Nicolas Sarkozy”s visit here this week has reminded me of another Frenchman we had visiting a couple of weeks ago; the operatic tenor Roberto Alagna. He is married to the soprano Angela Gheorghiu whom I interviewed when she was here in April.
Angela has a reputation for being a diva. But she was charming, courteous and talented. She sang beautifully at a concert here and all were enamoured. It was another story with M. Alagna however. He chose to sing with a microphone. Heaven knows why. But the result was that his voice sounded like a bad recording. The beauty of an opera voice is in its purity. M. Alagna’s voice sounded about as pure as a bad telephone line in a storm.
At the interval I left in disgust. I figured being the half-Italian daughter of an opera critic I was entitled to storm out. I heard the following day from a French friend of mine who had been at the concert and caused a small riot during the interval.
She is a very well-connected friend and knew all the organisers of the concert. She demanded they come out from behind the scenes to talk to her and explain themselves.
“Please ask him to get rid of the microphone,” she urged. “This is what the audience wants, the way he is singing now is a scandal.”
The organisers came back from M. Alagna’s changing room with the following message: “He will not sing without a microphone, what matters is not what the audience wants but what M. Alagna wants. He can sing from a bath-tub if he wants to.”
Well, that might be an improvement. As long as he keeps his clothes on.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009