Hysterical Divas

maria callas in full song
You have to hand it to Kiri Te Kanawa. She does a fine self parody of the operatic diva. Hardly the tigress that Maria Callas was, but getting there. Her criticism of Hayley Westernra is laughable to those of us who have little regard for the horrible warbling of operatic sopranos of any tinge.

Te Kanawa's beef is that Westernra and other crossover singers (popera) are rubbish. Sounds like the old girl is feeling the pinch as the times change. I worked to market opera with the Auckland Opera company in the mid nineties. The question for opera then was how to make the art form relevant to a modern audience. Perhaps one the defining moments for opera was when Pavarotti sang at the world cup of soccer. Instantly Nessum Dorma entered the consciousness of a vast global audience. The arrival of singers like Westernra and Church and groups like Il Divo might be one of the few ways that opera at its purest and most awful form can even hope to survive. Audiences are aging (and therefore dying) and restaging standard repertoire and more obscure alternatives only has so much scope before it becomes absurd (How would you like your Janaceck madam?).

Once again Kiri comes out looking like a self important harridan who is so used to being fawned over that she has begun to believe that her deification is complete. Remember when she refused to take the stage with John Farnham?

I would rather eat my own foot (shoe on) than listen to any of the performers listed above. Nothing wrong with any of them (…OK, maybe Johnny Farnham might be a bit suspect), but, then, there's no accounting for taste. Or its absence.


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