The other big question mark was Olga Borodina, whose vocal and physical glamour is real but not the sort one associates with the technical bravura and pinpoint articulation needed for one of Rossini's resourceful mezzo minxes.
‘As was the case in all of Verdi's early operas,’ writes Said with a wink, ‘Aïda is about a tenor and a soprano who want to make love but are prevented by a baritone and a mezzo .’
Above all, it had the dominant presence of Veronica Dunne in the dark mezzo role of the sinister Countess.
There's nothing wrong with that (the soprano and mezzo who sang in the premiere were Verdi's original Aïda and Amneris).
The bass was Georg Zeppenfeld, but outshining everyone was the mezzo Angelika Kirschschlager, electrifyingly intense in all she sang.
Canadian mezzo Allyson McHardy sings and acts Butterfly's servant, Suzuki, with care and sensitivity.
This summer she returns to her mezzo roots to play Carmen, a role that brings her career full circle.
Bernarda Fink seduced us all with her sensuously exhaled Shéhérazade, her velvet mezzo timbre allied to clear and idiomatic delivery of Tristan Klingsor's ambivalently erotic texts.
Backed by a 12-person choir, the quartet's hitherto hidden voices hold their own, controlling the mezzo range nicely.
Manistina, while not a great actress, sang the challenging role admirably with her well-sounding, stable mezzo and garnered much applause.