I adore husband-and-wife performing teams, especially when one or both of them might be a screwball. Especially an operatic screwball, which is probably the best kind there is. Alas! While I have heard many tales of weirdness about the famed duo of Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, nothing particularly odd took place at the Met last night, save the fact that Gheorghiu, for all her loveliness, is the single most uncomfortable stage presence I have ever seen. Which is to say, she seemed to have no idea what to do with her body; e.g., where to stand or even how to do it. Is it true that she doesn't show up for rehearsals? Even so, hasn't she been playing this role for over a decade? And aren't her costumes almost fabulous enough to carry themselves? And shouldn't standing make sense all on its own? It's possible she was bored, or maybe she was trying too hard, I couldn't tell because for $16.50 you sit way up top (so as to be closer to the lord, I guess) and without a pair of high-powered bird binoculars like Sarah's, the stage is in some faraway land made up of little people with very loud voices.
Still, she was lovely, and Alagna was strong and noble and very, very sad, they both have gorgeous voices and while the whole thing is basically Traviata minus the coughing, the second act is so romantic (who wouldn't want to fall in love in a beer hall?), and together they were an absolute joy. (I did have a little trouble being emotionally connected at the end, however, because during their final scene—in which they are both sobbing and stricken with grief, saying arrivederci forever, baby—Alagna was wearing a sweater vest.)
Also, the comic relief (of Marius Brenciu and Lisette Oporesa as a poet and the maid he loves) was sweetly comic and much relieving, and on the whole a real bundle of fun. Plus it's pretty! And melancholy and French/Italian, and while leading the life of A Kept Woman is still no picnic, at least nobody dies of consumption or being dragged behind a prison cart! So I'm putting this one at the top of my list for the season so far.
I mean, holy good gods almighty, give a listen to this. It is called something like "I Am Puccini and Aren't You Lucky?":