New Kid on the Plaza Drammy writes:

April 9, 2009. A traditional Otto Schenk production featuring Diana Damrau as Gilda and who cares but.. Frizza conducting, Viktoria Vizin as Maddalena, Calleja as the Duke, Frontali as Rigoletto, Aceto as Sparafucile.

Stellar performances from the entire cast, excepting poor Mr Frontali. The set was phenomenal – this coming from someone who has now seen 3 operas live to date…i.e. I’ve low standards and I can’t stomach Regie – yet. The first set change – from Duke’s court to shady courtyard – took a whopping 5 minutes and people were getting frisky. I wondered when Gelb would be coming out to announce the death of a certain principal and her replacement.  Singing in general was EXCELLENT. Tenor and coloratura soprano outdid themselves. Damrau lost a lot of air during “Addio addio” and dropped out a few lines…and according to my lovely friend Luis Murillo the tenor opted out of the optional high D-flat. Frontali sang “Si vendetta” too piano, according to Luis again [I know nothing about music so I’ll just defer to the real singer, namely Luis]. I didn’t really like Frontali – have been spoiled by the Dresden Rigoletto featuring Mr. Zeljko Lucic.

“Caro nome” was so good my hands were shaking and I couldn’t hold the binoculars straight. Hey, don’t judge me. How can such exquisite coloratura passages and such silvery timbre come out of a human being?! Still don’t believe she is for real, anyways. “A nymph or a goddess?” – Lo frate ‘nnamorato. Most hilarious pickup line ever, and very relevant. “Bella figlia dell’amore,” the quartet, was damn amazing. I rather liked the duettos with Gilda and Rigoletto ; Gilda and Duke. Hell, I rather liked anything and everything involving Gilda. I basically fixated on Gilda during “La donna e mobile,” because Calleja has neither the dramatic presence nor the eye-candy-ness to trump Frl. Damrau.

Alas, Damrau’s costumes were not quite up to par. Had a baggy blue number all the way up to her neck during Act I, switched to a -very- lowcut white number after ducal rape…was this a symbol of newfound putain-hood? As curtain closed on Act II, her girls were quite literally popping out of the lowcut frilly white number. Same issue she had in Tucker Gala “Glitter & Be Gay”. I wonder if this constant boob-tastic exhibition is on purpose. L’attaque du décolleté, n’est-ce pas? Act III, she had on a Red Riding Hood’s male alter ego’s outfit. Last outfit was actually decent, IMHO. The dress in the blue room Dresden Rigoletto was definitely plus sexy, en tout cas.

Someone in a parterre box, stage left, was snapping flash photos at curtain calls. The usher lady on Dress Circle was unkind and snapped at us when we were on the wrong floor. We wandered into Starr Theatre before we got to the Met. The Met is really posh. The Met program sucks compared to Chicago Lyric’s – craptastic little mag without all the gratuitous targeted-at-wealthy-dowager advertisements of Renee Fleming pimping a Rolex or a bottle of La Voce. The Met museum and Met shop are both pretty cool. Chicago Lyric take a leaf outta the book, please. I didn’t see the Chagalls – where are they, incidentally?

So I run down from the grand tier box 39 towards the stage door, getting a few nasty looks on the way. I was the first there, but then figured I was in the wrong place so I ran around those tunnels blindly for a bit. Then I returned and there were two Quebecois. Snobs, both of them. I ask in French, “Do you come from France?” [To be fair to me, they didn’t sound nasal =at all=!]. Them: NON, [stupide] … nous venons de Quebec. Then they proceeded to ignore me for the rest of the time – but what gives? I probably look like a rabid fan and a philistine to the untrained eye. When in reality, one ought to admit that I know next to nothing about music and have questionable taste – Callas is bad, giusti dei.

Well anyways, a nice fellow young woman [not yet on Medicare] came up and we chatted while I worked myself up into that obligatory pre-diva frenzy, tapping my heels loudly on the floor. Fairly early on, Viktoria Vizin came out. That lady is -tall-, must be 5’ 10’’, je te jure. Her dress was the only hot piece of clothing in the entire opera – the duetto with her and the duke was leggy and smokin’. It was weird hearing perfect English [one was convinced she was an Italian dancing girl of questionable virtue] come out of her mouth as she bid all the creepers adieu and briskly made her way to the parking lot. She didn’t make nice with anyone and some guy came out shortly after Ms. Vizin and was all “A star is coming…wait, you [creepers] let her through? Wow.” Then later another orchestra member came and sniffed at Lois or Linda and said “She’s a regular.”

Back to stage door – Linda and Lois made their way in too, right on cue. One of them – I think Lois, was let in backstage by some fellow ol’ lady. Security served her a plate of rejection and she wandered back out shortly. Schadenfreude ensued. The line began to grow in 3 directions, as people clumped around the tenor and baritone. There was a pretentious young man in a suit who said loudly “I plan on singing at the Met one day. I am a singer too.” I hope he’s a tenor…HA. And later, this gem from him to Frl. Damrau, “So why did you choose to retire [Queen of the Night]? Was this decision artistic or stylistic?” My internal monologue: “Wow, quel stupide!” Damrau gave her canned “it’s too intense” response.

I said Bravo inaudibly to Frontali and he said Grazie!

When Damrau came out, I blurted out ‘Oh my God!’ as the people began to clump around her. She was accompanied by a big-eyed, overbearing man with a Riccardo Muti haircut. Looked Italian or Spanish, but apparently I’m wrong and she has no Italian/Spanish boyfriend. I rushed over there and stood awkwardly for a bit…then she signed my copy of Des Knaben Wunderhorn. I was speechless. I then blurted “OMG can I take a picture with you?” In that voice one employs with very sensitive, very special small children, she says “Of course.” And then the mahvelous K. took a pic. I then rushed out so as to not keep R. waiting.