We are referring, of course, to Rossini's Armida presented in HD from the Metropolitan Opera today. I saw this while still reeling from the hideous noises being made by otherwise perfectly good singers in Ades' The Tempest. We have in Rossini someone actually capable of composing for the extreme ends of people's ranges.
Factoid: Renée Fleming has sung Armida before -- in 1993 in Pesaro, Italy.
My only disappointment was that the mime role of Amor did not receive a solo bow. There was a lot to like.
The sets with their giant insects were enchanting. The diminutive Amor made her entrance a la Cirque du Soliel by a curtain hanging from above. She set the atmosphere of enchantment right from the beginning.
Armida requires 6 Rossini tenors. Deborah Voigt had them lined up -- actually only 5 because Barry Banks played two parts -- and asked if anyone in the world could be doing Rossini today. This left an opportunity to plug Joyce DiDonato doing La Donna del Lago in Geneva.
One of my favorite things about this production was the successful integration of soloists, chorus and ballet into a seamless ensemble. Best example was the character Astarotte in the second act singing while standing on the backs of members of the ballet who steadied him and carried him around the stage. It was these demons of the ballet who slunk around like characters from Cats.
The singing was a joy. I actually cried during the tenor trio in Act III. [Odd whooping sounds were heard in the movie theater.] Lawrence Brownlee both looked and sounded heroic. Bravo.
And Renée Fleming was outstanding. I've already seen her walk on water -- Rusalka at SFO -- so nothing really surprises me.
I forgot to mention the exquisite love duets. It was darkness and light, love and revenge, enchantment and desire. Who could ask for more?