Richard, Barbara, Katherine, and I saw this Bizet opera at the Met on 1/8. It was the first time the Met had done it in a hundred years - - I heard it in Chicago years ago and really enjoyed it, it's full of simply gorgeous music. The Met production had a starry cast, and my hopes were high.
The music lived up to my memory of it - - each of the three leads has a stellar aria, and the duet between the tenor and the baritone near the start of the show ("Au fond du temple saint") is one of the most-performed duets in the repertoire, it's ravishingly beautiful. The three singers were all extraordinary:
Diana Damrau was the soprano, and while her singing isn't quite as great as it used to be, her voice is lovely and she knows her way around this kind of music. She has a few mannerisms that bug me, but not enough to mar the experience. Mariusz Kwieczen was the baritone, and sang like a dream, glorious full tone just rolling out of him. Plus he's easy on the eyes, which is always a treat.
The standout was Matthew Polenzani. I've been hearing him at the Met since I moved to New York, he's worked his way up through the apprentice program. Oh, what sublime singing. His aria is punishingly high and sustained, and he sang it with such ease and sweetness. He's the real deal, I'm going to make more of an effort to see him in the future.
Do you feel a "however" coming on? The problem is the story is so unbelievably stupid! You think I'd be used to this, as an opera fan. I talked about this with Martha Fischer over the weekend - - I brought up the standard case of *Trovatore*, which also has an idiotic story, and she said, "But that's got a gypsy WITCH!" Maybe this show could use a gypsy witch.