As the pandemic rages, live shows at the Metropolitan Opera are still many moons away. To gladden fans’ hearts at this darkest season of the year, the company has laid on a straight week of irresistible Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini all starring the one and only Luciano Pavarotti, each time opposite a different prima donna. For starters, there’s Renata Scotto as the consumptive Mimì, in search of a light for her candle (December 28). Christiane Eda-Pierre, of Martinique, portrays Gilda, to whom the rakish Duke in Rigoletto flies as the moth to the flame (December 30). Leona Mitchell blazes as Elvira in Ernani, who has the tenor, baritone, and bass all in a tizzy (December 31). The intrepid Leonora of Il Trovatore falls to the indomitable Eva Marton (January 1). Next up is Aprile Millo as Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, conscience-stricken with love for her husband’s best friend (January 2). And to ring down the curtain, there’s Kathleen Battle, all glitter and gleam as Adina, the scintillating lady of property in L’Elisir d’amore (January 3). But there’s one more we’ve saved for last. That would be Shirley Verrett, in the title role of Tosca (December 29). Tragic grandeur, innate majesty, a mercurial temperament touched with kittenish innocence—all this plus smoldering vocalism: these were qualities Verrett, herself a diva to her fingertips, brought to this diva undone by the very gifts that make men adore her. Pavarotti, in his youthful prime, sings the smitten Cavaradossi, with Cornell MacNeil as Scarpia, Rome’s predatory chief of police. James Conlon conducts. —M.G.
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