How do people here feel about her singing.Should I give her another chance?
I can but won't point you to a blog where her name elicits disgraceful
filth. Some history: I was on the committee that awarded her the
Tucker Award (was that 1990 or so?). We all felt we had rarely heard
so beautiful and silvery a tone, so well handled over a wide range.
She was clearly the best that year, for a kind of musical elegance the
best in years. I felt that in 90's she was at her peak. She did five
of the best live Fiordaligi's that I've ever heard, every note in
place, endless phrases, remarkable breath, fabulous trills, melting
piani and pianissimi, clear words. I thought her very first go at
Manon, four performances, was the best sung I had ever heard live (I
started with De los Angeles live, I had the Feraldy and Luart and
Vallin records). Beautiful words, gorgeous tone, those endless
phrases. Not a live wire or more than dignified on stage but it was
wonderful to hear the music that way. There were also several very
good Desdemonas (the very best a few weeks after she had given birth
-- there's a DVD with -- who else in the entire world for forty years
-- Domingo not as good but still fine). Her live Armida with Queler
was an astonishing display with an incredible final scene (the packed
house went mad -- it's on Operashare). But years earlier she had done
the dress of a Sonnambula and that was really beautiful too, very
limpid, glorious trills, also a Straniera that was gorgeous. I think
she got in a very good Rusalka, and in DC had done a somewhat light
but floaty-beautiful Thais (on Operashare).
BUT with time she became rather mannered. In that first decade she
sang freely with a lot of abandon, but she became rather cautious
about letting her 'whole' voice out, crooning, swooping between notes
and abusing the 'white' tone (robbing her tone of vibrato). She had
shown a formidable chest but got careful there too. Only occasionally
after a while did her voice flash out and sometimes she used really
odd 'jazzy' mannerisms.
I do think the Thais and Rusalka commercial records are very good and
the first certainly compares very well to any commercial recording,
she has some tough competition from Czech Nationals in the second but
I don't find her inferior as a singer, though I can't assess her
pronunciation. I think her earlier aria CDs are usually very good
(Signatures is an early one with familiar scenes, I also like Night
Music with Thibaudet), and the I Want Magic CD (arias from American
Operas) though less direct and 'clean' than the impeccable Dawn Upshaw
collection (some overlap) is plusher in tone and more generous
emotionally. Some people love the Manon DVD (I find it very good but
on the brink in terms of her 'mannerisms'). Her recorded Cosi (Solti's
second) is not as wonderful as she was live. I wrote a version of
Onegin she did with Hvorostovsky on PBS, they were staggering and are
very good on the Met DVD. I like the CD of Strauss Scenes (very slow
tempi from Eschenbach alas) but there are too many amazing versions of
the Four Last Songs for hers to really be toward the upper middle of
the list, and I didn't care for the DVD of Capriccio, though I saw her
give a fine performance of it.
I have found her less persuasive lately or rather over the past eight
or so years -- a disappointing Pirata, a small scaled somehow
emotionally false Violetta (but a beautiful second act at two
performances at least).
For what it's worth...