Opera singer panned as sexual violence downstairs leaves viewers reeling.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa came in for a critical savaging from the UK Daily Telegraph’sopera critic after her highly anticipated appearance in Downton Abbey was shown on the weekend. The frequently vitriolic Rupert Christiansen referred to Dame Kiri’s vocal performance as marred by “sharp unsteady intonation, heavy vibrato and tastelessly swooping portamento” before going on to attack her dramatic representation.

“Dame Kiri delivered a few lines of dialogue in stiffly parroted and nervous fashion which reminded me that even in her glorious vocal prime she had never been much of an actress,” Christiansen complained, adding that “her flatly modern mid-Atlantic accent was nothing like Melba’s cultivated diction.” The splenetic critic went on to complain that even though Melba was “something of an old soak”, it was highly unlikely that she would have touched a glass of claret before singing.

Finding the episode “ludicrous” and “improbable” he took the program makers to task as well. The real Nellie Melba would never have tolerated being “confined to her room with a cup of tea and treated by Carson as though she was a visiting tradesperson”, he opined, maintaining that “she would...

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