I'll add my WOW to the others. I almost didn't go, because I disliked that production so much, especially that bland, boring set. But some improvements were made. The Act I walls were given some texture (bricks) with more angles and set decoration. The biggest change was the placement of the portrait Cavaradossi was painting. In the original production, it was far upstage, stage right, in shadow. So the painter walked from the light into the shadow to work on his painting? Dumb. This time it was downstage left, fully visible. Some improvements were made to Scarpia's headquarters as well, but it still looked like a bus station.
There was a lot more vigor in the action this time, including the most realistic operatic murder I've ever seen. This was no ladylike mini-thrust which just happens to prove lethal. Racette stabbed Gagzidne twice, enough to make him fall to the ground, but he was still alive. So she straddled him, held the knife above her head with both hands, and plunged it down as hard as she could. Muori, Muori!
Then she got up and wiped the blood off her hands on a sofa cushion. Very verismo
for an opera that's supposed to be not-quite verismo
. But all three acts had scenes of great intensity like that. The first act, it was Scarpia's singing of his own lust against a background of church music -- sex and religion and death all mixed up together. It was chilling. The last act, the mock execution, of course.
It seemed to me Alagna was singing more loudly than everyone else on the stage -- not to the point of drowning anyone out, but with a lot more volume. He sounds good loud.
All the singers sounded good, and there was none of that "Oh, I've done this so often I don't even have to think about it" that sometimes creeps into a performance. And no draggy parts; it all moved along lickety-split.
Incidentally, Gagnidze bears some physical resemblance to Edward Arnold -- does anyone remember Edward Arnold?