YAY! A fellow Rossini fan! I agree, I hate it when people try to make an argument, but have no idea what they're talking about!
I saw Anna Netrebko in "Romeo et Juliette" on the big screen this past Wednesday. She's not one of my favorite singers, but she's very beautiful and I liked her in the poison aria (which you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhCm2PHxHaM
). The audience actually started applauding after this aria, and they hadn't done so all night! I really like Renee Flemming, she was the first opera singer I ever really got into. A friend of my dad's actually met her, and I believe got to know her quite well. He said she was a real sweetheart. (His wife at the time was an opera singer, and he got to see many operas at the Met and meet many of the greats including Pavarotti! *jealous!*) I also really like Natalie Dessay, and Diana Damrau's Queen of the Night is fabulous! That's cool that you got to see Andrea Bocelli.
As for my favorite singers, I'm a bit old fashioned. As far as my fellow mezzos go, I love
Marilyn Horne and Frederica von Stade, and for sopranos I like Joan Sutherland and Maria Callas, among others. For the men, Jussi Bjorling and Enrico Caruso.
Those are two great pieces you're working on. "Glitter and be Gay" is such a fun song, you can go as over-the-top with it as you want, and "Un Bel Di" is just gorgeous.
I've learned quite a bit of Italian and French from listening to opera, as well. I was surprised at how much I understood when I saw "Romeo et Juliette". Are you learning/fluent in any foreign languages?
Glad you enjoyed the video.
EDIT: I can't believe I forgot to mention Rosa Ponselle!