I Capuleti e i Montecchi - Royal Opera House, 30 March 2009
I booked tickets for both ends of the current Capuleti run (curiously, four weeks apart), on the basis that even a serial canceller like Netrebko wouldn't dare cop out of both. Luckily I dodged the inevitable and caught her twice.
She wasn't at her absolute best, occasionally forcing her tone or slipping beneath the note, in a way that suggested lapses of concentration rather than serious problems. But most of her singing was very lovely indeed - liquid, intelligent and delicately nuanced - and she even managed a good firm trill at one point.
It was announced that Elina Garanca was suffering from a cold - collective sigh - but that she'd sing anyway - delighted applause. I couldn't tell anything was amiss. As on the first night, she shaded Netrebko in purely vocal terms.
But there's a real partnership between these two, at the musical level and beyond, and it transcends any of the finicky technical stuff. Listening to their exquisitely-matched love duet, or watching them grapple playfully on the bed afterwards as the applause thundered out made that clear.
The orchestra's contribution was patchy - dodgy woodwind intonation marred the prelude, and a few moments of hush were unbalanced by over-enthusiastic violins. But the solos, especially the haunting horn that introduces Giulietta, were well-taken. As on the first night, the only real disappointment lay with the male roles - when you're playing the same game as Netrebko, Garanca, and Elder, you need to be in the same league - mere adequacy is just not enough.