As for Madame Podles, many of us have been lobbying for her reappearance at the Met for many years (she last sung here in 1984). No matter how often I hear her remarkably subterranean contralto, the first time that she opens her mouth in a given performance is a shocking moment. Singing the role of La Cieca, the blind mother of Gioconda, she delivered such an otherworldly "Figlia, che reggi il tremolo pie" that for the first time I thought that maybe, just maybe, she actually was a witch. Take note, Mr. Gelb: The ovation for her lasted longer than all of the others for the whole cast of singers for the entire evening combined.

September 26, 2008

by Fred Kirshnit