Before I go on and on at length about the Gala, may I have a moment to talk about Sondra Radvanovsky? Whatever trace of rumored indisposition was upon her at the season's Trovatore prima (where, of course, she nevertheless had a huge triumph with her second aria) has now passed, and her all-too-short vocal demonstration Sunday is played out in full in her Leonora. There was, last night, no sense of conserving a bit to get to that last-act aria: just a huge, focused, and flexible (including, of course, a trill) voice reveling in its capacities -- easily filling the huge house and our ears with ample, supple sound at all volumes. Yes, folks, voices are supposed to do all of that.
Another display was put on by Luciana d'Intino, who actually debuted opposite Radvanovsky in Don Carlo four years ago. At the time I found her sound a bit white and less-than-Dolora Zajick-sized, but the years seem to have reversed things. The firm and even security from top to bottom, the vocal control, and her way with a Verdian phrase now guide a sound that's full and has real reserve power. The comparison may be unfair -- Zajick, from whom d'Intino has taken over the part of Azucena, also had some rumored indisposition when I saw the prima -- but on the whole I think d'Intino is an improvement over her now-frayed-on-top predecessor.
Not so is tenor Philip Webb, though he did a creditable cover job in his first full performance at the Met. Webb apparently made his debut Friday, when original tenor Marcelo Alvarez couldn't continue after the first two acts. Brought back from the start yesterday, Webb has some nice sound in the middle voice. Unfortunately, he's constricted on top (leading to a long but not-too-audible climax to "Di quella pira") and lacks the nobility of phrase and plangent sound Alvarez brings to Manrico, the mama's boy troubador who nevertheless has stature.
Let's hope Alvarez recovers in time for Radvanovsky's last Trovatore of the season this Friday: her Leonora here is a sensational assumption that deserves the best support. Who knows -- maybe it's in fact brought this American soprano's popularity and recognition to the critical mass that even Europhile Met GM Peter Gelb can't ignore...