I'm one of those people always yelling that yes, you need to have committed actors for opera and sure it helps I guess if they're good looking but bottom line I want to hear the great voices who understand what they are singing about. And I underline great voices. Like many of us, I grew up on recordings and added the visual element later in life. My opera going days during the 700s and 80s were mostly from standing room way WAAAAY upstairs so my perspective was very different from seeing youtube at my desk (and what a blessing youtube is!)
The Met's HD presentations in movie theaters are changing things. I suspect that many of the productions, staged in the past four or five years were designed to be seen from a closer perspective. Showing the twenty year old Aida gave us close ups of hollow columns that from a distance look spectacular. And then there were the singers.
Look, you need big magnificent voices for Aida. The tenor and the mezzo had 'em. The mezzo owns this music, all over the world. I haven't heard anyone touch her for power. But the camera was not kind to her. The close ups of this princess of Egypt did no one any favors. After all these years her voice is undiminished. It's a force of nature. I don't approve of my attitude in even noticing anything else about her. The tenor is a big BIG boy. A really big boy. I loved the fact that he was unafraid to use the sweetness in his splendid voice for Radames. He really sang the music, and he sounded like a lover. I suspect the experience live in the theater was more powerful than in the cinemas. Again, I'm worried that I even noticed, but up on the big screen, blown up the size of a building people's physicality can't be missed or discounted. I did love our mezzo throwing a few skinny bitch looks to Renee Fleming during an awkward intermission interview. Renee looked great but she can't sing Amneris. Our mezzo...my God!-certainly did!