24 January 2005

Reversing Entropy

A recalibration

My day job, which has gracefully allowed me much latitude in life and love, is now calling for major retrenchment. I take a short break from everything else.

21 January 2005

All Blogs are (not) Created Equal

Music 101

I'm learning so so so so so so much from Alex Ross, I feel I should be paying tuition and getting course credits or something.

20 January 2005


Frigid Thursday

I decided to walk around my city to bar myself from reaching for the TV remote. This is the scene at high noon, underground.

Taking such pictures may become illegal. Of course, it is all to "protect" our cherished liberties.

In other news, how can they charge $1.99 for ice on days like this?? This is a sign outside the corner Gristede's:

No TV today

Thank heavens for blogs

This cold winter will last four more years. Anyway, I'm keeping my mind off these dismal events by hanging out with my laptop. First stop this morning is the feast prepared by the "other" NYC opera blogger, Roy "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Wood. He's probably justified that to tell me that, "Sieglinde, I was dishing Fleming before you even had that hot cocoa ready for Siegmund." (However, in response, I would like to point out that I was dishing Liz Smith and Renéééée before Ms. Wood even had her hot, uhm, cocoa ready for Siegmund.) Her borrowed observation regarding the Tebaldi Butterfly recording freaked me out of my cocoas.

Blogworld friend and purveyor of good things MLR directed me to an even more shocking expose [NYMag] on the dearth of single men for Singles' Night at the Met. However, I don't think the “We do get a lot of doctors” rationale substantially accounts for the gender disparity. Could it be more obvious that "The female list was closed, leaving some in tears" is due mostly to the testosterone imbalance caused by a queer abundance at the opera promenade of single men of a more, uhm, choral persuasion (i.e., the likes of Roy "Who Says I Can't Wear This to the Opera" Wood)? By the way, MLR reviews the recent Blythe chest extravaganza at Alice Tully for Newsday, which I'm still not forgiving myself for missing.

TSR and Marcus ask why there isn't more blogchat regarding the passing of Victoria de los Angeles. My partner always likes to point out that he has one singer on his list that I had not seen live (and now never will). It was a late New York City recital; recently I looked through boxes of our saved programs, but I couldn't find a souvenir of his VDLA encounter. But he remembers being thoroughly disarmed by her direct, unaffected style. Yesterday, while cruising the local used CD store, I found a copy of the VDLA La Traviata (EMI, 1960), which oddly I had neither owned or heard previously. She is a unique Violetta. Whereas many singers "sing" Act II, it seemed she spoke her every line. The effect is haunting. Her "Dite alla giovine" was neither heavenly (Fleming) nor utterly anguished (Callas et al.); but more devastating (to my Traviata-seasoned ears) because it holds back like no one else can. It is miraculous.

19 January 2005

Celebration of Freedom???

As if I need another reason to "rearrange" his CDs at Tower

Roberta Knie

The Kundry

"Her four notes, incidentally, sounded dandy," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Knie's Kundry Act III Parsifal responsibilities (consisting of "two moans, a scream, and four sung notes") in their review of the Philly performances of the their orchestra's magnificent Berio/Parsifal pairing. They came to Carnegie Hall to do the same program last evening. I don't know about the four notes (I may have done an equally effective dienen in the shower this morning), but her two moans and scream were appropriately haunting and powerful. She came out with Gurnemanz, took her place and sat in the midst of the violins, shifted and gyrated as the scene pushed gradually, moaned theatrically, shrieked, then stood for her four notes, proceeded to gesture in reaction to Gurnemanz's words, and then upon Parsifal's appearance walked up and gazed eerily at him pretty much through the rest of the music. She had clear "magnetic emanations" (borrowing from the Zucker/Gencer intervista erotica).

I will try to write about the rest of the performance in the coming days. Meanwhile, I've been fascinated by her career recently, which had mostly come and gone before I knew who Wagner was. Fellow blogger Lisa Hirsch sent me a copy of a feature by David Patrick Stearns that appeared in the Inquirer in August 2004. I couldn't provide a link (can't seem to locate it in their web archive), so I will quote extensively:
In her day, you'd have heard opera soprano Roberta Knie at least a mile off, whether singing in the chorus of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in her home state of Oklahoma, in Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, or in Götterdammerung at the famous Bayreuth Festival in Germany.

The 66-year-old Knie (pronounced knee), who so seamlessly blends with the denizens of Philadelphia's gracious Midvale Avenue, talks freely about having sung alongside some of the great opera talents of our time - and about maintaining "my Salome weight" or "my Isolde weight." And she could easily be singing still, because her retirement from performing wasn't prompted by loss of voice or lack of appreciation. In fact, her one commercial recording, a Tristan und Isolde recently issued on DVD, has won her renewed acclaim.


At a time of life when singers consolidate their careers, Knie walked out on Patrice Chereau's then-controversial, now-famous production of Wagner's Ring Cycle in Bayreuth, wrestled with viral pneumonia for three years, and lost a legal tangle with the Met. None of those would necessarily have finished her career.

Then, in 1991, she was diagnosed with a detaching retina. The physical stress of future singing, she was warned, could cause blindness. Immediately, Knie canceled plans to sing the title role in Strauss' Elektra, which might have restored her international standing. Four years ago, she survived colon cancer.


(At home), the room downstairs from the kitchen, where she conducts lessons, is stuffed with posters, photos and shelves of LP recordings. Being there isn't always pleasant for her: "I was going through some songs by Brahms the other night," she said, "and I sat and cried. There's all this wonderful music I never sang."


Her U.S. career had successes, but also her most conspicuous failures. She lost her voice in the final moments of a 1981 Tristan at the Met and had to speak the final scene. A Houston Turandot was even more vocally compromised. Finally ridding herself of pneumonia, Knie was hired for the Met's 1984 tour. Despite a successful rehearsal - and those who heard her in practice rooms verify that she was in fine voice - she was fired for reasons that made little sense, and when the American Guild of Musical Artists took on the Met, she lost on a technicality. Retreating to Europe, she found that managers were afraid to touch her for fear of crossing the Met.


But while walking her dog on a cold night in Graz (where she was teaching), she kept seeing gnats where there were none. It was her retina detaching, and when her doctor told her to choose between seeing and singing, the decision took 15 seconds: "I'd rather read than sing. Think of how much beauty there is to see that I haven't seen." Luck takes many forms: Had the Met incident not put her career on hiatus, Knie might now be blind.

18 January 2005

Gender disparity

True Love at the opera house

From this month's issue of the e-newsletter Highnotes from the Metropolitan Opera, a little note called "A Call for Single Men over 40" strikes me as "queer" on so many levels.

Meanwhile, I'm preparing to head to Carnegie Hall for some Parsifal, wind chill at zero Fahrenheit.

And oh, I'm loving my first iPod. But the sad thing is, a couple of complete Rings is already 10% of my gigabytes. This is a problem.

17 January 2005


The FedEx guy had something for me this morning

14 January 2005


Brotherly Love

East Rock News. The memories I have of New Haven are mostly terrifying, so I was heartened to see something good come out of that place.

Carnegie Hall News. Christoph Eschenbach comes to New York with his Philly gang for a concert Parsifal, Act III on January 18. In the Philly Orchestra website, meteorite Roberta Knie is listed as the penitent Kundry; on the other hand, Carnegie Hall's website snubs her. Kundry, of course, while very much part of the action, sings only one line in Act III. "Dienen ... dienen!" (To serve ... to serve.) I wonder if La Knie has been told that it will be a concert performance. What's that? Whatever happened to Baby Roberta Knie?, Enzo Bordello at parterre asks the same question in his delish New Orleans memoirs. It is a must read. (I ask, whatever happened to Baby Bill?)

The Hours

A reckoning

Prompted by the unease that came with "Compression/Expansion," I set out yesterday to count all the opera/vocal sets in The Collection. I had to be helped from the floor after falling in shock. In various forms (original or otherwise), I discovered around 1700 pieces of CD with studio recordings of complete operas, 2800 of live performances, and about 1200 recital and vocal discs. The total of 5700 translates into a staggering 6175 hours of song (at a reasonable 65 minutes per disc).


If I decide to listen to all of it once through, kick it off at the moment the Met season begins in September, and sit in front of the speakers 24/7, I won't be available for brunch till after the curtain falls on the closing opera of its season in May. If I compromise and allow the recommended daily 8-hour sleep, the endeavor would exceed the calendar year by 20 days. Re-entering the real world (welcome back, you've been away a long time): given that on a typical day I listen to about three to four hours of opera, I'd need at least 4 1/2 years to go through it all exactly once. A further dose of possibility would be to supplement whatever I really want to hear (Pelleas these days, for e.g.) with one disc from The Collection every day. The supreme odyssey will exceed 15 years.

OK, it doesn't escape the bitchy that this all happens under the assumption that I never buy a disc again in my life.

Get real.

12 January 2005


Size matters

In searching for a replacement DVD player over the weekend, I allowed those Circuit City hustlers to manhandle me into purchasing an upgrade. So what I came out of the store with was an affordable DVD recorder (Panasonic DMR-E55), which I've been playing with the past few days (explains the short absence). This morning, I'm transferring the Met telecast of Leontyne Price's farewell Aida (look at the January 3, 1985 listing here). It's early in Act I, and Fiorenza Cossotto's Amneris is already bitchy.

(As I recall, only Cossotto got the confetti at the curtain calls. Why not for Leontyne too? Dat bitch engineered it all.) Yesterday, I digitized the great moments of opera on Ed Sullivan, broadcast by PBS a few years back. The last segment featured Renata Tebaldi and Franco Corelli in a full-throated Andrea Chenier finale from 1966. The backdrop was the facade of the new Met at Lincoln Center; Tebaldi looked radiantly glamorous in her pink to-do and towering hair-do (in a 60s kind of way); Corelli is unquestionably every opera queen's latin wet dream (in any decade).

I'm loving my DVD recorder. The amount of storage space that this enterprise will potentially save me is astounding. Or perhaps not, since it is universal law that with every compression comes an inevitable, thorough expansion.

My burgeoning library of opera is both young and vast. Ten years ago, I owned less than ten studio recordings of opera. Among them:

  • Joan Sutherland's Turandot (Back then, I thought Zubin Mehta was a god.)
  • a Tebaldi/Bergonzi La Boheme highlights disc (my first opera purchase, senior year in college, 1992, from the collegetown record store, a move inspired by the film Moonstruck)
  • the Malfitano Salome, just released (because she looked hot on the cover)
  • the Barbirolli Scotto Butterfly (spoiled from the beginning)
  • an Otello with Scotto and Levine (long story ...)
  • of course the De Sabata Callas Tosca (but the harsh mono irritated me)

There was the lone live recording, the Callas/Di Stefano 1955 Scala La Traviata that came with a bonus (my partner!). Today, I own about 6 studio and about 25+ live Traviata sets (spanning 1939 to 2004); I have all the Callas EMI sets, in the first pressing version (glossy libretti, heavy paper; see an in-depth examination of her various incarnations here); I don't even listen to Turandot any more (apart from the Sutherland, my 4 studio and maybe a dozen live sets are nearly pristine); I have thousands of CDs, more than twenty complete Rings, even a copy of Florence Foster Jenkins (The Glory of the Human Voice). Where is the level of saturation? The easy access to such pleasures can't be good for the soul.

08 January 2005

Sieglinde Uncut

Regarding the NYT link

A New York Times article on Renée-blogging excerpted an entry from these Diaries regarding the just concluded Rodelinda run at the Met.

I actually gave our dear Renée more love than the article might suggest. You can read the complete post here.

07 January 2005

I swear to Karita!

Ornithological musings

This morning's play list: Met broadcasts of yesteryear. (Can't you tell I'm missing the gilded prison, a.k.a. my second home?)

As Siegfried Jerusalem exclaims: "Tanz für mich, Salome!", I am visited:

A mockingbird bathing in our birdbath!

Then, as Karita Mattila utters: "Ich bin bereit, Tetrarch":

Yesterday afternoon, a mockingbird (could be the same frisky one) swooped down onto two mourning doves having a quiet drink from the bath, and (to my utter horror) a mini-cockfight of sorts ensued. There's water for everyone, I thought, please don't fight ... but the mockingbird seemed to have claimed the territory, and moreover what's a peace-loving dove to do but acquiesce and fly away.

Eventually, after many "Gib mir den Kopf des Jokanaan!", Salome gets her way anyway.

[Meanwhile, Eminem, in his ditty Mockingbird, declares: "And if that mockingbird don't sing and that ring don't shine / I'mma break that birdies neck / I'd go back to the jewler who sold it to ya / And make him eat every carat don't f* with dad (haha)." ]

Too much violence surrounding mockingbirds.

In related news, Anna Kournikova Netrebko (can't possibly mock this birdie) is appearing on David Letterman Tuesday, relayed to us via opera-l by a fellow-blogger Rosenkavalier817, a budding singer and fellow baseball fan. The layers of humor and subtext are infinite! We'll all be watching.

06 January 2005

The Devil's Workshop

Surfing, Part I

A favorite pastime, image-googling various things under the Florida sun, led me this morning to the website of one Badiene Magaziner, which contains, among other highlights, a jarring picture of Walkyrean violation:

I confess to having no familiarity with the madame's art or career, but the picture evidently speaks a thousand words.

The picture also recalls my last meaningful heterosexual act. The city was Verona, the year was 2000. I found myself at the courtyard of the tour-approvedHouse of the Capulets, where a bronze statue of Juliet stood, tarnished by the elements save her right breast, which remained golden in the Italian sun.

At another moment, after witnessing a large group of 10-year-olds (must be on some school-related excursion) rush up to rub it from all sides, I was told (by Frommer, perhaps) that the act brings the sure blessing of true love. Not wanting to miss out on anything (but puzzled by a 10-year-old's interest in love, much less true), I touched too. The breast was cold; I felt out of place.

Here you'll find a picture of Chris and Andy (don't know them) bisexually abusing the tradition in 2002.

Even ladies are allowed to touch. Here's Sheila partaking of true love (don't know her either).

Casa Giulietta is at Via Cappello 23, Verona. Time Out suggests beginning a particular tour of Verona at Piazza Bra.

In related news, The Times reports that another long-standing tradition at the same location is evolving to keep up with the times. "Lovers who plaster amorous letters on 'the House of Juliet' in Verona are causing such damage to its medieval walls that in future they will have to express their passion via text messages and the internet." But a quick google search didn't locate such a site. They may still be grappling with impossible issues: "It was unclear whether the electronic system could cope with the characters of Oriental languages for Verona’s many Asian visitors as well as English and European languages."

Parting thought: what about a virtual breast of Juliet, for those who can't travel but are nonetheless deserving of true love? (Enterprising net-techies: imagine the traffic; breastofjuliet.com is still available.)

05 January 2005


The last major label complete opera studio recording (maybe)

The NYT Arts page article on the death of studio opera recordings fails to acknowledge their primary destroyer: the CD copier (paradoxically, the perfect recreator) and its intrepid enabler, the www. The recording industry has failed to protect its property from technology's indiscriminate onslaught, and one needs only to look at their personal CD collections for empirical proof. The causes are many: (1) Major labels have to compete with individual sellers on sites like amazon.com, often losing the contest (e.g., the Voigt/Moser DG Tristan is $45.99 new and from $32 "new"/used). (2) Auction sites like eBay generate the legal exchange of recordings (certainly abound with CD copying), profitting everyone but the artists and the record labels. (3 & 4) Friends who call to say "Hey, I just got the new X, and dat bitch Y sings the f* out of that high C, you wanna copy?" often got X from used CD stores like Academy Records or Princeton Record Exchange: licit and illicit commerce again sovereign from the record labels' bottom lines. We (the overconsuming public) share the blame for beating the system; but more crucially, the dying record labels are guilty of the lack of creativity to stop it, or better, the guts to rework the foundations before too late. And now it's too late.

(Meanwhile, the discussion of the Domingo/Stemme T&I fraud will come later.)

Edit: Alex Ross suspects that this "'final opera recording ever' is simply EMI's marketing plan for this particular release," while highlighting the burgeoning economy of smaller record labels like Harmonia Mundi, Astrée, and Virgin Classics to lessen the gloom-and-doom. But somehow I'm still not appeased.

04 January 2005

Outbelting the Swedish Songbird

Florid(ian) sounds

After rousing my senses with Madonna's album American Life this morning (I use no coffee in my life), I shifted seamlessly to the art of two equally strong presences of a previous generation, Birgit Nilsson (the Swedish Songbird, as per the towel story told at the Jimmy gala) and Martha Mödl, in the scene of Waltraute's visitation in Götterdämmerung (Philips release of Karl Böhm's 1967 Bayreuth Ring). Midway through Brünnhilde's exposition, I was startled off my laptop by the most intense, high-pitched chorus of nature veiling the trees that surround our back porch.

Birgit was easily drowned by this more immediate visitation. A quick and dirty consult with a bird pamphlet (everyone's an amateur bird watcher) revealed that we'd just been called upon by thousands of European starlings. The Museum of Natural Sciences (North Carolina) provides the requisite romantic NYC connection: "Originally from Europe, Sturnus vulgaris was introduced in New York's Central Park in 1890, reportedly by someone who wished to establish all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works in the New World. From that release of 100 starlings has descended a United States population of 140 million to 200 million."

A sample of their song can be found here. Multiplied by about 10,000 and one gets a feel of what we have to contend with down here (along with the 75 degree weather, relentless blue skies, fresh gulf breeze, grouper sandwiches, ...). Meanwhile, a Hummer passing through the neighborhood precipitated their flight to the next island:

03 January 2005

Better Late than Later

My Top 10 List of Memorable Performances of the Met's 2004


Roberto Alagna, Werther in Werther: The year 2004 opened for me with a Werther built by a rare mix of delicacy and passion too painful to behold. Alagna's stage presence and vocal color are perfect for this tragic role. The Met ought to pirate Alagna from the clutches of European houses.

David Daniels, Bertarido in Rodelinda: His performance proves that countertenoring is a legitimate vocal art, and not just a Barnum & Bailey spectacle. Bertarido's largo arias are among the most beautiful I've heard from the Met stage in recent years.

Renée Fleming, Violetta in La Traviata: Technically a 2003 event, but the Traviata troupe came back in March of 2004 for three performances (including the Saturday broadcast), qualifying her Violetta as among my 10 best this year. Try as they may to discredit her formidable artistry, La Diva Renée, in the coming years, will be regarded rightfully as among the most memorable Violetta interpreters in recorded history.

Juan Diego Florez, Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri: This is an easy choice to make. Florez is the sweetest, purest, most joyous thing I've heard this year.

Ben Heppner, Otello in Otello: A surprise selection, but I think he may have even topped his brilliant Les Troyens Aeneas from two years ago with this terrifying Otello. The broadcast this coming Saturday should sparkle amidst many great Otello recordings of the past, due also to a touching Desdemona in Barbara Frittoli and nuanced conducting by James Levine.

Karita Mattila, Salome in Salome: Everything has already been said, printed, posted, screamed, dreamed, lionized, memorialized, canonized ... her Salome is easily the most miraculous achievement of the year.

Adrienne Pieczonka, Lisa in Queen of Spades: The thrilling vocal power she exhibited as Lisa blew some of the circuitry in my ears, but quite pleasurably and with much gratitude. Unfortunately, she had none of it for her Sieglindes this season: could have been the most orgasmic event for these bitchy Diaries!

Sondra Radvanovsky, Elena in I Vespri Siciliani: Still a work in progress, but already making memorable strides, Sondra has the natural talent and distinctive timbre to plow through the many Verdi heroines currently languishing in mediocrity.

Gerhard Siegel, Mime in Siegfried: I'm not a connoisseur of male voices (a handicap I intend to correct in the coming years), but in my limited breadth, I was still struck by Siegel's vivid creation of Mime, a character I often overlook when visiting various Rings on records.

Deborah Voigt, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser: The girl has lost the poundage (80 so they say...), but kept the silver of her voice. As Elisabeth, she continues her historic tour of the great Wagnerian heldensopranos. I await her overdue Isolde at the Met, and anticipate with a mix of fear and excitement her daring ascendance as Brünnhilde.

Honorable Mentions

Elisabeth Bishop, Venus in Tannhäuser
Stephanie Blythe, Eduige in Rodelinda
Olga Borodina, Isabella in L'Italiana in Algeri
Marianne Cornetti, Amneris in Aida
Renée Fleming, Rodelinda in Rodelinda
Barbara Frittoli, Desdemona in Otello
Thomas Hampson, Wolfram in Tannhäuser
Anja Harteros, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni
Vesselina Kasarova, Charlotte in Werther
Bejun Mehta, Unulfo in Rodelinda
James Morris, Wotan/Der Wanderer in Der Ring
Susan Neves, Abigaille in Nabucco
Leo Nucci, Monforte in I Vespri Siciliani
Peter Seiffert, Tannhäuser in Tannhäuser
Deborah Voigt, Sieglinde in Die Walküre

01 January 2005

LiveBlogging by the Beach

Metropolitan Opera's Rodelinda, New Year's Day radio broadcast

[1:00pm] Limited resources: 31 kbps phone line connection, portable receiver; so this would be a macro type liveblog, with updates limited by poor technology. But the weather! Florida-sunny, 75 degrees, slight gulf breeze. My pores are happy.

[1:05pm] Good to hear Bejun Mehta is present. Now the music begins. In my mind, I picture Reneéééée in bed in chains, but the hetero in me doesn't stir even slightly. Now she moans, and strangely the homo in me is awakened.

[1:12pm] Renée sashays through the entrance "Ho pertudo". Her voice spreads richly around notes, doesn't cut cleanly. Gradually, we learn to love the Beautiful Voice, buttery warts and all. But WOW, the diva's bravura aria "L'empio rigor del fato" sounds fabulous on the radio! (In the house, it's somewhat weak and straining to keep up with the harpsichord metronome.)

[1:25pm] Even Kobie van Rensburg's "Io gia t'amai" sounds crisp. (The poor quality of recent broadcasts may indeed be WQXR's fault-- more on this later, but WUSF in Tampa is giving me gorgeous love right now!)

[1:27pm] Stephanie Blythe's "Lo faro" takes my breath away. I have no words.

[1:31pm] John Relyea sounds nice, but viewing him enhances the whole Garibaldo experience, in my humble opinion. OK, I expect the "divine" Margaret Juntwait to describe his physique in detail during his curtain call.

[1:38pm] My favorite part of the opera so far: Bertarido's entrance aria ... Oh no,my worst fear: David Daniels is the radio's first casualty. In the house, his "Dove sei, amato bene" is among the most serene things I've heard on that stage (trust me), but the radio turns him back into a mere mortal. Every time he utters "vieni l'alma," he silences every countertenor critic in the auditorium; right now he sounds like he's crooning Leontyne Price badly.

[1:52pm] My partner is serving lunch, and the appetizer of grilled teriyaki shrimp wrapped in bacon is just in time for Renée's "Morrai si l'empia," which the diva dips in rich teriyaki sauce and wraps with the same amount of bacon.

[1:59pm] Welcome back, Bejun. A few rough patches during his Act I Aria di Unulfo: you have to rely on the pirates of his performances earlier in the run to get a better feel of his, uhm, tasty talents.

[2:03pm] Daniels ends the act with a cloudy "Confusa si miri." The broadcast makes him sound like a bad falsetto without much body and support. The radio lies.

[2:10pm] Intermission feature, something about Renée crying over Joan Sutherland CD recordings of Rodelinda ... an inane discussion of large-house acoustics, without acknowledging the obvious ... now there's a Wadsworth lovefest ... vibrato as mere tool for effect? isn't it a natural affect of the pushed/sustained voice? I'm puzzled ... maybe I need more baconed shrimp.

[2:28pm] Renée: Handel is sexy. Now she's talking about agreeing to the slaying of her son. She is wonderfully insightful.

[2:42pm] Enough of that cute intermission ditty. Now we begin Act II with applause for the richly appointed set.

[2:45pm] Whenever Blythe sings "cangero" down there, I tingle down there.

[2:52pm] Renée earns her afternoon pay with the fireworks of "Spietati, io vi giurai." This aria justifies her choice to bring Rodelinda (among a number of deserving Handel works) to New York. The high note (was it a D-natural?) startles the blue jays in our bird bath.

[3:09pm] Unulfo's reclining "Fra tempeste funeste" is among my fave parts of the opera. Isn't it yours too??

[3:15pm] Daniels redeems some honor during his "Con rauco mormorio," but still his hooty sound is emphasized by the close miking. He is today's unquestioned loser on radio.

[3:27pm] "Ritorna o caro": Renée's ice cream trills are probably the lone authentic trilling in existence today. The orchestra is magnificent, and the conductor Harry Bicket is a treasure.

[3:33pm] While the radio doesn't do Daniels any favors, it flatters van Rensburg significantly. His "Tuo drudo e mio rivale," while competent in the house, is exquisite this afternoon. His dry patches are evened out, his accuracy is exaggerated.

[3:37pm] It's "Io t'abbraccio" time. Can't type now, sorry.

[3:44pm] During some of the "dal mio divide," Daniels and Fleming's timbre become indistinguishable. This is some historic singing. The curtain falls on Act II.

[3:49pm] Opera Quiz. Zzzzzzz. Nothing more boring than boring opera queens. Except maybe opera-queen-wannabe women.

[4:10pm] Act III begins. With "Un zeffiro spiro," Bejun completes Unulfo's three sweet arias beautifully.

[4:14pm] Handel must have hated the bitch who first sang Eduige--"Quanto piu fiera" is the lamest aria in this opera by far.

[4:16pm] Was that applause for the horse?? In the five Rodelindas that I saw, we never once applauded any animal.

[4:24pm] Two grown men singing like girls being broadcast live worldwide: oh how far we've come in our struggle for equality.

[4:26pm] Renée sobs through "Se'l mio duol non e si forte." In other news, no significant matches in a google search for "Renée Fleming" and "subtle."

[4:40pm] I suggest a bathroom break before we all **** in the proverbial pants for the "Vivi, tiranno" extravaganza to happen in minutes. (Don't worry, Grimoaldo's doing "pur dorme contento" about a zillion times in this aria.) I'm going myself.

[4:42pm] In a real swordfight between Daniels and Relyea, who'd you think'll win??

[4:44pm] The "Vivi, tiranno" show rolls into town. Daniels is magnificent.

[4:51pm] Not to be outdone in the primadonna department, Renée plows through "Mio caro bene!" with much élan and an exuberant top note (a high Z-sharp?).

[4:56pm] The ensemble ends a wonderful afternoon of grand baroque. Kisses to dear Renée for bringing this treat to the Met. Next I want her to flex her gluteus maxima for Vanessa. Now wouldn't that be a glorious counterpunch?