This very moment I am listening to the opening music of the second act of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, and it has been performed well thus far. If I were to be a harsh critic, I might say that Patricia Racette, who is singing Cio Cio San for an ill Cristina Gallardo-Domas, lets some of the sixteenth notes run together, but I do not like to be that overbearing and critical for an opera performance. If you read a few chapters of Paul Jackson's book Start-Up at the New Met, a critical history of the Met broadcasts from 1966 to '76, you will invariably hear opera performances in whole new light. One wonders how he could have actually listened to the broadcasts without missing the most important arias because he is so critical of performers, the orchestra, and the chorus. It is an excellent resource for people to learn about how opera ideally sounds, but I would rather enjoy my broadcasts than to spend all of my time comparing it to a "perfect" performance; we have recordings for that sort of thing, and, besides, opera should be more about how each individual likes to hear it sung rather than if it was done perfectly.
Patricia just sang Un bel di to magnificent applause. It was indeed quite beautiful (should I elaborate, SarahB?):the tone was a little lighter than I am used to hearing, but then I have only heard Renee Fleming's recording of the aria and Cristina Gallardo-Domas in a past broadcast, which I unfortunately do not recall at the moment. As I understand it, Renee's lyric voice is not really suited to this role (I do not care. I like her recording anyway.), and I enjoyed Racette's phrasing; it allowed me to hear the aria in a new way, and it was pleasing. For the first act, I marvelled at how all of the singers did not deviate from the score. I shall have to listen to Gheorghiu's new recording of this opera to see how she sings Cio Cio San.
Marcello Giordani, who, it seems, sings any role at the Met, has sung well today also. He and Racette paced each other well in the first act. Usually one will hear the soprano or the tenor going on without the other or cutting off before the other, but Racette and Giordani seem to be in perfect rapport with each other, and that is nice to have in a broadcast performance.
As for the acting, which means so much when comparing performers or guaging a production, I can say nothing since I did not attend the Live in HD event today.
Well, I hope you all like my review of this broadcast of Madama Butterfly. Unless anything like a sudden coughing fit overcomes the soloists or the set falls down on top of them, you all should be abreast of how the remainder of the afternoon will go.