None too bright

None too bright


norman lebrecht

July 08, 2007

I know we’re supposed to suspend critical judgement at charity gigs, but a chance sight of Sarah Brightman attacking Nessun Dorma at the Shanghai corner of Al Gore’s Live Earth made me want to save something more endangered than a little old planet.
Transposing Puccini’s tenor aria for non-operatic soprano was a tacky idea. It substituted warble for vibrato, evoking the gooey feeling you get when coffee cream has been poured mistakenly into a cup of tea. Ms Brightman cannot manage anything emotionally more complex than the loves me/loves me not music of middle-period Lloyd Webber and was left gulping for air where she should have been vocally in mid-line. The orchestration must have been arranged at a local copy shop and the Chinese audience, as seen on TV, were presumably supposed to know no better.
True, Shanghai was the hardest nut to crack in Al’s bowl. Neither the Chinese government nor the national media were much interested in signing up to good eco behaviour and the show consisted mostly of local pop stars. Ms Brightman was there to add cosmopolitan glamour but all she brought was a soiled aria, a second-hand plastic rose. Even Ms Streisand, in her opera album, never sunk so low when aiming so high.


  • danielle says:

    It was raining and the power went out .There was no time for rehearsals because it took her 18 hrs to get there.
    NL: And your point is? She should not have been singing Nessun Dorma, which is a tenor aria. The transposition flattened the music, damaging its ecology.

  • Foster Beyers says:

    Speaking of Nessun Dorma, I am suprised you haven’t said anything about Paul Potts. Although I admire his passion and commitment he is no better than thousands of amateur choral singers. The fast track to an album with the London Symphony is a hell of a way to start a career but it is a chance that many trained singers have given a lifetime of study to get. A long career as a musical ARTIST takes more than talent.
    NL: I did, briefly, on NBC News. But I’m waiting to hear his debut disc, any day now.