The Met's website reports that Bryn Terfel is out for the season's last Falstaff (tonight), to be replaced by Louis Otey, about whom I know little. That's too bad. Otey may yet triumph, but what everyone -- most eloquently the NYC Opera Fanatic -- had said about the original lineup was true: it was a near perfect cast, in a near perfect revival.
Last Saturday's performance (because Fleming and Strauss: two great tastes that don't taste great together) had almost the same players as the production's original 2002 "refurbishing", but everything was improved. Racette for Mescheriakova, Polenzani for Turay: big plusses. Frontali and Zifchak added a certain earthiness of character above the success of their predecessors. And even the strongest point of the 2002 revival -- the clear and oh-so-charming Nanettas of Camilla Tilling and Lyubov Petrova -- found, last week, Three Name Soubrette Heidi Grant Murphy in as good a form as I've ever heard her.
But the story wasn't really of improvements, whether among new cast or by Levine, Terfel, Blythe, or the orchestra. Everything fit; everything was savored. Warmth and good feeling all around. A great human success.*
*except for the cell phone going off at the finale's most quiet moment