Comic timing. Probably the most startling thing about the Met’s HD live broadcasts over the last two weeks besides the fact that these productions may look better on camera than they do in person, is that Beverly Sills may have missed her calling by not pursing a career in comedy. She was a total hoot during last weeks I Puritani
broadcast with Margaret Juntwait, and this week she was even better. After wisecracks about getting Domingo alone in his dressing room away from his wife, she made an off-hand remark about David Beckham
during an intermission interview with the opera legend. In the midst of lauding Domingo's many strengths and recent successes, she made reference to “your” (I take it, she meant LA's) luring Beckham to play hockey. After clearly pausing to figure out what she was talking about, Domingo acknowledged this week’s news that Beckham will be coming to LA to play soccer for the Galaxy. At the LA screening I attended, hilarity ensued. Sills rocks America. They should sign her up for lots more of this stuff.
Oh, and by the way, my second screening of the overly maligned The First Emperor
was thoroughly enjoyable. Quite a bit of it doesn’t work so well, but a significant amount of it does. The choral writing is very good as are the openings of both acts. It is worth seeing for its fine cast, if for no other reason. I can think of many operas in the repertoire with as much dross in them as this one. It may not survive into future productions outside of LA, but I still admire its ambition.