This sense of struggle is compounded by a physical limitation: although she is generally classified as a mezzo-soprano, she sings several roles, including Isolde and Sieglinde, that are normally assigned to sopranos. But her capacities will only take her so far.
"It frustrates me that pitch is half a tone higher than it was in Wagner's time. If it was that bit lower, I could sing Brunnhilde, as well as Strauss's Salome and Verdi's Lady Macbeth. But today they lie just too high for me - I could not get them into my throat."
I just ordered some more tuning forks with 442 Hz (for my different violin cases). Since I restarted playing orchestra and chamber music I had to get used to the higher pitch that is the trend nowadays. I put away my trusty old 440's, and since then my ears accommodated to 442. I notice it at once when an instrument is below that pitch. This is very annoying, because I spend a lot of my time giving guitar lessons, and the students enter after tuning their instruments using electronic tuners set to 440. So I always have to tune down, after I tuned my guitar by ear to 442.
In 1988, the institute initiated a campaign to return to the so-called "Verdi tuning" in the world of classical music, so-called because it was Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi who originally waged a battle to stop the rising of the pitch to which orchestras are tuned. The "Verdi tuning" is one where C=256HZ, or A=432HZ, as opposed to the common practice today of tuning to anywhere from A=440 to A in the 450+ range.
"What worries me more and more - this problem had already started when I was still singing - is that today singers are all confronted with a diapason that is much too high. It should not go over 440, but there are many orchestras that start at 443 and arrive even as high as 450. Conductors will do anything to obtain a more brilliant sonority. The orchestra in Florence, as far as Italy is concerned, has the highest diapason of all. The late Dimitri Mitropoulos imposed it when he conducted Elektra there. This is the reason why real contraltos and bassos no longer exist: because of the enormous increase in the diapason, all the voices are pulled up. To go back to II trovatore in Florence, there was a pompous announcement that Carlo Cossutta would sing 'Di quella pira' in the original key written by Verdi and not the higher version that has become traditional with all tenors. The truth is that the one Verdi composed has become a tone higher!
"The sensuousness that prevailed in all of Wagner's works no longer exists. Why did this composer write so many F-sharps at the beginning of his scores? He knew very well the effect he wished to obtain. Those who play instruments these days no longer know how to extricate themselves from so many problems; the gongs, the bells, all the special musical instruments, all have had to be readjusted or made over. The diapason should be the same everywhere, and Serafin, who saw ahead very clearly, did his best to impose this point of view at a congress held in Great Britain. But it continues to vary from one orchestra to the next. How are voices going to resist? Every day we see promising singers who destroy themselves in no time. This is a period of strikes; why done all the singers get organized, refuse to open their mouths, and say basta? It does not take great intelligence to predict that a big step backward will have to be taken. It will all come to a stop, and then there must be a new, fresh start.”