Bergitas here. I'm still trying to recover from the shock of finally reading
some positive comments about Sharon Sweet in this discussion. I agree with
just about everything said by Nuala Hallinan . . . including the delightful
closing comment. ("I suppose I'm going to regret this.") In a world wailing
about the lack of grand voices, it strikes me as odd for as grand a voice as
this to be so unappreciated. Not that I would contend for a moment that
Sharon Sweet is an artist without fault; she has a lot to learn about
phrasing and diction and basic expressive- ness. But this is a great voice,
IMHO, and from a vocal point of view I think she handles it pretty darn well.
(No small feat in and of itself.) Granted, I've only seen her once in person
- but that was a spectacularly sung Amelia in a Lyric Opera Masked Ball
several seasons ago. Is there a tougher soprano role in this fach? She
surmounted every vocal challenge in the score in ways that the Lyric's
previous Amelia - Maria Chiara - could never hope to. On the other hand,
there was a definite sense of incompleteness in her performance. . . perhaps
reminiscent of another big-voiced American soprano named Eileen Farrell, who
brought glorious sound galore but maybe not much more to her onstage
performances. (I never saw her, but this seems to be what everyone says.)
Anyway, Farrell's shortcomings on the opera stage didn't keep people from
luxuriating in the gorgeous sounds she made. . . and I wish Sharon Sweet
could enjoy the same treatment. And yet, Eileen Farrell devoted really very
little of her time and career to staged opera, so her lack of finish was
understandable. Maybe we have the right to expect more from Ms. Sweet.
Bottom line- I applaud Nuala for having the good sense to like Sharon Sweet's
voice and the guts to say so.
Oddly enough, I'm also a fan of Dame Gwyneth Jones. . .who is everything that
Sharon Sweet isn't - but with a voice not nearly as beautiful. The common
ground between them is the wall shaking size of sound they're capable of
producing, but otherwise they would seem to be worlds apart. I guess that's
one thing I like about opera. . . the lack of little boxes into which we
have to file away our opinions in logical and predictable order.
Hoping we can all get along,
Greg Berg Carthage College Racine, WI