Today's general rehearsal for I Capuleti e i Montecchi (opening at the Royal Opera House on Monday) could hardly have gone better. A few question marks over the guys maybe, but Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca were on stunning form, Garanca in particular entirely flawless.
This role really shows Netrebko's strengths with its soaring legato phrasing - none of that hit-and-miss twiddly batsqueak stuff. Even in rehearsal she's right under Giulietta's skin. She looks gorgeous too, in a flowing cream gown - cut low for maximum bewbage but skimming gracefully over any remaining post-baby chub.
And we even got to see her in person and close-up as she made a surprise passage through the bar at the interval, still in full costume of course, with photographer and baby-toting husband Erwin Schrott in tow. The baby incidentally is utterly adorable, his thick black hair in a little mohawk and a look of permanent surprise on his face.
Elina Garanca got an even bigger ovation than Netrebko and deservedly so - tone, phrasing, flexibility, stamina - she had it all. The press photographers in the stalls went trigger-crazy at every Netrebko/Garanca clinch - I'm now waiting for the lurid lesbo headline in the Daily Mail.
Mark Elder's Bellini is a revelation, clean-limbed and twinkling. I hope the ballet-style oafish applause over the end of each scene won't be repeated on opening night though.
Netrebko and Garanca recorded in Vienna last year: