I saw the following in an article on Slate this morning:
Some scholars (yes, there are diva scholars) have defined the essence of the diva not merely as a good voice, but as a mix of tragic vulnerability with defiant will. Cultural critic Wayne Kostenbaum has written that “the conviction ‘I will sing!’ begins with a primary alienation and unhappiness.” To be a diva is to be always exuding the pathos of “I Will Survive!” Central to the pleasure that we experience in hearing a diva sing about overcoming heartache and despair is the always looming threat of her failure; if she wishes to maintain her allure, she can never risk appearing to be too happy.
Are opera divas distinctly different from pop divas? I’ve never really thought about it much, but my immediate reaction is that I’d want the singers I admire to be happy so that they can perform at their best. Why would one want them to be tragic?