruel delight in the fact that she won’t sing at what I deem to be the centre of the operatic universe.”

Maybe I’m just edgy because in the same week, I also read this obnoxious post on Reddit:

“Damrau sings belcanto [sic] very bad.[sic]Her Queen of night is the best , Her [sic] Konstanze is beautiful, and her Europa is AMAZING. She also sings Mozart concert aria [sic] and Meyerbeer’s grand opera aria very well. But Lucia, Elvira, Olympia,… are unexcepted [sic]. When she sings those roles, she pushes her voice, her high note is ugly, her coloratura is messy, she sings without beauty. She is a tanlented [sic] opera singer, I have no doubt about it but I don’t think she is a belcanto specialist, she has to fix something in her voice.”

Ah, the internet.

I’ll leave a little go-to cure for ire below, for you all to enjoy:

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