As usual when it’s a Fleming Flapper doing the writing, everything is everyone else‘s fault: poor Renée just sort of wanders in off the street and all this stuff keeps happening to her:

This is the problem with simulcasts: things like repeated close-ups of an awkwardly vogueing diva can steal the focus away from the music and the voice. Add the souped up acoustics, which boosts any sound and denies any reward for true fortes, and you get a distorted view. The live performance is, indeed, a unique thrill.

. . . . at Violetta and Alfredo’s country house, Renée Fleming felt obliged to show off all her skill and sheer vocal beauty immediately, so she mostly wallowed in self-indulgent sighing and sliding and honey-on-caramel vocalization. No character development here: it’s a show for the show. But we still gladly ate it up . . . .

At the Cours la Reine, Renée tried to channel Anna Netrebko, with little success. It’s a brainless scene anyway, so she’s entitled to appear brainless . . . . Renée caressed Massenet’s sensual tunes with uncommon style, so that it was easy to ignore the monstrous Karl Lagerfeld drapery and that hair. (Whoever formulated those wigs must really hate Renée’s guts.)

. . . .

The final scene of Capriccio was the highlight of the evening. Two things distracted a bit: again, the John Galliano frock, especially that awful coat, and again the hair; and Renée touching herself way too much. Granted, it’s a monologue with significant orchestral interludes, so that the Gräfin, lost in thought, is left raw and exposed to inhabit the big mansion of a set . . . . It may have been that Renée was compelled to physicalize what should have been obvious had the audience seen the entire opera.