I cannot explain my taste for these ridiculous pictures taken of the screen during the HD simulcast of the Met gala.
This one seems only to capture her basic Renéeness.
It was about glamor. It was about outfits--fabulous outfits. It was about jewelry. Annie Leibovitz photographed it all for Vogue. It was about Renée Fleming, the prima donna of today's Metropolitan Opera.
My only previous experience of such a gala was at the Washington National Opera where Placido Domingo did two parties (Fedora and Fledermaus) with the end of Otello in between. Barbara Frittoli as Desdemona sang more than Placido.
Renée bit off a much bigger chunk. All of her scenes--the country and return to Flora's scenes from La Traviata, the street scene and San Sulpice from Manon, and the end of Capriccio--were significant and intense. It was a night of important singing.
Important support came from Thomas Hampson in La Traviata and Ramon Vargas in Traviata and Manon.
I have only heard Capriccio sung by Kiri te Kanawa, a singer who stuck carefully to her gorgeous legato and let it work for her. Renée reaches beyond, attempts significant acting interpretations of each role with interesting results. I laughed out loud (alone, I'm afraid) when she lay backwards over the prayer stool in her attempt to seduce des Grieux. Reminder of this bedroom posture seems to have done the trick. Her Manon just wants to have fun.
The Met went all out in its coverage, though there were technical difficulties at the start. We did not hear the narration for Renée's biography. We have Susan Graham to interview at the Met and Deborah Voigt interviewing in Times Square. Both were in form. Debbie's tactic seemed to be to interview people in Times Square who were fans of her own. This seemed to work well. Susie's interviewees were almost as flattering.
The Met of 2008 is an endless party, and Renée Fleming is the life of the party.