By Peter G. Davis [New York Magazine, 10 October 2005]
Toscanini once famously put a Met diva in her place by telling her that the only stars he knew were in heaven. He was wrong, of course. Stars have been a top priority at the Metropolitan Opera ever since the company opened for business in 1883, and the first weeks of the season are always a good time to scan the skies and see if there are still a few bright points of light left shining. Most critics would rank Marcelo Álvarez, Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu, Susan Graham, Bryn Terfel, and Violeta Urmana among today’s operatic elite, and these seven étoiles have been adding whatever luster they can to the Met’s current performances. Whether they represent a new standard of golden-age singing or the feeble remnants of a tottering art form depends upon which opera fan you talk to.