Like Callas, Sutherland was presumed destined to sing Wagner, and like Callas, she found a vessel for her artistry in bel canto. Can you blame her? Wagner didn't much care for the human voice, which, like his audiences, her preferred to torture into exhausted submission. Callas herself famously observed that to be a musician was to live to serve the music, but in the case of Wagner, service more closely resembles servitude. Bel canto is no less difficult; it makes extraordinary demands on its women in particular. If Wagner is a marathon, Donizetti is a decathalon, and whereas a Wagnerian singer is ultimately a vocal thread in an immensely overwrought orchestral Rube Goldberg device, a Norma or Lucrezia is totally exposed, for triumph or failure, not only because at last her voice is the music, but also, but equally, because she's not just some allegorical mythological pastiche in a crackpot 19th-century Dungeons and Dragons episode, but because the great tragic heroines are exposed as human beings--it isn't easy to tear out your own heart while singing a high E-flat.