With lighting, scenery, props and costumes you can try to sell your production of an Opera, but if the singing isn't up to scratch, nothing is forgiven.
In this case, the Belcanto singing demanded by the composer can only be described as excellent. This was only the third attempt at writing opera for Rossini and is considered one of his best.
After an acclaimed season when first performed, it remained in the repertoire until 1826 but was shelved until 1960. To gather a large cast of Belcanto singers of the calibre needed for this opera, a coloratura contralto, 3 buffo bassos and 2 sopranos [there is always plenty of these available], was too difficult.
As a child prodigy, he started composing and performing at the age of 10. Born in 1792 he had written 38 operas by the time he was 38 and decided that was enough.
His music is often compared to champagne; it starts gently then bubbles up with excitement.
In 1817 he accepted the commission to write an opera based on the children's story of Cinderella, which he completed in three weeks, but refused to include fairy princesses, pumpkin coaches and mice in the story.
Instead matching bracelets replaced shoes as identification of the fairest in the land and 'true' love between Prince and scullery maid. Thank goodness the bracelets matched.
The couch with three legs the singers keep becoming unbalanced on was funny the first time, but by the second and third time the laughs dried up. There may be a very special point to having huge doorways up to the highest ceilings in the world and costumes representing doll's clothes, but this only lead to unnecessary distractions to singing that an audience rose to their feet to applaud.
Joyce DiDonato is one of those coloratura contraltos that has eluded the opera stages of the world for most of the first half of the 20th century. She has the necessary depth to the voice which she takes up to the high register with thrilling results.
Juan Diego Florez, as the romantic hero attacks, his role with courage. His high C's and almost impossible high D gains him a well-earned standing ovation in 'Ah, come al labbio al seno' in the second act.
Two sopranos and three baritones make up the rest of this amazing cast. Rossini included 'patter' singing which was skilfully guided from the pit by Maestro Fabio Luisi.
Humour and riveting Belcano was rewarded with a standing ovation from the audience. This was the final time Joyce DiDonato sang this demanding role. Let's hope she goes on to include in her repertoire more of the roles written for this amazing voice.
This season from the Metropolitan Opera of live performances in HD continues for the next few months. The new season opens with Verdi's Macbeth on November 1st.
Now the best of the best can be heard for a fraction of the cost of attending a live performance at the Lincoln Centre in New York.