I have decided to blog a response to Paul's comment. Find this here.
Since I never liked Hampson when he sounded good, I am sort of enjoying him now that his voice has a rasp. This raspy tone is much more suitable for Verdi. His Germont is the most I have ever liked him. Maybe I will like Dwayne Croft more when his voice starts to get a bit raspy. Croft was fabulous in what he was cast for--secondary lead in Manon, an opera which allows for a less significant tone. Dmitri should try Germont. Maybe he already has and I haven't heard about it. [I see he has a DVD with Ciofi.]
I love Strauss and Renée is a major practitioner. I have been thinking of traveling to see more Strauss. The problem with Capriccio is that we can't get attracted to the ambivalent character of the Countess. Renée portrays and sings her very well, but maybe we just don't give a damn. The opera is a long discussion about which is more important: words or music. As a devotee of opera and all vocal music, I would hardly wish to see one without the other. The Countess sums it up--the marriage of words and music produces a third art which transforms both. Her problem in choosing a suitor is that no one is there to represent this third transcendent art form.
I liked her German which I could understand. If there is anything to criticize, it is that she sometimes sacrificed phrase to diction. In Strauss phrase is everything. I don't understand Italian or French well enough to comment.
Renée Fleming is a true diva. The mark of the diva is her immediate recognizability. To see or hear her, you are never going to mistake her for someone else. The only problem with Renée is that there is often a bit of breath in her tone. Nothing she sang here was as good as her glorious Tatiana, but this may be due to the lack of dramatic continuity. She is a great artist, and I'm glad she was honored in this way.
Blah blah blah. Hi, Paul. Hope you are well.