The Inner Voice of Reason

You may well be surprised to hear La Cieca say this, cher public, but she’s bellowing a lusty “brava” to none other than Renee Fleming. On yesterday’s matinee Met broadcast of Rigoletto, Fleming took on a role associated with Geraldine Farrar, that of intermission commentatress. One of the first questions she lobbed at Joseph Calleja (Duca in the performance) was his opinion on the Roberto Alagna brouhaha. Calleja sensibly non-committed, but Fleming spoke eloquently off the cuff, essentially becoming the first member of the opera establishment to defend the “walkout” tenor.

Now, admittedly, Fleming has some personal stake in this argument since she has herself been booed rather violently in the same theater, as you all recall. But La Cieca definitely agrees with Fleming’s contention that Alagna should be allowed by La Scala at least to attempt the further performances of the run. It’s a very reasonable and pro-artist attitude, and La Cieca thinks very likely representative of Fleming’s offstage personality. (By that La Cieca means really offstage, i.e., away from the grand persona Fleming adopts when giving interviews.)

Now, is it too much to hope that, just perhaps, Fleming might allow some of that offstage wisdom and good humor to infuse her operatic and concert performances? Her onstage vocal antics are just as unnecessary (and just as counterproductive) as Alagna’s offstage tantrums.

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