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Is an opera singer allowed to smile?

 

This article originally appeared on Cultural Cocktail Hour in 2011

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

In 2011 critics blasted Anna Nebtreko, star of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena for daring to smile on opening night at the Metropolitan Opera. The audience wildly cheered Ms. Netrebko after a particularly grueling and moving rendition of the aria Al dolce guidami. Netrebko, who had been gazing upward, briefly smiled, causing the audience to erupt in more cheers.

The critics lambasted her for this gesture, which they claim caused her to break character.

Their negative reaction begs the question: for whom are singers performing: naysaying critics or their beloved audience?

What about the bond between a singer and the audience?

Opera celebrates the wide gamut of human emotions. Why should should natural feelings and spontaneous impulses be constrained?

When a singer is not allowed to acknowledge the connection with their audience or their own emotional triumph, that is a shame.

The critics should realize that one can have vibrant fonts of human emotions or one can have statues.

One cannot have both.

Posted by on March 17th, 2018

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