Search This Blog

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Roberto Alagna: A Popular (And Controversial) French Tenor



Roberto Alagna is still a relatively young, and certainly very popular French tenor, born in 1963 in Clichy-sous-Bois, France. His parents were Sicilian immigrants into France (hence the Italian name) but he is thoroughly French: born, raised and educated in France. As a young man, he was largely a café singer, without much in the way of formal training. Clearly possessing a first class voice, of considerable range and power, he moved fairly easily and obviously to opera, and made his debut as Alfredo in 1988, with the Glyndebourne touring opera company. His rise to fame was fast. There have not been many first rate tenors from France since the days of Georges Thill. He was soon in demand everywhere. His biography is easily consulted, and Youtube is fairly alive with his videos. We can move directly to a discussion.

There is no more typical or well known role for a French tenor than Faust. This has always been the case, and it is a good place to start. Faust's big aria, "Salut demeure, chaste et pure," is one of the best known in opera, and it has been a near career-wrecker since it was written. The exposed high C, at the aria's climax, was actually written by Gounod, as opposed to being interpolated by singers. French tenors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries took the big note in head voice, which had long been a French tradition. Even Thill, in the 20's took the note in head voice, something that is seldom if ever done today. Here is Alagna, in 2004 at Covent Garden, in this famous aria. You will note the crowd's reaction at the end, in a house known for its ability to turn to ice at the least slip by even the greatest of singers (most notably Maria Callas):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpiBI1wOavI


There have been few French tenors, historically, who can produce a climactic high C in that particular aria as successfully as Alagna does. The range is rock-solid, from top to bottom. He is also a very handsome man, and his stage presence is striking, at least in this formalized setting, where Alagna, in my opinion, is at his best and least controversial. When he sticks within the French repertoire, in traditionally produced operas, which is where he belongs in my opinion, he is virtually without serious competition.

Here he is with Bryn Terfel, the great Welsh bass-baritone, in one of the most beautiful arias ever written, known by all opera lovers, the duet from the Pearl Fishers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tLrPVkfCIQ


It is very beautiful, very authentic, and, as in the case of the Faust aria, vociferously applauded by the audience. I think it is important to observe that these videos are, respectively, from Covent Garden and the Met. These are important opera audiences. I say this because I want to stress the degree of his success and the level at which he sings. And this brings us naturally to the other side of Alagna. He is disliked by a significant number of people. Most will remember the fiasco as La Scala a few years ago, when, in a production of Aida, the notorious loggionisti decided to give him a hard time after his rendering of "Celeste Aida," for reasons that have never been entirely clear but which may have been as politically as musically motivated. Most singers who run afoul of these ill-mannered boors simply ignore them. Alagna, however, is rather temperamental and thin-skinned, and made the devastating mistake of walking off stage, pretty much bringing the opera to a halt until some understudy, score in hand, in his Levis, moved on stage to somehow get the show through the first act. Alagna was banned for life from La Scala as a result of this outburst. It must also be said that a few months later he did Aida at the Met, and was received with a standing ovation at the end of the opera. Music as blood sport.

The controversy runs deeper, however. This final video, from Romeo and Juliet, is very long and I do not expect anyone to watch it all the way through. In fact, if you have just eaten, it might be a good idea not to. The first couple of minutes tell the story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QAH_IpEG6o&feature=related


Well, I'm sure you get the idea.

La Rochefoucauld once observed that "Some people have more intelligence than taste, others more taste than intelligence; but there are more quirks and variations in taste than in intelligence." And so it would seem. When I was growing up, in the 1950's, opera, at least in New York, was a pretty standard and largely predictable business: Traviata, Cavalleria, Pagliacci, Carmen, Rigoletto, Tosca, Andrea Chenier, Turandot, La Boheme, Masked Ball, Rigoletto, Trovatore; all the heavy-duty verismo-tending standard repertoire. Now, something like atomic fission has taken place—the atom that was opera is split. Much energy has been released, and some it is taking curious forms. We see world-wide performances of Orfeo ed Euridice, Julius Caesar, Rodelinda, Europa Riconosciuta, Mitridate, and many, many other 18th century operas, which are finding an increasingly large audience. Male altos abound again, as they once did. On the other hand, we have extremely "modern" stage settings of formerly standard repertoire favorites. I think of this as a post-verismo phenomenon, trying now not only to be "realistic" in the standard sense of the word, but avant-garde, often to the extent of trying to outdo popular culture and its quasi-pornographic obsessions. This seems to me like a Rococo flash of convoluted confusion, spelling danger for "realistic" opera in general. God, was there ever anything "real" about opera!?

These tasteless stage settings do not do opera any good, and they bring a dubious kind of attention to Alagna. This is a shame, because he is a good and popular opera star, fulfilling a long-felt need for another great French tenor. With so much going for him, why settle for what is clearly second-rate, transitory trendiness?

33 comments:

corax said...

i am glad you have included an entry on alagna. as usual you are spot-on in every detail. i wish you could serve as professional coach for some of these turbulent young careers; they would certainly make fewer catastrophic errors. ah well. my sense is that alagna is not terribly eager for advice ...

corax said...

also -- i would like to add that probably the only way you could increase the wittiness of your own writing is by adding a bon mot from la rochefoucauld. which you have now also done. :-)

Edmund St. Austell said...

How nice to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words. I don't think I would be in any position to tell so successful a singer much of anything:) And of course he probably gets all kind of advice. Which I'm sure he ignores. Strange, insn't it, how people make the same kinds of mistakes over and over, but if success is involved, no advice is wanted, because the success itself seems like fate's approval. And who is going to argue with fate? Thank you so much for commenting.

JD Hobbes said...

Well, yes, "modern" opera is as boring to me as "modern" Shakespeare. So I agree.

Young people generally do make the same mistakes. One exception I can think of is Cecelia Bartoli. Of course, she was born into the business, so to speak, and her mother is a dominant force. It is nice to see her level head, though, and follow her very solid career.

Edmund St. Austell said...

Actually, you make a very interesting comparison. Certainly Bartoli is sui generis. People have wondered for years why she doesn't tackle the big roles on stage--Amneris, inter alia. But she is very, very single minded, and very much her own person. She is quite fond of ancient music, and has had a remarkable recording career. She also does a lot of concertizing. I'm sure she makes plenty of money doing what she likes most. Also, she is no mean scholar. She has discovered some previously unknown Vivaldi music, and she endeared herself forever to me, for one, with her album a few years back highlighting Salieri, who has posthumously suffered outrageous injustice at the hands of those who tried to ridicule and demean him with all that stupid Mozart business. Books have been written on this great composer ("A Master Maligned," for one); Beethoven studied counterpoint with him, etc. He was consider a great composer in his day. Bartoli's album was almost concurrent with La Scala's re-opening gala a few years back, when they featured Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta as their gala premiere. Yes, you are right. She gets it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Alagna is not “controversial” at all, when he performs in traditional productions. A fine artist, skillful and intelligent. I especially like that there are subtle nuances in his singing, while his voice sounds powerful enough.
It’s interesting that the duet from Pearl fishers was staged like a concert (or maybe it was a concert?) , but their boring tail-coats don’t bother audience, because the music is too beautiful and the duet is sung masterfully.
I watched all the video of Romeo and Juliet, it’s so stupid and so similar to “Manon” with Netrebko. Everything in the production distracts audience from the music, singing and the general meaning of the scene. Their “costumes” and poses annihilated all the romanticism. I also imagine that it was not easy for Alagna to sing in reclining position with Netrebko weighing on his stomach:) . It seems that directors don’t care about singing.

n.a.

JING said...

Edmund, you capture with great clarity the two sides of Alagna's art and career. I'm not sure why, but he is a singer I have never particularly warmed to. But you certainly lift up what a worthy talent and accomplished artist he is. But, for him, I suppose, that isn't quite enough. Thus all the other escapades, ego, and temperament...Yes, I confess it - I watched from beginning to end the nine minutes or so of the scene from "Romeo and Juliet" - with the rapt attention and fascination of witnessing a train wreck. Many questions arose as I did. Whose idea was this? How was it possible to sound so good vocally in all those contorted and tangled poses? Netrebko is undeniably a knock-out, but where did Roberto get that wardrobe? And other unbidden thoughts arose, such as imagining Gigli and Ponselle given the same blocking by some earlier Peter Sellars-style director. Tucker and Tebaldi? I recall seeing James McCracken and Marilyn Horne in an embarrassing love scene in Carmen at the Met years ago, described by a reviewer as "two dumplings trying to get passionate with each other." And though I didn't witness it personally, Maria Ewing notoriously "taking it all off," having turned Salome's ghastly dance into a strip-tease. But - as you say, when indeed has there ever been anything real about opera?

Edmund St. Austell said...

Я абсолютно согласен с вами, мой друг! I worried about him singing on his back also, while watching Netrebko coming at him like a.........well, uh, no need to say any more:) It is terribly distracting, you are right. It seems misguided, doesn't it? The whole opera world was delighted to FINALLY have a really, really good French tenor who could sing the big roles. And he does them very well. This other silly business is a European disease that seems to have infected American opera now, and, as I point out in the piece, it seems to mark the end of something much more than it does the beginning of anything.

Thanks so much for yet another excellent comment!

Nuhman said...

I like very much this article about Roberto Alagna

Edmund St. Austell said...

Thank you very much. I appreciate your comment.

Brent said...

I guess I'll come right out and say I have never liked Alagna. Admittedly I have never heard him live, and I ran into a rather embarrassing situation last summer having talked Dessay down before seeing her live in Traviata and weeping so hard I shook in the last scene. There is something about the French voice - more so than others - which is impossible to capture.

That caveat in mind, where I went wrong with Dessay - the inability to hear on video the subtle nuances such as the tender release of her notes and the after resonance that lingers in the theater (even when it doesn't have walls) - is not something I think I could have missed in Alagna's recordings. He's got the same issue I have with Netrebko and his wife Gheorghiu: a very powerful voice, a wide and pure register, but so little artistry I just feel like they're yelling at me.

I could only get 30 seconds into the singing in the Romeo et Juliet video before turning it off. Atrocious staging aside, when you are dying in you're lovers arms (albeit for 10-16 minutes) do not yell. It is not only unbelievable character wise, but very very annoying. I call it yelling because the sound made is that of someone who knows how to project well over the orchestra, but seems to be oblivious that there could be something else beyond that when it comes to singing. A sort of "I'm loud enough, what else do you want, what do you mean there’s more?" sort of thing.

Edmund you make some good points, and I have rethought much of my standard understanding of Alagna, but even with your help, I wasn’t blown away by his Faust: his high C was pure and ringing, but empty.

Maybe it's just me. I admittedly know a lot more about the visual arts than I do about opera (though I like opera a lot more) and I understand that there are just some artists I don't jive with, and I'd be perfectly willing to admit, if someone can convince me, that there is artistry there I'm just not jiving with, but I can't see it at all honestly.

I'm always eager to be proven wrong, and if Alagna ever comes through my area I will be the first to get tickets to see him live, but in his video performances I will pass.

There, and now you have the words from an Alagna dissenter.

Are there any Alagna lovers out there who will voice their reasons for love?

Edmund St. Austell said...

You make a very strong case with your extremely well written comment, not at all easy to gainsay. I know what you mean, and I suspect many will agree with you. Alagna is indeed a controversial tenor, largely for the reasons you elucidate. I suppose I am bending over backwards in an attempt to point out at least some of the reasons he attracts fans as well as dissenters. I came up against the same problem writing about del Monaco, another tenor guaranteed to start a screaming argument. I thought I would hit the same problem with Callas, but for some reason, it was easier, perhaps because she has been gone for some time now, and a general overview of her life and career is possible. As for Roberto, I suppose a large part of my motivation is the greatly felt need (at least on my part)for another French tenor to celebrate. I love Georges Thill,and do so regret that there is not someone to replace him in a repertoire that no longer receives the attention it once did.

Thank you for a superbly insightful and well expressed comment! You have given me something to think about.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Alagna has very rare talent-he is both the fine singer and the excellent actor (that is very important for the opera performances).

I am not like the bed scenes from "Romeo..." and "Manon" also. But here there is the principal question: who is the stage manager? Namely the stage manager has the main responsibility for the performances.
In the last time there are very much modern variations from classic. Of course the actor may be refused but the performances are all his professional life.

Though the album "Sicilien" is very and very good also, it is a much pities if Alagna will be proceeding on folk and light music only.


Thank you and excuse me my english.

Edmund St. Austell said...

Thank you very much for your comment. You make a very good point, and that is about the importance of the stage director (for better or worse!) I agree with you. The rise of the stage director over the last 20 years or so is not a particularly good sign. An opera needs to stand or fall on the basis of the music and singing. People are ready (and have been for a century) to overlook staging, sets, and even acting if the singing and conducting are brilliant. It's just the nature of the beast, and quirky and "innovative" stage direction add nothing whatsoever to the opera; usually, it detracts.

Anonymous said...

Dear Edmund St. Austell!
Thank you very much for your reply. You are right, the classic demands a very carefull treatment.
Then I schould like to know your opinion about Alagna active vaudeville singing. It is known that it is not good for the voice of the classical vocalist. And what does the world opera community think about that?

Edmund St. Austell said...

Generally speaking, you are right: singing musical comedy or popular songs requires a different approach to voice production. The beauty of musical line is often sacrificed to dramatic effects, and the need for extremely clear enunciation often compromises the quality of vocal production. It is usually something that singers start to do toward the end of their careers, because it is a lot easier, and sometimes it pays well. Singers like Lauritz Melchior, Helen Traubel, Patrice Munsel, Lawrence Tibbett, Jan Kiepura, Richard Tauber, and many, many others had active "secondary" careers in lighter music. But it is not the way to keep a great opera voice alive.

channing said...

Are there any Alagna lovers out there? Decidedly, yes. Here are the thoughts of one Alagna devotee: Let's start with the basics - a Sicilian immigrant who grew up in an impoverished Paris suburb,small and scrawny.(He is today a mere 5'8" and 160 pounds, tops.) Classically trained? Does viewing Mario Lanza in "The Caruso Story" qualify? Probably not. With no classical training he tumbles into the Pavarotti competition in 1989 and wins. He is ridiculously fast-tracked to the very top, and, along the way, tends to a dying wife and is left with a small daughter to raise. An interesting side note is that during the last two years of her illness, he did not miss one rehearsal or performance, nor returning to her bedside every night. This speaks to strength of character.

Alagna is blessed with extraordinary talent - tone, diction, nuance, even vibrato, immense control and that indefinable French sound - just remember, thre's a Sicilian underneath. He is, as correctly stated, at his best within French repertoire. Unfortunately, I think the pressures, whether internal or external, to do the "big" roles are probably immense. And, he has made some unfortunate choices. He is very excitable, very emotional, ultra-sensitive and very very hard on himself. This passion and emotion is what translates onto the stage every night he performs. He is engaging, warm, funny and real. He has a passion for life that is enviable. If this means he participates sometimes in questionable events supporting his less talented brothers, willing to risk the wrath of the critics - that family comes first,I applaud him for this as a human being. We could all take a lesson or two from him on how to live in this world. Mistakes?? Absolutely. Does he tend to "push" on the high notes sharping consistently? Yes. Does he hang on sometimes just because he can? Guilty. Do I wish someone with thoughtfulness and a sense of his talent might better direct him? Absolutely. But, no one brings tears to my eyes or raises the hair on the back of my neck more than Alagna when he is on, and he is on more than he is off. He is at his finest in the quiet, sustained moments. He's had a difficult decade of marriage and a difficult two years of divorce. My hope for him now is that he temporarily have some fun in his "cross-over" moments,(His are better than most.) relax, get re-grounded, begin to take care, better care, of his voice and talents and slow down with fewer but better choices. With care, we should have his unique talents for another twenty years. That is my wish. Can any of us imagine the confusion and complexity of emotion he must have felt receiving the French medal of honour given his story? I don't think so. His is a remarkable story; it is opera.

Opera is always a high-wire act.Given its drama,egos, complexity, style of director, staging, style and mood of conductors, last-minute substitutions, languages, costume changes and weight, etc., it is a wonder that any opera comes together , particularly on the "big" stages for those magical evenings. I am in awe of anyone who reaches these levels of performance, who willingly trains and studies so long and so hard, who gives up family for months at a time and, who, for the most part, La Scala excepted, goes on in spite of the most difficult of circumstances. I'm sorry Alagna walked out on Aida but I also understand it. Several years ago, Domingo needed a last-minute Otello in L.A. and turned to Alagna. He had a mere three weeks to learn the role and he graciously took it on; that is both commitment and generosity and I think balances the error of Aida. He gets a pass from me for any of his errors, missteps, straining or sharping and silly moments. He can produce infinite magic for me and I will happily wait patiently for those moments. Did I answer the question?

Edmund St. Austell said...

Wow! You sure did! I'm sold:) Excellent comment, remarkably well written, and very convincing. Thank you for that! And I basically tend to agree. With the single exception of the bothersome stage direction I wrote about,and his seeming willingness to go with it, I'm with you. There clearly is a lot to the man and his talent. His following is enormous, and his fans defend him passionately. I respect that. Excellent comment. Thank you!

channing said...

Thank-you so much. I sometimes think we are quick to criticise and Alagna has been an easy target, whether it is his clothing choices, (bold to say the least and a little over the top, but then the horrific wardrobe choices directors are making for him only support his questionable choices - to have a trim tenor is obviously a treat to clothe, but, really...the Romeo pants were just obscene), his frank and honest comments,(Horror when he answered directly what he was paid for a performance.) or sometimes we simply confuse passion with arrogance. I would find living with Angela G. quite trying and I think she hurt him deeply, both personally and professionally - and we were all privy to much of it, the good, the bad and the ugly;she unnecessarily attacked his family who obviously ground him. Not cool.

We often forget that the impact of poverty almost always trumps any ethnicity or other characteristics. Whether Bill Clinton or Kiri Te Kanawa, she, another of my favorites,poverty can unwittingly drive decisions. (Te Kanawa ultimately appeared seduced with the clothing, social lifestyle and money more easily made from cross-over recordings and simple concertising.) She had the talent and could have pushed into more difficult repertoire, been more disciplined, more dedicated, but chose a different direction.) You go, girl, you earned it and I never walked in your shoes - oops, that's right, you didn't have any during your childhood. She is surely another wonderbook story. I mention her for, in spite of a stellar career, she refused to sing at La Scala because of her fears of the loggionisti. She was quite terrified of them and, again, that long shadow of poverty can leave permanent insecurities in spite of tremendous talent.

You are correct on the stage direction and I do not know what the problem is, Alagna's confusion in the heat of the moment, which I sometimes suspect, unclear staging or direction, or, if all the controversy over the difficulty of the "two of them" has caused him to be more passive in accepting poorly crafted stage direction. I do not know when we lost musical control over opera, putting it into the hands of "directors", talented usually but often unfamiliar with the uniqueness of opera, not to mention the limits even opera singers have on control and endurance. Watching the trailers for the up-coming Met season and, in particular, the Wagner, I'm wondering where the actual msical scores are in the pecking order, and who exactly will be hanging from those high wires? We've become a tough and unforgiving audience,bored if the sets are traditional and old, outraged if they are new and shocking. My favorite review has to be "Opera News",Vienna,December, '09, "Macbeth" with Simon Keenlyside!

We are so blessed with so many new young talents. Why can't we all pull back, lower the expectations and simply enjoy the phenomenon of the human voice in the magic of opera? It would be healthier for all, but particularly for our opera stars which is what they are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much!
Dear Edmund, thank you very much for your articles at all. It's very and very interesting!

As for Alagna. Dear Channing, I am glad to read your words. I think also that Alagna is the unordinary personality at all...
His stage characters are not the lovers simply, they gush their love to all world very generously. His voice, his emotion, his passion are as a gift of the life.
I know about the more than dramatic situation in his first marriage; and - about second. Of course Angela is a Queen as it's right that Roberto cann't to be the obedient page. The situation is fatal again...
I feels with Alagna very much, by all my soul.

Edmund St. Austell said...

I have never heard it said better, my friend!

Edmund St. Austell said...

Yes, I see exactly what you mean. Thank you very much!

Edmund St. Austell said...

Thank you for the additional links. It will take me a day or so, but I will watch them all!

Anonymous said...

I have recently found your site and read it with interest. Regarding the Romeo and Juliette costumes for Alagna, I find it puzzling that he should be criticized about this. Ramon Vargas sang Romeo in earlier performances and the purple tights he wore were disliked, so the wardrobe came up with the blue pants. Remember that Romeo was to have been sung by Villazon so the costume was not designed for Alagna at all. Regarding the remarks made by Avvocato Orsini, he sounded much like Gheorghiu when she criticized Alagna's family being working class! I have to say that when he sings, he conveys great enjoyment to the listener. Also when M. Orsini says the voice is fading, Alagna has just sung in Francesca de Rimini at the Opera Bastille to great acclaim and sold out houses. Critics have all commented on the beauty of his voice and diction. As for not singing pianissimo, have you heard the singing of "E Lucevan le Stelle" from the Met last month? Thank you.

Edmund St. Austell said...

Thank you very much indeed for insightful and penetrating comments that help establish balance in a discussion that is, by its very nature, controversial. So many factors, including personal taste, modern versus traditional ideas about opera staging, and so on, contribute to making it so. You are always more than welcome here, to join the discussions. You write well, and make good points, and that is much appreciated! Thank you.

Avvocato Orsini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avvocato Orsini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gioacchino Florio-Maragioglio said...

I just give a little idea:

I read in the comment above he was singing «Don Carlo». This I find very interesting, the great Roberto Alagna making the début in a new production of «Don Carlo». It made me think of the Italian production of 1884, when Don Carlo was sung by Francesco Tamagno.

It is interesting to see the difference in casting, no?

Another point, the Teatro alla Scala in 2008, «Aïda» a wonderful thing! I was in the crowd, and me was pleased that the audience still controls Teatro alla Scala!

Edmund StAustell said...

I have to wonder: When he walked out of Aida after the big first act aria, who was right and who was wrong, in your opinion--him or the loggionisti? He certainly paid a high price for his actions....he is, as far as I know, banned for life from La Scala.

Gioacchino Florio-Maragioglio said...

In my opinion? Alagna. You need much steel in your spine to be a great opera singer.

If you are booed at any house, as a singer, you must quickly understand why. Sometimes they boo not just you, but the conductor, the orchestra, another performer...

Then you react. If it is in the middle of your romanza, you strength to forte and drown them out.

By walking out of Teatro alla Scala, Alagna confirmed the audience's judgement.

Gioacchino Florio-Maragioglio said...

Let me add another thing: if this is the modern evolution of the great French tenor, I do not like it. He is not fit to stand with Poncet or Thill.

Edmund StAustell said...

Thank you. Well said!

Guillaume said...

Hi Edmund. Your website is very interesting. I thought you might be interested to hear the stance of a native French speaker about a French singer. I know English, German and a little Italian but I think my evaluation of singers in these languages could never be as precise as in my native language. I could miss small flaws of pronunciation, accent or intonation. I think it may even be more so for foreign speakers listening to French, a language in which there are so many slightly different vowels.

Of course it holds true mostly for foreign singers. And indeed most of them can't pronounce French properly. There a very few exceptions like the Dutch baritone Bernard Kuysen, but even Tony Poncet's accent is so strong I can barely understand anything he is saying (although he lived in France most of his life and was even granted French nationality!).

As for French singers, there is no such problem. But there may be other problems. The first would be bad diction and lack of clarity. It is very common. The singer may be French, with a pure French accent, but you can still not understand anything.

Then there is the issue of the French R. Trying to sing opera using the guttural Parisian R may interrupt the legato and one may end up emitting ugly scraping noises. So most singers usually use the trilled/rolled R. But this also is not very beautiful. Many people from Portugal, Italy, and later on Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia have immigrated to France in the last century, and have mostly been proletarians (ironically it includes Alagna’s parents). All these countries use thrilled R’s, and this pronunciation have been associated with being from a low social class. Picture a King Arthur having a Liverpool or south redneck accent and you will understand why it just isn’t ideal for many opera roles.

One of the strengths of Alagna, besides being a native French speaker and have a very good diction, is the way he pronounces the R in an intermediate way, making it sound very close to the real french R, while avoiding the latter’s problems. Of course he is not the first one to do it, you could already hear this kind of R from the light baritone Jacques Herbillon for example, but it is rare enough to make him stand out.

Some really strong thrilled R’s (mostly from Spanish Singers) can even be unbearable. As much as I love Teresa Berganza in the Spanish and Italian repertoire, I cannot stand listening to her singing in French just for that reason. Of course some of my favourite French singers like Georges Thill or Camille Maurane used moderately thrilled R's and it doesn't prevent me from liking them better than Alagna, but my point is that if they had pronounced this letter like Alagna does, they would have sounded even better.



For other aspects of Alagna's singing, I think it doesn't make any difference whether you know the French language or not. Because it doesn't have anything to do with language but with singing skills. I'm not a specialist and there are many people here who seem more competent than me to judge it. I’ll just say I agree with what you said in the article about his vocal skills and how he fills a gap of almost a century.

I also agree with what others said, that while it is good he has a powerful voice, he often overuses it. Just because you have a Ferrari doesn’t mean you should drive 200 miles/hour when you pass in front of a kindergarten. Georges Thill in this regard was just perfect, he always used wisely his powerful voice.

I like Alagna overall. He is not the perfect singer, but his aforementioned qualities suffice to make me overlook these minor flaws.

As for all this horrible staging, we live in an age of vulgarity, and it has unfortunately crept into Opera. However, Alagna doesn’t hold much responsibility for this, besides having bad taste for choosing the productions he takes part in. And it doesn’t detract him from his quality as a singer.