My wife and I went to see Bizet's "Carmen" at the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night. In general, everything sounded as good as orchestral music amplified in the outdoors can sound.
The lead Denyce Graves, however, was bad. Truly bad. Weirdly bad. I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like it. When she sang the "Habenera" (the first we hear from her), I had to dip into the deepest wells of my own self-discipline not to laugh out loud. She sounded like a not-very-good amateur countertenor (albeit with an unusually big voice) in some cheesy cabaret. Ugly sound. No connection between registers. Serious problems with pitch -- I've never heard such consistently out-of-tune singing in a professional production. (As Mark Swed puts it, "[I]n a couple of places, she might as well have been singing Nono's atonal opera ['Intolleranza'].")
Graves is apparently a well-regarded mezzo-soprano, so I'm just left wondering what the hell went wrong. It was just...so weird.