The second half began with a scene from Rossini’s Otello. Just a she was reaching the touching (and quiet) end of Desdemona’s prayer a phone went off. Loud and clear from the stalls, with one of those annoying retro ringtones. As DiDonato left the stage during the applause (mixed with calls of “vergogna” — “shame”!) someone shouted out, “If you go home to telephone it would be better,” which was greeted by bravos, and more applause. But as the American diva returned she diffused the atmosphere effortlessly by asking whether, by chance, it was Rossini who had called to see how the aria had gone, adding, in Italian, ‘They say that this theatre is full of ghosts: grazie Gioachino!’
The great Leontyne Price singing ‘Dis-moi que je suis belle’ or the ‘Mirror Aria’ from Massenet’s opera Thais.
An absolutely beautiful piece, brought to life in sparkling vocal form by Price. She has such gorgeously rich, expressive elements in her middle voice, and yet complete dramatic attack in the upper register, always with superb tonality.
The way she ignites on the written High D6 is just fabulous. A firework display in her throat.
“There’s nothing left for me to sing. I’ve done most of the roles I could do. I don’t want to play Juliette. At my age? Please! Or Lucia or Adina or anything else like that. That’s why I’m quitting. You have to love your repertoire. For a while I thought it was fun, but no. On to something else.”
Here’s to the end of a magnificent career of one of the most important artists of the past three decades. Natalie is an extraordinary singing actress and her contribution to the opera world will be sorely missed. Words cannot express how saddened I am by this. Opera will definitely not be the same.
And one of the most important things about what we call classical music is that it maintains the idea that we shouldn’t just be spoon-fed easy stuff, that we need to actually be given stuff that we can struggle with — and that if we do struggle with stuff we’ll get much more out of it.