Some of the best comedy in New York played this spring at the Metropolitan Opera, where a randy French count disguised as a holy hermit could be seen consoling lonely young wives with his “religious counsel.” The tenor Juan Diego Florez, as the title character in Gioachino Rossini’s little-known opera Le Comte Ory (The Count Ory), confirmed his status as one of the most uninhibited comedians on the opera stage today. His fellow Rossinians Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato, however, were close at heel. Comedy is the highest end of the bel canto style, and the director Bartlett Sher brought out all the comic potential in this elegantly sly, endlessly tuneful score. The Met’s debut production of Rossini’s penultimate opera demonstrated that self-conscious silliness can be a sublime artistic achievement.

Le Comte Ory allowed Florez to show off his most endearing skill: zaniness in disguise....


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