The 20 best classical divas?

Today’s edition of The Times has an intriguing ranking list of The 20 best classical divas, by Neil Fisher.

I’m a sucker for ranking lists, so I devoured this feature article and learned a lot, especially of new names to look out for like Veronique Gens.

Fisher’s list ranges from Katherine Jenkins at number 20 to Anna Netrebko in top spot.

Such listings are always subjective. I’ve seen most of the “divas” featured, and my list would be very different. I’d have Netrebko in, but not at number 1; ditto Gheorghiu, but not at 2. I’d promote Renee Fleming from 5 to 2, and Cecilia Bartoli from an absurd 7 to number 1.

For many of the other divas, I’d concur – though I’d exclude the three Brits – Jenkins, Kate Royal and Amanda Roocroft: sadly, “diva” and “Brit” are mutually exclusive in contemporary opera.

Gerry Smith


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