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Viewpoint: The Glitter and the Gold

By F. Paul Driscoll

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Joyce DiDonato as the Met Gala’s Semiramide
© Beth Bergman
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The Glimmerglass Festival is located in Otsego County, NY, not Oswego County, as stated in “Safe Haven” (June).

THE METROPOLITAN OPERA'S gala celebration, on May 7, of the company’s fifty years at Lincoln Center was a night to remember; for more than five hours, the Met offered a look at performers and performances past, present and future in a program that extended from Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra—the opera that inaugurated the Met’s home at Lincoln Center, in 1966—to Thomas Adès’s Tempest, which entered the Met’s repertoire less than five years ago, in autumn 2012.

The orchestra and chorus, conducted at various points in the evening by Marco Armiliato, James Levine and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, sounded spectacular, and the solo turns by the all-star cast were generally glorious, demonstrating—at least to my satisfaction—that truly wonderful singing is as much a part of the Met’s present as it was a part of its past. In the 1890s, Adelina Patti and Nellie Melba were considered the supreme interpreters of Rossini’s Semiramide, but I doubt if either lady ever sang “Bel raggio lusinghier” with the imagination, daring and sheer sex appeal that Joyce DiDonato brought to that aria on May 7. The other show-stopping marvels on offer that night included Javier Camarena’s heroically ebullient “Ah! mes amis”; Piotr Beczala’s dashing “Quando le sere al placido”; Elı¯na Garancˇa’s luscious, slow-burning traverse of “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix”; a beautiful Bohème garret scene from Joseph Calleja and Sonya Yoncheva; and Anna Netrebko’s charismatic conquest of “Un bel dì.” There were equally mesmerizing moments of elegant refinement from Stephanie Blythe and David Daniels, who revisited “Son nata a lagrimar,” from Giulio Cesare, and from Matthew Polenzani and Susan Graham in the magnificent love duet from Les Troyens. 

In an evening filled with well-deserved ovations, the loudest and longest applause went to an unannounced guest—Dmitri Hvorostovsky. The great baritone, whose ongoing treatment for cancer has kept him absent from the Met stage since October 2015, sang Rigoletto’s “Cortigiani” and brought down the house. spacer 

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The opinions expressed in OPERA NEWS do not necessarily represent the views of The Metropolitan Opera Guild or The Metropolitan Opera. 

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