Rebel Singer Out to Save 'Dusty' Operas

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2009 5:25 PM CST

(Newser) – Natalie Dessay is still butting heads with opera purists after twenty-some years in the business. The zesty soprano, an actor at heart, upsets some critics by adding theatrical gestures and even screams to her roles. "At least it's alive," Dessay says of her style. Opera, on the other hand, "is dusty. But it can be dusted. That's my mission." The freethinking diva is profiled by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker.

Dessay wants daring filmmakers like Tim Burton and Baz Lurhmann to direct opera, although she doubts she'll stay in the business herself. “I don’t have roles like old ladies, or witches,” says Dessay, 43. “There are none for my kind of voice.” Still, she’s booked for the next 5 years, and is delving into Bellini’s La Sonnambula—which will start ruffling feathers next week at the Met.
(Read more opera stories.)