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Subject: Re: VASTLY DIFFERENT CRITICAL OPINIONS
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 31 Jan 2017 14:25:08 +0000
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Sterling: 
Your point is well taken. I don't understand it either. There are some opera people who feel that if one doesn't appreciate an artist they hold up as sacred, it's a personal insult to them. There has to be a psychological explanation for it, but I can't waste the time looking for it. Opera is a passionate art form and it seems to invite passionate opinions, which kind of makes it fun until someone crosses the line and becomes rude and abusive. One important lesson: You never build an artist UP by knocking another artist DOWN. 
We've all seen critics do that (THEY frequently differ in THEIR opinions!). People should listen and enjoy what they respond to. Period. 


----- Original Message -----

From: [log in to unmask] 
To: "Les Mitnick" <[log in to unmask]>, "OPERA-L" <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 12:45:28 AM 
Subject: RE: VASTLY DIFFERENT CRITICAL OPINIONS 

I worked at the Tower classical annex in San Francisco until it expired. I told many of my clients: "Look. If there are 3,000 people in the audience, 3,000 different performances are happening simultaneously. Plus the orchestra. And the singers. Everybody hears it differently according to their own perspective and experience." 

I have never understood why some people get so angry when we do not worship the same gods they do... 

Sterling 





-------- Original Message -------- 
Subject: VASTLY DIFFERENT CRITICAL OPINIONS 
From: Les Mitnick < [log in to unmask] > 
Date: Mon, January 30, 2017 11:25 pm 
To: [log in to unmask] 

I am going to try to weigh in on this. It's only my feelings being 
expressed, and I speak for no one else. When it comes to professional 
critical opinions, I read very carefully, usually accept the opinion (most 
of the time) and move on. We all are actually our own critics. What 
reaches US individually is highly personal. 
With a role like Norma, there is far too much for everyone to agree on. 
For me, Callas remains the ultimate Norma (on her live recordings, both of 
her studio recordings --------- even though on the second her vocal 
imperfections are easy to discern). On the 1960 studio recording, even 
given the condition of her voice, she moves me like no other Norma. She's 
commanding, has tremendous authority, and puts her stamp on the role as no 
one else has. Given that, I find that despite some flawless singing, 
outstanding duet work with Marilyn Horne, etc, that Joan Sutherland was 
never a real Norma. She lacked the authority and venom that must be present 
in the role. Too many phrases went for nothing. I think that Caballe came 
much closer to the ideal. The role was way beyond Scotto, but she did her 
best (which wasn't enough). I won't go into Elena Suliotis, whom I heard in 
Chicago. At age 25, with a Callas-like voice, she failed terribly, in 
thought. June Anderson tried Norma in Chicago in 1997, and it was at best 
an honorable attempt but still a noble failure. 
Sondra Radvanovsky is most emphatically a beautiful and real Norma, 
though I'm sure many will disagree. No, she can't dip her voice in venom 
like Callas could, but she sings with authority and with conviction. I am 
unaware of any other Norma today who could touch her. But this is only a 
reflection of what moves and thrills ME. I love the opera, and I find the 
Norma situation made even more difficult by the "new approach" by Cecilia 
Bartoli, whom I feel has some really beautiful moments. In fact, the whole 
performance is different from all the others, and it did take me several 
plays to appreciate it. There's room for her interpretation also. I've 
said this before, but I'll say it again: I find it amazing that the critics 
praised it (for the most part) but opera lovers disdained it. Perhaps many 
have changed their minds. 
The crux of my point is that there are so many different ways to 
approach this very complex and difficult role that anyone who undertakes it 
is going to face some controversy, which is healthy. I listen mostly to 
Callas, Caballe, Bartoli, and now Radvanovsky. I find Sutherland's efforts 
to be technically admirable, but for me she's bloodless, and not really 
suited for this opera. The emotional depths of the role are not hers to give. 
So there is no right or wrong. People gravitate to what they like to 
hear in a Norma. I find Radvanovsky today just about "as good it it gets" . 
I'm glad she waited so long to undertake the role and hope oher Norma 
deepens andrefines itself even further in the coming seasons. I wonder what 
Anna Netrebko will one day make of this opera (if she ever besides to 
perform it.) 

























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