It was impossible to tell that Johan Botha had missed 3 prior performances of Otello due to a cold. The quality of his voice was beaautiful: free on top notes and powerful with menace in his characterization of Verdi's tragic dupe. Paired with Fleming's gorgeous and now-classic Desdemona, the pair conveyed the full tragedy of their downfall, all orchestrated by the sinister Iago. Falk Struckmann inhabited the evildoer's role with chillingly convincing smirks of satisfaction as he saw his plot unfolding just as he had planned it. He was quite brutal when enlisting his wife Emilia's aid and throughout his singing was vivid, alternating between smooth charm and snarling intimidation with ease. Seldom have I heard "Ecco il leone!" delivered with such triumphant wickedness. Great job by all, as always assisted ably by that splendid Met orchestra. A fine afternoon all around.