I had a pleasant off-line exchange with Nuala Hallinan about Sharon
Sweet, during which I promised to listen attentively to the upcoming
Met Forza, thereby giving Ms. Sweet another chance to win me over.
There *are* things about Sweet's voice that I find attractive. My main
objection is that I find her unmusical: she doesn't make music, she
makes notes. The voice seems composed of parts that don't fit into a
whole. Characterization is almost nil. Finally, she has a tendency to
sing just off pitch.
That said, there's only one soprano currently singing whom I'd prefer
to hear in this role: Deborah Voigt. I don't even know if she sings it.
(Sidebar: Best I ever heard in the house: Leontyne Price; the one I'd
most like to have heard : Rosa Ponselle.)
I can't agree with Greg Berg's likening Sweet to Eileen Farrell,
though. I find Farrell far superior in musicality and technique, her
voice much more beautiful, and the emotion that she projects more
appropriate to the character.
Although I never heard it in an opera house, Farrell's voice was, I'm
pretty sure, bigger than Sweet's. Even so, there's a live "Depuis le
jour" with Farrell that's as lovely and lyrical as you could ever hope
to hear. I can't imagine Sweet's being able to do that (but maybe she
So I look forward to Saturday's Forza, and if Sweet knocks me out, I'll
be happy to admit it.
I am delighted, on the other hand, to join Greg in praise of Dame
Gwyneth Jones. Although Jones sang a Fidelio here at SFO in the late
'70s that set my teeth on edge (wobble as wide as a drive-through
Redwood), she has since provided us with stunning Elektras, daunting
Dyers Wifes, and amazing Bruennhildes.
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