A soprano in praise of Verdi bikinis

A soprano in praise of Verdi bikinis


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2018

This is Ms Nadine Sierra on social media:

Putting on “the bikini” again tomorrow for Nannetta at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden ! I’ll admit that when the director first told me that my costume would be a bikini for Acts I & II, I panicked! The physical act of singing and using one’s diaphragm to support each note doesn’t necessarily look flattering according to today’s beauty standards…but as the director explained his concept of Nannetta to me and wanting to showcase this youthful quality she possesses along with Fenton, I quickly understood that I needed to play HER in this outfit rather than myself. I needed to stop worrying about my own insecurities as Nadine and show exactly how I envision Nannetta as being confident, young, vibrant, clever, and beautiful. This shift in mentality worked and gave me so many things to play with, that I actually LOVE my bikini scenes now! I feel like I can easily serve the character now, thus serving the music Verdi set to the libretto. With this, I feel like I’ve gained some confidence in myself that maybe I didn’t realize I could have; the confidence to be bold no matter what my characters wear and show off my own imperfections with grace. Afterall, I love being only human 🤗

The opera, in case you’re bothered, is Falstaff.



  • Alexander says:

    I’m glad that ” it mentally worked ( for her) and gave ( her) so many things to play with ( sounds a bit of ambiguously ) ” . Since soprano is the “score element” in the most number of operas one should keep it in one’s mind that the main thing is to have a happy, healthy and ( apparently in this particular case) resourceful soprano onstage 😉

  • Caravaggio says:

    In other words, she is announcing to casting agents the world over, from the rooftop: “I am willing and available for all manner of directorial whims and travesties”. I suppose it’s the only way to gain employment in an increasingly, brutally cynical art form.

    • Nik says:

      Maybe she enjoys singing in a bikini? Have you considered that?

    • Yes Addison says:

      She’s a good singer. She’s hardly hurting for work. She sings all over the world and isn’t quite 30 yet. I’m not sure how much busier you’d expect her to get as a result of ingratiating herself with casting agents via Facebook. Maybe she’s just honestly expressing how she felt about something she’s in, and there isn’t an agenda beyond that.

      She was in the revival of Ponnelle’s Idomeneo at the Met last year, and was one of the best reasons to see it. So, she wears pretty period costumes in old-fashioned exhibits by dead directors too, when that’s the gig.

      • Henning says:

        I did not think she was such a great asset in Idomeneo or for that matter any of the other singers in the revival compared to the older Met production which is still available on DVD!

    • Brian B says:

      Nobody, not even conductors, have the courage to say “No.” Regie rules the roast.

  • anon says:

    Ms. Sierra,

    Is your director a woman?

    Did your male director also put the male singers in speedos? The better to “reveal” their inner youthful, vibrant, and beautiful character?

    Perhaps Verdi meant for his singers to convey the inner character of their roles purely by their voice?

    Just because the director hands you the Kool-Aid doesn’t mean you have to drink it.

    Think for yourself.

    • Yes Addison says:

      In opposing a production you don’t like or expect you wouldn’t like, you’re arguing against any production at all. If singers created the characters in Falstaff entirely through their voices, baritones would never wear comedic fat suits; sopranos would never don Elizabethan garb for a traditional production. Whether it’s Martone’s Falstaff in Berlin, Carsen’s, Michieletto’s, Jones’s, Wernicke’s, Zeffirelli’s, all the way back to what Verdi saw Victor Maurel in at the premiere, there has been the mediation of direction/design.

      Even in the concert presentations of it I’ve seen, the singers didn’t create the characters solely through their voices. They acted or mugged somewhat.

    • Chipper says:

      I love Nadine Sierra and appreciate her positive attitude, but I think the photo says it all. She’s in a bikini, while the guy is in long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. These directors and their “concepts”…

  • Nik says:

    Mario Martone is 58 1/2.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Nothing new here. Cosi Fan Tutte at QE Hall had both sopranos, bikini clad, in deck chairs and their men went off and came back with tea towels on their heads thus making themselves unrecognisable. Risible.

  • Zenaida says:

    Nothing new in Germany – the Deutsche Oper Berlin current new production of Korngold’s “Wunder der Heliane” calls for a naked Heliane in the first act. Soprano Sara Jakubiak follows the book and stage director Christof Loy’s wishes. She does not wear a body stocking. However, the lighting and her natural poise make this scene completely natural.

    • David Hilton says:

      “The Deutsche Oper Berlin current new production of Korngold’s “Wunder der Heliane” calls for a naked Heliane in the first act”. Actually, it’s Korngold who calls for a naked Heliane in the first act. It’s in the score, and essential to the drama. It’s only because she visits the stranger in his cell and reveals herself naked to him that Heliane is in the second act put on trial for being unchaste. Take out the nudity in the first act and you make a nonsense of the second act.

      Nudity on stage is not a recent innovation and has a much longer pedigree than many people realise.

  • RW2013 says:

    It’s been a pretty naked week in Berlin with Adam’s Passion (Pärt/Wilson) and Heliane (Korngold).

    • mr oakmountain says:

      At least in Heliane it was the author’s and composers INTENTION that the lead singer be naked (for about half a second or so), and – like in Salome – it had had a function in the advancement of the plot.

  • Maria says:

    Not a pretty sight to sit and watch any singer’s mechanism work on stage and get distracted but then it’s Germany and concept productions that often go down like a lead balloon in other places.

    • Brian says:

      I bet Peter Gelb could sell some seats at the Met with this production. Put up some advertisements around NYC with Ms. Sierra (who looks quite fit in these photos) and you’ll get plenty of men willing to sit through a long evening of Falstaff.

      • Una says:

        Yeah, and not hear the music!

        Makes a pretty bad night out if you have to sit and watch all the bodily movements of singers from the groin up!