Angela Gheorghiu is an old-fashioned diva with a tendency for the ornate

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      A Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presentation. At the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, April 3

      From what I’ve read about Angela Gheorghiu, she hasn’t said a great deal of anything much worth hearing about singing. Another turnoff is the diva’s apparent willingness to go along with a press eager to spill the latest gush on her on-again/off-again marriage to tenor Roberto Alagna.

      You almost wonder if her behaviour—hissy fits about costumes and wigs, sudden cancellations, a surprising self-regard shown in interviews—is beginning to eclipse her talent. You have to admit it takes a lot of guts to enter the Kathleen Battle/Kiri Te Kanawa sweepstakes, and nobody wins that one. I suppose you almost have to admire her for her near-single-handed attempt to revive the notoriety of the old-fashioned diva.

      On April 3, Gheorghiu made her first Vancouver appearance with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum, and you could describe it as an initially tense affair. It’s always risky when the backstage stuff pushes the singing aside because one’s expectations naturally go up, the thought being that she must be good for opera companies to put up with the drama—not that all do by any means.

      Gheorghiu walked onto the stage to tumultuous applause and was dressed in what you could call haut-folklore (changing later to a filmy gown of glamourous red). I don’t think anybody in the sold-out house came to hear the VSO play selections from Christoph Willibald von Gluck or Charles-Franí§ois Gounod’s ballet music from Faust. These were only interposed as relief for Gheorghiu, who was the only one they wanted to hear, or see.

      Did the 45-year-old Romanian baby princess rise to those expectations?

      Well, voice buffs are very opinionated, so let me join them and say not quite, at least not to my expectations. That is, not if you measured her against the solid-gold standard of, say, the simple heart-breaking beauty of Renata Tebaldi in Giacomo Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi or her “Ebben?...Ne andró lantana” from Alfredo Catalani’s La Wally.

      But she did some things terrifically, such as the “Aubade” from Jules Massenet’s Cherubin and Arrigo Boito’s “L’altra notte in fondo al mare” (which could be taken as a mad aria) from his virtually lone opera Mefistofele, with runs and arpeggios at a wild speed. She has a beautiful sound to her voice and an amazing breath control. What she could use is a gift for simplicity.

      What I wasn’t expecting was how much more I liked her than I thought I would. True, you could have called her singing sensational while still wishing it were more. But the audience adored her (five encores ranging from “Granada” to “Estrellita”) and she made it very clear she adored the fact that she was here.


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      LM Smith

      Apr 4, 2011 at 6:15pm

      If Angela Gheorghiu hasn't said much about singing it is probably because hardly anyone ever asks her about it, preferring instead to inquire about clothes, marriage issues, etc.. I've often wished these writers would ask her some interesting questions about music but they always seem more interested in private life dramas, etc.. There are a few interviews from the past where she has spoken about singing but you have to dig around for them.

      Sky eye

      Apr 5, 2011 at 12:17pm

      The main floor may have been sold out. The balcony was far from it ... even with $30 rush tickets ... about 50% I'd say ...

      Claude Michaud

      Apr 5, 2011 at 12:49pm

      She is not to be compared to the Great Tebaldi.
      Her voice is beautiful but not that great and her
      italian diction mediocre. Also her voice is not as powerful as Teballdi and
      also not as beautiful.


      Apr 5, 2011 at 4:53pm

      I think it is competely disrespectful to call Angela Gheorghiu "the 45-year-old Romanian baby princess".

      You should take into account her repertoire, career and her acting talent. Yes, she is a diva, but she deserves to be a diva: she is very talented, very beautiful and in high demand. She was singing for the Queen and for Obama and she will continue to do that for years to come. The public in Vancouver loved her and she generously sang for the public beyond her programme.

      Gianni Truvianni

      Apr 23, 2011 at 4:07pm

      In my opinion, she is one of greatest sopranos of her generation with all the acting talent needed to go with her voice.

      Mike Ford

      Apr 24, 2011 at 2:07am

      AG is by far the best soprana of her generation; no doubt about it.

      Mike Ford

      Apr 24, 2011 at 2:15am

      I was a member of the audience in several of her performances in the US; AG has by far the best personality, interpretation of any other soprano in recent memory.