And the winner...in a wimple, is...Juan Diego Flórez in the Met production of Le Comte Ory.Photo by Marty Sohl © 2011 The Metropolitan OperaIt's been an interesting season at the big house on W. 64th Street, with the usual blend of new productions, classic revivals and cancellations by Angela Gheorghiu. This season was marked by the launch of the new Robert Lepage staging of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.
The star of that show, the $16 million dollar clattering, cantankerous collection of cogs and camshafts that serves as a treacherous unit set for this production. (By our count, there were two onstage accidents and two malfunctions.) Oh well, at least there were no conductors fired because of last-minute schedule changes.
I saw every production at the Met this year, except for The Magic Flute and The Queen of Spades. Missed that one due to illness. So here's a look at the top ten performances at the Met this season, with links to the full reviews and quotes from my sharp-penned blog posts. Enjoy, and watch for the summer festival preview coming later this week.
10) Boris Godunov
"The stage became a killing ground, with choristers wielding knives and ropes, killing police officers, nobles, Jesuits, and each other in an orgy of rage and violence. The rabble was quelled by the apperance of Marina and her advisor Rangoni on horseback, with the Pretender, "Dmitri" being significantly forced to walk."
9) Die Walküre
"The performances are so absorbing that you simply forget about the hype and the problematic multi-million dollar set, and get pulled into the great drama of the Wälsungs, Wotan, and Brünnhilde."
"Ms. Fleming brought intelligence and candor to the complex, ambiguous role of the Countess. Her voice isn't quite as golden as it once was, but she still sings Strauss with a burnished sheen and an intelligence of articulation that has become the trademark of her later career."
7) La Traviata
"Whirling about the stage in high scarlet pumps and a red dress, Ms. Poplavskaya went from being every man's fantasy to every man's victim--a potent interpretation that will resonate in the minds of opera lovers for years to come.
6) Ariadne auf Naxos
"Ariadne has four fearsome leading roles, and the Tuesday night cast matched the composer's exacting requirements. Joyce DiDonato sang the Composer in the opera's Prologue. This was yet another trouser role for the American mezzo, as the Mozart-like author of the Ariadne opera who learns that his work will be "improved" upon by the artistic whims of his patron, the unnamed "richest man in Vienna."
5) Lucia di Lammermoor
"It goes beyond the superficial warbling of the leading lady and explores Lucia as what it really is: a rock-ribbed, full-blooded family drama with as much excitement and stagecraft as the mature works of Giuseppe Verdi."
4) Pelléas et Mélisande
"Magdalena Kozena was a strong, unconventional Mélisande, not the wilting flower associated with this role. There was something of the destructive faerie bride about her performance, something unearthly in her Act III solo in the tower."
Mr. Held sang with dark nobility in the opening act of the opera, creating a defensive barrier around the character that was slowly torn down by the Captain, his Doctor (the excellent Walter Fink) and his rapidly deteriorating relationship with Marie."
2) Don Pasquale
"When she turned on Pasquale, Ms. Netrebko acted out every opera house manager's worst backstage nightmare to great comic effect. The Met has seen its share of diva drama over its long history, and many in the house last night enjoyed the inside joke."
...and the winner is....
1) Le Comte Ory
"Mr. Flórez, now decked out in a nun's habit and wimple, sang a glorious duet with Ms. Damrau, letting their remarkable voices fly free."