If you are an opera-lover or a culture enthusiast, get yourself to London in early March for Beethoven’s Fidelio, to be sung by Lise Davidsen and Jonas Kaufmann at the Royal Opera House. While Kaufmann is undoubtedly the world’s most sought-after operatic tenor, the primary draw is Davidsen. This newly minted Norwegian soprano possesses what many are calling the most important voice to have emerged in decades, and it could possibly prove to be the most important voice of the century. What makes it so momentous?
The classically trained human voice is a super-conductor of human emotions, and as such it is both the lure and the mania of opera. Fans are constantly on the lookout for a voice whose emotive power is irresistible and overwhelming. Enter Davidsen. She is a true dramatic soprano, with enough resonance and squillo (the ability to cut through an orchestra) to handle even the most taxing Wagnerian roles with ease. Unlike so many other dramatic sopranos, whose piercing sound is the only attribute that qualifies them to sing this repertoire, her voice is not just phenomenally huge and penetrating but also extraordinarily beautiful. It is a voice that wraps itself around you, enfolding you in its warm embrace. As did legendary singers of the past, Davidsen effortlessly rolls out wave after wave of sumptuous sound. The vocal antecedent who comes to mind is another Norwegian, Kirsten Flagstad, whose heyday was before anyone alive can remember.