A waist is a terrible thing to mind

Tenor Marcelo Alvarez is seen just after reading a Bloomberg News review of his performance in Luisa Miller at the Verdi Festival in Parma. Was it really all that bad? Well, you decide.

Critic James Amott had nothing but praise for Alvarez’s singing, rhapsodizing “Alvarez gave everything, from delicate pianissimo moments to dramatic Italianate wailing. He made the most of the aria ‘Quando le Sere al Placido’.”

However (and this is a big however), Amott went on to complain that Alvarez is “falling into the classic singer’s trap: a rapidly expanding waistline.

“The myth that great opera singers somehow gain from being fat has been proven false by the likes of Alfredo Kraus, Maria Callas and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Alvarez’s size undermines his performance by making his acting look clumsy and comical.”

La Cieca confesses she is a bit confused by the mixed signals sent by critic Amott, since later in the review he drools over “. . . Parma Ham and Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese. As you walk down the high street, stick your nose into one of the many delicatessens and you’ll never forget that scent.”

Now, in the interest of fairness (and La Cieca thinks her cher public will agree that she has always professed an interest in fairness), it should be pointed out that Alvarez was not the only target of Mr. Amott’s ire. “Soprano Fiorenza Cedolins, as Luisa, sang beautifully,” Amott opines, “but she had an awful hairdo and a frumpy costume, making it tough to see why Rodolfo was so smitten.”

Veteran baritone Leo Nucci, one presumes, brought in his own costumier and hairdresser, since Amott has nothing unpleasant to say about his toilette. In fact, the critic calls Nucci “very watchable” and reports that “the audience went bananas” at the end of Miller’s cabaletta.

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