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Can star soprano save Downton Abbey?

It’s a show that defies continuity lapses, credibility gaps and clunky scripts to win enormous international ratings. Every season, several of the actors make their excuses and go off to do some real acting elsewhere. But the producers have a canary up their sleeve to save the next series.

Apparently, Dame Kiri te Kanawa is stepping in to play … an opera singer. Let the bright seraphim… Hang on a minute, here’s another one.


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  1. This is a great example of how she makes Mozart sound hard. Sorry, I bought Don Giovanni on disk and she ruined it. I did love her as the countess in Strauss’s Rozencavalier. Somehow her voice is better for Strauss. She sang Dona Elvira in Don Giovanni, and she those are hard arias, but she made me remember how hard they are the whole time. Another soprano I am not fond of is Carol Van Ness. I paid a fortune as a student in NYC to see her as the Countess in Nozze. Dove Sono was also ruined for me. You said, “speak your mind”.!

  2. richardcarlisle says:

    There was magic in Upstairs-Downstairs with the only similarity in this series appropriately the work “down”… obviously the former writers were not available; the series on at the same time in my area is “Foyle’s War”, a WW2 whodunit way outclassing the Abby.

    Kiri’s impact is anticipated but can you mix caviar with spaghetti?

  3. Now, now, Mr. Lebrecht: the scripts are as believable as any opera libretto.

  4. bratschegirl says:

    “Downton” is definitely a guilty pleasure in our house. Yes, the plot twists have left us with whiplash and the anachronisms in the dialogue are jaw-dropping, but the house! the clothes! the scenery! the cars! sorry, the “motors!” the trains! the dining room footage! Mr. Carson!!!

    I guess “Downton” is my Andre Rieu, or Andrea Bocelli. Full of shortcomings, and I can’t get enough of it.

  5. I don’t like the idea of Kiri te Kanawa appearing in “Downton Abbey”. Surely her appearance is a mere gimmick to brighten things up after the character Matthew’s sudden departure? At her vocal peak Kiri was a world-beating singer, but I heard her about five years ago and thought that it was time she retired. Although I have enjoyed watching “Downton Abbey” perhaps it would be better if it retired also so that people remember it with pleasure rather than with pain.

  6. Judith Lynn says:

    ” Every season, several of the actors make their excuses and go off to do some real acting elsewhere.”
    Actually, two actors have left, after three series and two Christmas specials,leaving about 20 from the original cast.

    You may not enjoy it and yes, some of the story lines are clunky, but millions of people, including me, find it perfect Sunday evening viewing.

  7. Oh dear.

    Kiri is beautiful and can cut an impressive figure, but she isn’t the greatest actress around and she’s known for not being easy to work with.

    If they wanted a retired opera singer for a drama series, couldn’t they have asked Teresa Stratas?

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