Ladies of Spain: The Met’s Final 2020-21 Streaming Program (for Parterre Box)

Cameron Kelsall: The Metropolitan Opera season, such as it was, concluded not on the stage at Lincoln Center but in the gilded jewel box of the Versailles Royal Opera, where Isabel Leonard, Ailyn Perez and Nadine Sierra offered a recital under the cheeky banner of “the Three Divas.” The Met has been offering these concerts since last July—usually from luxe European locales, and usually featuring the day’s top singers accompanied by piano—as a stop-gap during the coronavirus pandemic, but general manager Peter Gelb optimistically proclaimed this “likely the last of the series.” Although the prospect of live performance in the opera house this fall remains an open question due to ongoing labor disputes, there’s little doubt that rising vaccination rates and falling Covid cases spell an imminent return to the opera house. Glory be! That said, I’ve enjoyed these streamed recitals, warts and all, and always appreciate the chance to watch performers let their hair down, so to speak. This final concert captured many of the positive and negative aspects of the series, wouldn’t you say, David?

David Fox: I agree—positives and negatives both. In the current spirit of future optimism, let’s start with the positives. All three of these singers have superior vocal gifts, and are also—even by today’s current standards for good-looking opera stars—exceptional stage glamour. Among the group, Sierra and Leonard in particular sounded in peak form, with Leonard’s mezzo having a gorgeous caramel color that gave the voice more character and grounding than I’ve heard previously. Sierra too has an unusually warm timbre for someone who began as a lyric, and here even the repertoire that stretched her—Donna Anna’s “Non mi dir,” for example—was within her vocal means. I’m less convinced by Perez’s transition to heavier repertoire: her singing was a mix of lovely moments and awkward ones. But even though none of these three singers match the marquee names like Anna Netrebko and Joyce DiDonato that we’ve had before in this series, it’s a lucky company that has them on the roster. I wish I had equally positive feelings about the actual music-making here, but that I found often frustrating…

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