by Leticia Marie Sanchez
The New York Observer reveals that Anna Nebtreko, star of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena was blasted by critics 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.
The Observer’s piece traces opera singers throughout history who have been chastised by critics for simple and dignified gestures like kneeling to an audience after intense applause.
The critics’ negative reaction begs the question: for whom are the 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?
The article notes that on the second night, when the audience cheered, Netrebko repressed herself from smiling.
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.
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