The tragedy of Britney Spears – and it is literally a tragedy – is of a woman driven mad by the social demands of her beauty and her family's need for her to perform for money. Am I the only person in the world who finds this suspiciously close to Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor? In that opera, when the audience first sees Lucia, she is at a secret meeting place, furtively looking out for prying eyes – just as we always see Britney. Lucia's opening aria, "Quando, rapido in estasi," is a gorgeous evocation of forbidden love – the 19-century version of Spears' hit "Toxic."
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The brilliance of Amy Winehouse is she has recognized she is a character in an opera and that, like other operatic voices, she is called forth to sing her own destruction. The power of the female voice, as every opera lover knows, is supreme. If you are in the right place at the right time with the right singer, her voice will go right into your chest and then down. You feel like you are the instrument being played.
Control is the key word in both opera and the "bad girls" celebrity narrative. The contemporary nunnery is rehab, the house of penitent women, where lost girls reclaim their virtue and self-control. Winehouse won't go there. Or she will. That's the plot of Act I. Let's hope it's not a one-act opera.
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La casa de la mujeres en penitencia... Brillante, realmente brillante. [completo]