9th April 2012
Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur from Covent Garden, Juan Diego Flórez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato in Rossini's Le Comte Ory from the Metropolitan Opera.
Production by Bartlett Sher; recorded in 2011
In spring 2011, the first-ever performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera of Rossini's Le Comte Ory brought standing ovations and critical-acclaim. The spectacular trio of Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato ignited vocal and theatrical fireworks.
Le Comte Ory tells the story of a libidinous and cunning nobleman who disguises himself first as a hermit and then as a nun ("Sister Colette") in order to gain access to the virtuous Countess Adele, whose brother is away at the Crusades. The 2011 Met production was directed by the Tony Award-winning Broadway director Bartlett Sher, who in recent years has also staged Il barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffman for the Met. Sher presented the action as an opera within an opera, updated the action by a few centuries and giving the costume designer, Catherine Zuber, the opportunity to create some particularly extravagant headgear. Juan Diego Florez starred as the title role while Diana Damrau plays his love interest, Countess Adele, and Joyce DiDonato was in breeches as his pageboy Isolier. The trio had appeared in Sher's production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.
The New York Times praised "the terrific cast", citing Damrau's "lustrous, agile coloratura soprano voice, and charisma galore" and describing how DiDonato, "who sang with plush sound and impeccable passagework, sent top notes soaring and conveyed all the swagger of a smitten page."
The Financial Times named Florez, "a bel-canto paragon virtually without peer. He attacks and/or floats top tones with laughing ease, phrases with slender grace and exudes charm even when impersonating a singing nun". The Wall Street Journal said: "It was a treat to hear Mr. Florez navigate the vocal extremes of the role, popping out high C's while adopting a rascally but winning demeanor."
Conducted with verve and finesse by Rossini specialist Maurizio Benini, the production also features the stylish French baritone Stephane Degout as Ory's bibulous conspirator Raimbaud (quite a change from his previous Met role - Debussy's gentle Pelleas), charismatic Italian bass Michele Pertusi as the Count's long-suffering Tutor, and, formidable as Adele's housekeeper Ragonde, the Swedish dramatic mezzo Susanne Resmark.