A perfect storm:
1. Rolando Villazon pulls in the sophisticated fans.
2. Anna Netrebko pulls in the gawkers.
3. Netrebko/Villazon is the new Gheorghiu/Alagna of the lyric stage.
4. There are only three Met Rigolettos this month; the rest come next year.
5. Two of the three are weekend performances; one is a Saturday matinee broadcast (the first of the season), and those inevitably sell out.
6. The lone midweek performance on Tuesday evening has attracted impoverished New Yorkers (like Sieglinde) who don't attend weekend events, which are populated mostly by weekend tourists and out-of-towners who can afford increased ticket prices (or who have no choice but).
7. The rush for tickets to these three performances has built a self-perpetuating buzz; "sold-out" rumors trigger actual sell outs every now and then.
8. Lastly, these performances may actually turn out well.
The storm repeats next year, when:
1. Only five of the nine remaining Rigolettos preserve the Netrebko/Villazon pairing.
2. Of the five, three are weekend performances.
3. Placido Domingo conducts all five evenings (and he has a bit of fanbase, I'm told).
4. Nutjobs/bloggers shall come out with ecstatic "reviews" of the December performances; opera queen newbies from all over North America will make winter pilgrimages to Gotham.
You know what to do.
P.S. Why do people insist on calling this opera Rigoletto anyway? The likes of Guelfi and Burchinal certainly aren't keeping people away, no matter how much they suck.