Rebecca Mead's profile of Natalie Dessay appears in this week's New Yorker (online for subscribers). In one scene, Dessay talks to Roland Geyer, the Intendant of the Theater an der Wien, about the possibility of singing in a revival of Falstaff — not the Verdi masterpiece but the 1799 version by Antonio Salieri:
A member of Geyer's staff went backstage and gave Dessay a copy of the Falstaff. During intermission, she paged through it, scanning the staves to see if the role rose to vocal heights sufficient to interest her. . . . "There's nothing to sing here," she said of the Salieri, leafing swiftly through in pursuit of a challenging aria before studying the music in greater detail. On a first pass, at least, she didn't find much. "If I do something without high notes, everyone will say, 'Oh, she doesn't have high notes anymore.' You can do it once, but if you do it again and again they start to talk, and then the reputation is gone."
Dessay sings in La Sonnambula at the Met starting on March 2. I'll review that production and the new Trovatore later in the month.