Rolando Villazon not apparently in his very best form but La Cieca is very impressed with a) his willingness to sing out and take chances even when he is less than 100% and b) his well-supported legato that is the basis of even his most vehement singing. Anna Netrebko found a way to interpret Gilda as a lyric. The sound a little glassy when close-miked, but the singing always has meaning. Very interesting how she slowly straightened out the tone as the character died, a little less vibrato on each phrase. If Joe Volpe is wondering why more people aren’t willing to spend $250 at the opera, he can take a hard look at Carlo Guelfi. No voice! (as Charlie Handelman would say) and so he (Guelfi, not Handelman) tricks out the performance with whoops and gasps and the whole Benoit shtik. Ascher Fisch knows how to make Verdi go; La Cieca would quibble only with his eclectic choice of cuts. Though goodness knows no one would want to hear Guelfi faking yet another verse of “Ah veglia o donna.” It warmed the cockles of this old heart to hear such campery on the Quiz; Stephen Blier is such a dear mad old thing. And if the rest of Volpe’s book is anything like the pap he read today, they’re going to have to give away insulin with every copy. And what’s the deal with him sucking up to Renee Fleming — is she supposed to serve as an example of his masterful casting abilities? (La Cieca was at that Pirata and the poor dear was pretty damn near inaudible, and that hysterical Susannah you all saw!) Was that business about the “heart shaped face and melting eyes” creepy or what? La Cieca was totally ready to hear Uncle Joe go on about Renaay’s “pert pouting breasts” and “firm supple thighs!” Oh, and listen for the claque next week during American Tragedy: they sure know when those arias dribble to an end!