Where Are All the Divas?


And I don’t mean pop divas. I mean Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Kattleen Battle divas.

When I was little I wanted to be an opera singer. The only problem was, I don’t like operas. I mean, the four-and-a-half-hour torture session-operas. Once I dragged my poor unsuspecting brother to see Marilyn Horne in Semiramide. It’s famous for the big scene in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I couldn’t wait for the spectacle. But when the time came, the lead sang in front of a screen with a tree painted on it. And this was New York’s Metropolitan Opera. We were wondering where Marilyn Horne was. Then we realized she was older now and her voice was deeper so she was playing the male lead. My brother turned to me and said, “Kill me.” Four and half hours later we finally escaped.

But I do love opera arias. I remember seeing Kathleen Battle in concert at Carnegie Hall — breathtakingly dazzling woman. What a voice. I love opera in short doses. So perhaps that is the problem in the opera world today. Who are the stars and who is writing new operas?

The legends are all older now. The star power and the glamour have gone. I can’t think of who could possibly replace Luciano Pavarotti. And with the current economic recession, there are no financial backers for the Arts.

The Baltimore Opera filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and many other opera companies are in trouble.

I suppose I’m part of the problem. I don’t like to go to the opera but I do like gala concert events. Perhaps what the opera world needs is some new stars.

Where have all the divas gone?

Here is the unparralled Jessye Norman singing Ave Maria.

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