At the risk of validating the hype, let me say that tonight's hot-hot-hot Rigoletto was really a very good show.
Anna Netrebko proved (to me at least) that she's a lot more than just an opera hot face. Hers is a wonderful sound: all milky smoovness that turns on a dime, but never comes off cloying or manufactured. She conveys a deep understanding of the part, and precision engineers each aria accordingly, drawing on sounds that run the gamut from anguished, crystal clear highs in the Act II confession to excuciatingly delicate pianissimos in the death scene (completely audible 80 feet above her head, of course). A ticket to her debut at Carnegie Hall in March? Yes please...
Rolando V. also delivered a very strong showing. There were times when I felt he got overexcited and a little sloppy, or maybe there were moments when he was too willing to dip into his bag of affectations instead of just singing the thing. But all this went out the window when it really counted, and R delivered the goods according to schedule--the goods being a full throated sound as notable for its depth as its brilliance. If not quite sure at the beginning of the night, by the third act I was more than convinced he could do just about anything he wanted with that voice. However, I would suggest he take the onstage lustiness down about one notch. It should be possible to portray "animal" and not actually impregnate Maddalena, after all.
If not a head turning sound per se, I thought Carlo Guelfi a wonderful Rigoletto. Not that this is true of Rolando and Trebs, but I think its possible to phone these roles in and still have a good show. Not so with Rigoletto. If we don't experience that irreduceable tension between sympathy and judgement the whole thing falls apart. Guelfi had it all, especially in his big Act II solo and "Piangi mi fanciulla". These should be the soul of the show, I think, and oh boy were they tonight.
All the other elements seemed firmly in place--Asher Fisch kept things kicking in the pit, the chorus sounded great, and a special mention for the ensemble work, so glorious in this opera, which was carried out with an unusual refinement.
The sold-outedness was somewhat noticeable, teenagers that looked like they were going to prom, and a high incidence of talking/coughing/gurgling, including the riff raff behind us, who seemed content to carry on a full conversation during Act I until our combined stares of death finally quieted them. But such is the price of hotness.
Update: And here we thought everyone else was going on Tuesday. Maury's take: Rolando is "the one"; JSU's thoughts are here.