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Thread: What do you think about DIVAS

  1. #1

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    What do you think about DIVAS

    I post this article in another thread. What do you think about DIVAS among opera singers, violinists, movie stars and skaters? In the October issue of BBC music magazine, Hahn was minted as a diva, which drove (nice pianist) Garrick Ohlsson crazy and he finally walked away from a joint project.

    Kathy Battle’s diva antics were, if not catalogued in affidavit form, recycled with enough spin to make her seem like an amalgam of Streisand, Ross and Eminem. The litany had her reducing colleagues to tears with tantrums; refusing to rehearse with "no-name" conductors; refusing to speak to "underlings" and complaining if they made eye contact.

    In marketing terms having a bit of attitude, in the sometimes ossified world of classical music, is a plus. For a wider audience it infuses Battle performances with an added frisson of soap opera.

    Will she show up? Will there be tantrums backstage? Will she behave?

    It's sort of like setting out for a Nina Simone concert where the drama starts long before the lights go down: it could be a bumpy night and you need to fasten your seat belt. You're part of the drama.

  2. #2

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    Re: What do you think about DIVAS

    I admire true talents who are also nice people. Sometimes I think that Diva-like behavior is put on as part of the act. We all like a good show. But I think that Kathleen Battle has painted herself into a corner. Now people expect rude behavior from her and are disappointed if they don't get it.

    There is no excuse for treating people such as stage hands with contempt (I'm not accusing Battle of that), and for disrespecting the audience by not showing up or by giving only a truncated performance (which Battle certainly has done).


  3. #3

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    Artistic difference?

    A bit off topic for clarification.

    “Hahn was minted as a diva, which drove (nice pianist) Garrick Ohlsson crazy and he finally walked away from a joint project.”

    I am a huge Hahn fan, I knew nothing about the Ohlsson, Hahn broke up re: recording the Brahms sonatas, but I don’t want to leave the impression that she is a diva from h*ll. I think she is one of the most amazing violin talents of the 21st century. At times it is hard for the rest, i.e. the orchestra or the other instrumentalists to keep up. Hahn’s Brahms violin concerto album is an example of the conductor and orchestra being left behind the Hahn sound.

    Hahn was brilliant and did her best to engage the orchestra, and the orchestra and or Sir Mariner fell ZZZZZZZ. It was not one of my most favorite recordings of Brahms. I attended a concert with Hahn (first violin) and Margaret Batjer (second violin) playing the Bach double cto, and again, Hahn’s clarity of sound left Batjer behind a bit.

    Olhsson is a lyric pianist who has recorded the complete Chopin’s work.

    It is quite a feat for any pianist to record the entire volume of Chopin’s work. If the Hahn and Olhsson partnership works out, I imagine it will be a fantastic set of Brahms sonatas. It did not work out, most likely because of artistic difference, and we the audience are the losers.

    It is not easy to find a good music partner. Yo Yo Ma is lucky to have E. Ax, Milstein was lucky to have the great Horowitz, Midori has Robert McDonald,

    and Chee-Yun has Akira Eguchi.

    I sincerely hope Hahn will find hers. Meanwhile the latest buzz is that Hahn and Batjer will be recording the Bach double for DG (first Hahn recording since she ditched Sony Classical for Universal Classics.) I hope Bajter will match Hahn in this new recording. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Menuhin, Oistrakh caliber performance for the Bach double? I am secretly wishing Hahn will finish recording the Bach sonata and partitias for solo violin before embarking on any more partnership with another soloist. She recorded 3/6 pieces when she was 17.

  4. #4

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    Re: Artistic difference?

    I heard Garrick Ohlsson live back in the '80s. He was jaw-droppingly great--and had the most amazing hands I've ever seen. Incredibly long--about as long from wrist to fingertips as my whole forearm.

    Anyway, as to divas, as long as they show up, I don't care. And even sometimes when they don't show up, I don't care. But I think the standards for figure skating and opera are different. And just to stir the pot, I think that presenting oneself as "humble" can be an act, too. My experience comes mostly from dancers, many of whom I toured with and thus got to see in a variety of situations. The point is, some of the dancers who were most compelling and beautiful on stage were absolutely horrible people. And some of their horrible behavior specifically affected me. Yet I could not deny who were the truly great artists.

    For a while the company I was with had two co-artistic directors. One woman wanted to be the director AND everybody's friend. Some people outside the company thought she was "just the nicest person," but nobody in the company trusted her. The other woman was an outright diva and would sell her parents down the river if it meant getting what she wanted. I found her easier to deal with than Fake Ms. Nice because at least you knew where you stood with her. You knew she hated you, that you were there only because of your abilities as a dancer; there was no pretense of friendship.

    Of course, ultimately I most enjoyed working with people who were both artistically talented and not controlled by their neuroses. But if I had to choose, I'd take an artistically talented diva over an artistically mediocre person who tried to "act nice." JMO.

  5. #5

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    Re: Artistic difference?

    I don't believe they belong in any artistic endeavour except Opera! Ballet has its Prima Ballerina Assolutas; Theater has its First Lady of.

    Figure Skaters (female) just don't have such a term. Maybe one can say the "Reigning Olympic Champ".

    The term Diva in figure skating is purely a commercial thing.


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