The Bigger Soprano

Covent Garden’s sacking of Deborah Voigt once again brings up the issue of ample girth in opera. “It has become a cliche to say that we live in an era of ‘director’s opera’, and that it is the producer rather than the singer who now reigns supreme. This is only partly true. Although there is a growing demand for theatrical veracity in opera, any operatic performance that is poorly sung is simply a non-starter. But there was a time when none of this even mattered. Jokes about the disparity between voice and appearance have always abounded, even among opera’s most ardent admirers and practitioners.”