Tosca - Royal Opera House, 17 July 2011
There was something missing from tonight's Tosca - the Maestro's vocal accompaniment. Has he bowed to public pressure and resolved to conduct in silence?
All I will note is that he produced another superb orchestral performance, yet without the frantic energy and earbusting volume of Thursday night's. It was more refined, more subtle in its accents, but perhaps less exciting. Which is best - and does the grunting help? Let the DVD producers decide.
They'll have a problem with Angela Gheorghiu's second act though. This time, unlike Thursday, she remembered to take her gloves off and she got the words right (one day, the purpose of rehearsals may sink in). But her Vissi d'arte was too wayward for even Pappano to keep up with, and she simply ran out of puff in the longer lines.
It got the scheduled and paused-for ovation of course - as did Jonas Kaufmann's Recondita armonia. Pappano seemed determined to push on without breaking the musical flow, but the orchestra ground to halt as the applause erupted. Jonas couldn't help sneaking a tiny grin. It was another fantastic night for him from start to finish - jaws dropped as he belted out a colossal Vittoria, hearts melted at his ardent E lucevan le stelle.
There might be more beautifully-sung Scarpias than Bryn Terfel's, but could anyone else come close to being so convincing? He dripped malevolence from every sweaty pore. One of this otherwise dreary production's better touches is his sneaky pocketing of Tosca's fallen hair ribbon, which he later takes out and pervily sniffs. He gives Gheorghiu every reason to recoil at his very presence - a masterful portrayal.
What a way to end the season.