I've been enjoying Ildar Abdrazakov for some years now, watching his gradual and well-deserved rise to the top. I saw him as Escamillo at the Met, some years back and in 2006 made the trip to DC with some students to see L'Italiana in Algeri at the Washington National Opera. He was a splendid Mustafá (much more real singing than one often gets in the Rossini comic bass roles), his wife Olga Borodina a wonderfully grand and spirited Isabella (the Italian Woman of the title), and a young tenor, on the verge of hitting the big time, Juan DIego Florez (both hilarious and meltingly sung). All three were so satisfying, that was one of my best nights at the opera.