Re Francesca da Rimini -- I don't think I've ever said this before, but I LOVED the production but didn't care much for the opera. (Usually it's the other way around.) It's a Glyndebourne design, first used by the Met in the 80s and revived for the current production. Stunning, imposing sets and gorgeous costumes -- just what you want to see in grand opera. Unfortunately, this particular opera isn't grand at all; it must be difficult for singers to memorize such forgettable music. It seemed to me the opera didn't really come alive until the last act. Beginning in the scene in which Malatestino tells Giovanni that Francesca has been cheating on him with Paolo, there was an energy and a forward momentum that was well sustained right up to the abrupt ending (stab, stab, they're dead, close the curtain).
Eva-Maria Westbroek had to screech a couple of her high notes early in the opera, but later on she was hitting them with no trouble at all. Marcello Giordani has added even more poundage to his ever-expanding girth (which somewhat detracted from everyone's description of Paolo as a dreamboat), but it didn't interfere with his voice, fortunately. I loved Mark Delavan as Giovanni; his rich, colorful voice was the best sound coming from that stage.
But in spite of the good things, I was still left wondering why such care was lavished on this opera.