An opera, however, rests on its music, and sadly, while maestro Kent Nagano conducted with an élan that accented key dramatic elements in Strauss' score, the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, particularly concert master Stuart Canin, was not entirely up to the demands. Obbligato passages that should have shimmered in poignancy, were scuttled by insecure playing. First rate singing, happily, saved the day. Toronto home town girl Piezoncka gave a radiant performance, with her beautiful voice, at once sweet and powerful, capturing the stately, mature nuances of the Marschellin's intense humanity and complex personality. British-born Coote was nothing short of sensational. A high mezzo-soprano with a luscious, full-bodied sound, she can also act up a storm. No wonder her career is taking off like a rocket. The charming Rydl can still dominate the stage, although there is a tell-tale wobble in his high notes that signify the twilight of a distinguished life in opera. Alas, the usually reliable Futral was in sad decline in her upper register, a strain perhaps due to singing too much and too often. Bork is a nice discovery, a firm-voiced baritone with a crystalline sound, and it is always good to hear character tenor Laciura who always is on the mark. Thompson has a robust, fruity sound that makes her one to watch, while Foster in her small role was more than serviceable. She too is a singer that bears watching.