All these substitutions make life interesting, don't they? I would rather have had Pape as the Hoffmann villains (he's always first-rate, I think), but it's his choice to make as to whether he's doing them, and sometimes it's not until you've learned the notes and are starting to "sing it in" to the voice that you may learn that it feels wrong.

Calleja, however, should be marvelous as Hoffmann. It'll be his first time at the role, but I have great confidence in him, and I think it's the right step forward for him. (The Met has underused him, restricting him to the Rigoletto Duke, a few Macduffs, and one Nemorino last season when Villazon pulled out and almost every tenor on the roster got a crack at it.) I saw Calleja's Duke in Washington DC 2 years ago, and it was sensationally good -- the voice free and liquid and unpushed in a way hardly any other tenor sings now.

In a way, I'll be sorry not to see Gheorghiu's Carmen -- the voice has a smoky sexy star quality that could make her a throwback to soprano Carmens of the past, and I find her recording highly intriguing; but it may be an illusion of the microphones. Garanca should work out very well.

It does sound as if something is going on (or maybe isn't) with Roberto & Angela, does it not?

[This message has been edited by Jon (edited 09-11-2009).]