Who was that singing in Bridgerton?

Who was that singing in Bridgerton?


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2021

The opera singer character Siena Rosso was played by Sabrina Bartlett, but the voice behind her belonged to Rowan Pierce.

Applause, please.



  • V.Lind says:

    Is anybody watching this woke rubbish? I have not even checked it out.

    • IntBaritone says:

      “On January 27, Netflix announced that the series had been watched by a record 82 million households in its first 28 days, making it the most-watched series to date on the service.”

      What an idiotic comment.

      If this show is woke (because there are black people in it who are not servants, I guess?) then you live a super sheltered and sad life.

      • Stuart L. says:

        Very enjoyable.

      • V.Lind says:

        Oh? They mixed easily and without comment in high society in Regency times? Perhaps you could recommend me a history book.

        I was just rewatching The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman the other night — I first saw it, and Sounder, when I was a student so am a long-time admirer of the late Cicely Tyson. (It’s my practice to watch or rewatch things involving favourite actors when I hear of their passing, which is why I recently saw The Untouchables and The Man Who Would be King for the first time in a while. Not just actors — the recent death of John Le Carré led me to rewatch every filmed version of his work and to listen to every BBC drama of his work, as well as to re-read some of the unfilmed work).

        I recently enjoyed Steve McQueen’s series Small Axe, and have seen or continue to see many films or TV series that are about REAL black people. I think Bridgerton is just silly and, as I have argued here before, makes a mockery of real black history by implying that blacks had it so good, as the Americans would put it. I know that blacks were treated differently in England than in the US, but the very fact that Small Axe can be made, let alone stories like that of Steven Lawrence or Damilola Taylor, shows what a fantasy Bridgerton is peddling. I find the notion distasteful.

        • Caractacus says:

          Bridgerton never pretended to be historically accurate or authentic. It’s a bit of frothy light entertainment. If you don’t like it then don’t watch it. In some ways it is so off course that it becomes hilarious. Witness the moment when a waltz is danced to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in 4/4 time! In these fraught times a bit of silly escapism is quite welcome.

        • Adrienne says:

          I couldn’t have put it better. It is highly manipulative, box-ticking, ratings-chasing rubbish.

          It does a huge disservice to black people to shoe-horn them into inappropriate roles which conceal reality, knowing full well that critics will be reluctant to criticise them. Virtue signallers will hover around like blow flies.

          Let’s have drama which is at least moderately believable and does not distort the truth, there’s no shortage of subject matter.

        • Anon9 says:

          V.Lind – “Oh? They mixed easily and without comment in high society in Regency times? Perhaps you could recommend me a history book.”

          How about Amanda Goodrich: Henry Redhead Yorke, Colonial Radical
          Politics and Identity in the Atlantic World, 1772-1813 (Routledge, 2019), for a start? There are others, and research is ongoing.

          How much do you in fact know about “real black history” or “REAL black people”? Apart from television and the movies?

          This is of course beside the point. The Bridgerton situation is of course a stretch of the imagination — after all, it is romantic fiction. But the stretch is perhaps a smaller one than you make out. Consider the implications of the existence of such as Joseph Bologne, Dido Elizabeth Belle, George Bridgetower, Elaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho (portrayed by Gainsborough), names out of my very limited knowledge … to say nothing of the Indian wives of Nabobs. But this is all ground trodden before, in the earlier Bridgerton post.

          I always suspect people who resort to ‘woke’ of substituting cliché for thought.

      • Allen says:

        82 million? In that case I shall switch immediately to the highest circulation, tabloid newspapers, as this is a clear indication of quality.

    • BruceB says:

      News flash: it’s fiction.

    • Stuart says:

      you haven’t checked it out and yet you have concluded (based on…) that it is rubbish. You fit right in with today’s closed-minded population.

      • V.Lind says:

        In general I admit to being as angry as you at people pre-judging something they haven’t seen. I am not commenting on the quality of the show, as I have not seen it. I am telling you why I won’t watch it, and the reason is the casting, which I think distasteful for the reasons I put above.

        Obviously many — 82 million? they may not all like it! — disagree, as you are entitled to. But I think it is a misguided initiative, and prefer to see genuine stories about authentic experiences in black history (or imagination) — not falsified history.

        Do you think that 82 million is composed only of thinking people? Do you realise how many people believe every line of Oliver Stone’s JFK? Do you think most young people in England read history? Shows like this — certainly, fictional — will lead a lot of the uneducated and unthoughtful to the view that things were a lot better for blacks than the whingers maintain, so what are they whingeing about. I do not happen to think that is in anybody’s interests. That’s why I don’t like this type of show.

        Based on… based on the many articles boasting about the colour-blind casting, and the photographs of characters clearly identified as aristocrats.

        • Anon9 says:

          V.Lind. But some people of African descent did not, in fact, have it so bad in the eighteenth century; should this be brushed under the carpet so that the uneducated masses are not led astray? I have just reread Jane Austen’s unfinished Sanditon. She, the most socially realistic of novelists, has a rich Creole heiress being set up for possible marriage to an impoverished English Lord. If it is good enough for her …

          • V.Lind says:

            I’d be interested in a series that was about blacks in 18th century Britain and how they “had it.”

            I just think authentic stories would be a more valuable contribution than colour-blind casting, which in these fraught times makes a very false impression of how exactly blacks “had it” or “have it.”

          • Adrienne says:

            “colour-blind casting”

            But it isn’t, that’s the problem. It is almost invariably “pro-black” or, occasionally “pro-brown” casting. Colour blind casting in favour of, say, people of Chinese descent is extremely rare and reinforces the impression that black people are somehow special-needs. It is damaging and, to me, very insulting.

          • Anon9 says:

            V.Lind – “blacks had it so good” was a phrase you used.

            I’m not sure if this actually is colour-blind casting. Colour-blind would be a black King Lear, or a white Porgy, a rather different thing from this, in which, as I understand it, the storyline posits a creole Duke in an “alternative history in which Queen Charlotte’s mixed race heritage was not only well-established but was transformative for Black people and other people of color in England”. (The Queen Charlotte thing is nonsense historically, but the concept is merely being used as a peg for this ‘alternative history’, which seems to me to be a legitimate fictional device.) If the equally fictional and hypothetical basis for Black Panther is acceptable, why not this?

            I agree that we need authentic stories, and they are there to be found. Here is another link that might interest you: https://www.bl.uk/restoration-18th-century-literature/articles/african-writers-and-black-thought-in-18th-century-britain#

            As for Bridgerton, it is a Shonda Rhimes production, she is African-American, and I assume she knows what she is doing and why.

            Back to music …

          • V.Lind says:

            Shonda Rhimes is interested in ratings. Her last outing, Scandal, pushed an agenda in which a manipulative, dishonest, aggressive bitch effectively ran a US president and was always portrayed as superior intellectually and morally to everyone else. (She was, of course, black; the president was white). It was absolute rubbish, but successful rubbish — it ran for 7 seasons.

            Shonda Rhimes knows her agenda, and her audience. And her H.L. Mencken.

        • Anon9 says:

          Correction on Sanditon – it is a gentleman (Sir Edward) not a lord that the Creole heiress may be intended for.

  • Maria says:

    Never heard of any of this stuff! Thank God I have better things to do!

  • Me says:

    That’s funny because another article claimed the actress sang her own parts. Said she even took singing lessons. I never believed it was the actress. Her voice didn’t fit.

  • A drewB says:

    The choice of operatic music was at odds with the Georgian period. We had Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride, but then the Barcarolle from Offenbach’s Hoffman. Clearly the music was chosen for effect not historical accuracy.
    Lest folks dismiss the series , it is extremely well acted by the leads and there are some great cameo roles. Netflix have clearly thrown a lot of money at the production and it has paid dividends.
    It is what it says on the tin – or perhaps lid of the chocolates box – an entertaining serialisation of a set of novels, not to be taken too seriously and in fact warning is given at the beginning about some bad language and sex scenes. If it had been a failure folks would not have bothered to watch all the episodes. Instead public reaction seems to have been very positive.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Lovely singing. Who sang the mezzo part in Offenbach’s Barcarolle duet? (Speaking of anachronisms…)

  • Brad Mitchell says:

    It was great TV.
    Based on some of the comments here, I wonder if some of you don’t attend orchestral concerts of Haydn or Mozart as the orchestras today contain musicians of colour or women, who were not present in the composers lifetimes. Do you boycott operas where black singers play the lead “white” roles?!
    Some of you really come across as rather ridiculous!