We decided to see Giulio Cesare because we liked the publicity photo of Natalie Dessay with the Louise Brooks’ bob. Despite our misgivings about the Vegas Rigoletto, the Bollywood Cesare looked like fun.
It was around this time last year we saw Dessay in La Traviata, and fell in love with opera. More recently, I learned we’d been lucky to actually see her, as she’d missed a few performances, so when I read about her triumphant opening night as Cleopatra, I could only cross my fingers. Then she missed Tuesday’s performance, but had been replaced by Danielle DeNiese who’d sung the role in the same production when it was first presented in 2005. DeNiese was still standing by. It sounded like it would be a win in either case.
We’d never seen an 18th century, baroque opera, so I did a little research. The title role had been written to be sung by a castrato. Since we don’t cut off boy’s testicles anymore, nowadays they use a countertenor. Huh? Countertenor? I’d heard of them, but wasn’t sure if they were only a rumor. Not only is the title role a countertenor, but so are two other important ones.
Friday night we had our ritual pre-opera dinner at Nice-Matin. It’s not right next to the Met, but not too long a walk. As 5:15 is a bit early, the waitress asked us if we had some event to get to later. This being New York, she turned out to be a singer, knew it was even money on whether or not we’d be seeing Dessay or DeNiese,, and had even met David Daniels. We joked about cheap seats, rush tickets and standing room not being a great choice for the vertically challenged. We left happy to have had another great only-in-New York-moment.
There were no announcements, which meant Dessay would be singing. Yay!!!!