The story of Katia Ricciarelli: Did the wrong repertoire ruin a voice?


The almost godlike power of twentieth-century conductors may have prematurely ended some singing careers. Riccardo Muti pushed Cheryl Studer into singing everything from Mozart's "Queen of the Night" to the complete opposite vocal spectrum of Wagner's "Isolde". And then when her voice wobbled its objections, he fired her. The power to hire and fire lay with the conductor, as did the ability to shape careers, and (in the case of Karajan) to exercise total control over a singer's recorded legacy. Not that Karajan was the only culprit. Far from it. Nonetheless, his power to make and break careers was absolute and singers followed his advice if they wanted to work in the top European opera houses.