Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
I've just heard an interview with the famous American opera singer, Jessye Norman, who has come to the UK to give performances of popular songs of the non-operatic kind.
Somehow, I just hate to hear trained, world-class classical singers belting out covers of middle-of-the-road tunes - it's a bit like putting a race-horse between the shafts of a hay cart and watching it struggle down a farm track.
My German friends tell me that they heard Ms Norman in a version of Wagner or whatever, and her accent was absolutely perfect, despite the fact that she does not actually understand the language. She has such control over her own voice, that she has instant mastery over any language, dealing with it as she does - as pure sound.
So to hear her giving a poor and insincere rendition of, say, an Aretha Franklin or Liza Minnelli number just makes me cringe. And why do classical singers feel the need to put extended vibrato on the end of each and every line, when the original called for one clear and sustained note? It's not as if they cannot hit any note they want at will, and usually in about 2 more octaves than anyone else. The end result is pretty much the same as if you had gone into a sheltered home for the elderly and asked a 95 year-old woman to sing 'Oh Danny Boy' in quarter-time.
I suppose these singers make quite a lot of money from sell-out concerts of 'popular' music, and they have reached such heights in their careers that to do so does not detract from their credibility, but I don't think that is any excuse.
It is a shame that - like race-horses - classical singers are not put out to stud when they have peaked at their chosen profession, rather than being put out to grass or worse. I have a great image of Willard White being lead around various fee-paying music schools and being left alone in a private room with young and promising female students, just to see if another Jessye Norman can be raised and trained. N.F.N.F. I bet Willard wouldn't mind the idea either.
I wonder if the same would work for extremely gifted, handsome and talented (if somewhat elderly) stone-carvers?