On the ipod: Sills sings "Je marche sur tous les chemins." Immeasurably better than Fleming, though there was just a gaudy little ornament.
Now listen, I'm so not hating on Fleming. I want no part of the backlash, with its flavor of "if I say truly horrible things about [singer], I will appear discriminating." One of the best performances I ever heard (Desdemona, Chicago, 2002?) was Fleming in good form, a number of the mid-range good ones, and a few clunkers. Her "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" makes me want to run for the hills. Fleming in my book is a one-in-a-million voice emanating from a lovely looking gal with reliable intelligence and variable taste.
On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is that Desdemona and 1 is maybe "Il Pirata" (which only my cheapness and the possibility of more bliss-inducing Fleming trills kept me from bolting) the recent Met Manon was about a 5. The weird thing is I found her to be in rather _small_ voice. The gent who kindly took me to the opera that evening agreed: "She sounds awfully tentative." She did the hideous thing she does during the little scale descending from a high note in "je marche" but this was expected. Sort of a flat-tone with a burst of volume right at the beginning of each note. I've never known what she was going for with this. It's an almost sarcastic use of vocal technique. She had some unintentionally funny stage business in St. Sulpice, a scene stupidly conceived in that it requires her to dramatically fling off a lot of costume bits that don't fit such that flinging is really much of an option. It takes her about half an hour to get the drab thing she's wearing over her hooker-red number off her shoulders and throw it impetuously on the floor? N'est-ce plus ma....hey, could you help off with this fucking thing?
Everything else worked fine. She didn't move me, but I'm not sure who would in this role. I'd love to hear Gheorghiu.
Meanwhile, Alvarez was busy rocking my world. I remember when Alvarez kind of came on the scene and there was a recital disc and all and I thought: stop marketing Latin tenors at us as if we were dogs trained to salivate at last names ending in vowels. Well you know what? I'm adding his Des Grieux to my list of "perfect role performances I have seen." In fact, right up there with Fleming's Desdemona. It reminded me a lot of John Alexander, whose D.G. with Caballe in New Orleans has long reduced me to mush. Impassioned, not over the top, dynamically nuanced. Vocally, a home run. And if he's not rather dashing, he appears to be from the distance of decent seats.
I should comment on the Lescaut only I have nothing to say, so I won't.
Jean-Paul Fouchecourt who has something of a cult following, well, I didn't really see what the fuss was about at least where voice is concerned. He was appropriately repellant, though too much was made (for my oversensitive liking) of his height.
So now if they'd trot this back out next season with Alvarez and maybe Dessay and somehow magically make La F sing Italian rep in which she does so much less squiding around, so much less noodling and sliding and toothpaste-squeezing, we'd all be happy, and by "all" I mean of course me.