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The Met Season Analysis Part 1: What to Expect From September to October

It was around this time last year that I started this blog, Opera Teen. First I was on Blogger, then Tumblr and now I’m here at WordPress and I couldn’t be more satisfied with it. One of these days will be my “Opera Teen-iversary”. Too bad I don’t remember which one…

When I started this blog, I was a little lost. I didn’t know which direction to take. I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on or what my next step would be. Then, along came opening night at the Met (You will notice that I liveblog opening night. Other post came after this one so you can see), and I found my groove. Over the past season, I spent a lot of time reviewing the radio broadcasts. Since then, I’ve grown as a writer, and I’m more knowledgeable. That being said, I still have a lot more to do. And that more, starts September 24th, 2012.

On that day, the Metropolitan Opera opens its doors with a production of L’Elisir d’Amore for a whole new season. You can’t help but be excited!

So in this series of posts, I’m going to take it opera-by-opera and break down what this season might look like.

Am I the only person who thinks this production of Elisir looks JUST LIKE the last one? And what’s with that hat?! Photo courtesy of Ken Howard

L’Elisir D’Amore: This opera is Anna Netrebko’s second opening night, and a new production by Bart Sher. Sher’s production’s tend to go either way and this one looks pretty traditional so we’ll see in the HD screening. Vocally, Netrebko sounds a little mature for this role. To sing Anna Bolena one year then Adina the next is a little odd. Polenzani, who won rave reviews for his Alfredo last year, sings Nemorino. Polenzani is a talented artist, but I’m surprised Juan Diego Florez or someone similar is singing opening night. Polenzani isn’t in the throes of his career yet and as talented as he is, maybe another role in a few years.

Turandot: Zeffirelli’s gilded stage masterpiece rides again at the Met this year, sadly without the late Charles Anthony singing Emperor Altoum. There will be a sentimental vibe this year. Guleghina and Theorin alternate as the princess and Marco Berti(Who of which I am not a fan.) and Marcello Giordani alternate as Calaf. OT predicts a fantastic role debut for her. She sang Brunhilde in the final run of the Schenk Ring Cycle and it’s her first return to the Met since 2009.

Stage rehearsal for Turandot. Photo courtesy of Ken Howard.

Carmen: The Richard Eyre Carmen was pretty fantastic and Anita Can’tpronounceherlastname sings the title role. She sung the role at the Met before and opened a season at La Scala with the role as well, to moderate reviews. Yonghoon Lee sings Don Jose and Kyle Ketelsen sings Escamillo. The ever underrated, ever talented, and ever talented Hei Kyung Hong sings Micaela in later performances while Kate Royal sings it opening night. This is a pretty safe cast.

Il Trovatore: This revival should be called “Send in the Sopranos”. Carmen Giannattasio, Patricia Racette and Angela Meade are all singing Leonora at some point during the season. Marco Berti, Alexey Markov and Franco Vasallo all take on “leading roles”. As Azucena, Stephanie Blythe and Dolora Zajick alternate, furthering the fact that Blythe and Zajick are pretty much the same person.

Otello: The Feast of Fleming opens on October 9th, with Renee Fleming as Desdemona and Johan Botha as Otello. Falk Struckman sings Iago. This production is also running in the spring. The Met pulled a nasty trick on us. In the Spring, Jose Cura sings Otello and Thomas Hampson sings Iago. However, Krassimira Stoyanova is singing Desdemona and not La Voce. It Renee was singing in the spring, t would be the perfect cast. Ever. I’ve already got my tickets for the second performance on the 13th! I’m excited to hear Renee Fleming live for the first time! Below is the entire Otello from the Met in 1995 with Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo, and James Morris.

The Tempest: The Met’s major casting dilemma: Planning their productions four of five years in advance. Why, after the Ring disaster, would you EVER have Robert Lepage back to direct?! The composer, Thomas Ades conducts his recent piece that is relatively highly regarded around the world. Isabel Leonard sings Miranda. Leonard is a talented artist, but she’s being pushed on Met audiences a little too fiercely. with Iestyn Davies as Trinculo and Alex Shrader, 2007 Met National Council Audition winner and star of the Susan Froemke film, The Audition sings Ferdinand. Simon Keenlyside sings Prospero. The premise of the production is that everything is set in 19th Century Teatro alla Scala. This is going to be good… Or bad. Audrey Luna sings the aria “Five Fathoms Deep” from The Tempest world premiere below.

Le Nozze di Figaro: The Mozart favorite comes back in a no-hype revival of the Ponnelle production. The cast looks great, with Ildar Abdrazakov as Figaro, Christine Schafer as Cherubino and Maija Kovalevska as the Contessa. Our favorite Hei Kyung Hong sings the Contessa in the last performance and Mojca Erdmann sings Susanna, after a questionable debut in Don Giovanni as Zerlina last fall. Below Schafer sings “Non so Piu” from Le Nozze di Figaro from 2006 from a… production. You’ll see what I mean.

So there you have it, MY analysis for the Met productions from September to October. I’ll be back soon with November to December. Talk to you soon people!

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8 comments on “The Met Season Analysis Part 1: What to Expect From September to October

  1. Why would you not have Lepage back after a brilliant “Damnation of Faust” plus triumphs at COC with “The Nightingale” and “Erwartung/Bluebeard’s Castle” and a pretty decent “Rake’s Progress” in Brussels? What do you want – more Bart Sher and Mary Zimmerman? OK, Lepage isn’t a safe bet but he’s been responsible for more successful innovation on both opera and straight theatre stages than just about any other director I can think of.

  2. I agree completely with operaramblings and also I loved the Ring Cycle he did for the Met! With such a big deal as the Ring, you have to take some risks somewhere and nobody’s ever going to be completely satisfied. I’d much rather take the exciting new Ring production than some really boring traditional one. With over 15 hours of music, you need something interesting to happen on stage. Also, whatever your opinion of it is, you have to remember that so much work and effort went into making it happen and I think instead we should be applauding Lepage for taking a risk and working so hard to make this difficult production work!

    • For the record, I don’t think The Ring worked. Well bits of it did. But one failure, if failure it was/is, is no reason to write off a guy with a thirty year track record of creating exciting theatre.

    • I understand both your opinions. I think when the Met hired him for the Ring Cycle, it was on the tails of his success with Damnation of Faust, but that was back a few years ago. I still respect Mr. Lepage and I do think he was an experienced and well respected director. He might experience success in The Tempest but the Ring left such a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. The whole Ring Cycle for the Met is called “The Lepage Ring” so I think that name has a bad connotation for some people. I’m not so familiar with his style and I hope he finds his groove in the Tempest, even though I think it still feels a little strange to have a controversial director back for a Met premiere of a modern opera.

      • All the same, my opinion is that it is definitely a good thing that the Met are employing ‘controversial’ directors. I think that sometimes they have been a little bit stuck because they don’t want to move away from the Zeffirelli era. I can see why but I am really pleased that they are doing these experimental productions to bring opera forwards. Sure, not every production is going to be popular but I am certain that at some point they will find one that lots of people will love. Without people like Lepage, opera would still be stuck in the past, which should be the opposite of what we want. Also, the recent Met production that I really disliked was the new Tosca. Supposedly it is meant to be reminiscent of Rome, but it looks more like Manchester! But because the Ring Cycle is a much bigger undertaking, when people didn’t like it, there was a much bigger fuss.

      • Damnation of Faust was November 2008. The Nightingale sold out its run at BAM in March 2011. That’s not exactly ancient history. I would agree though that it’s strange to have a controversial director at the Met for anything! Somebody needs to bring in Herheim or Bieito and put a firecracker up some complacent bourgeois backsides!

        Meanwhile I shall luxuriate in a local season which features both Aldens, Robert Carsen, Peter Sellars and Atom Egoyan. A figgo for your Met!

  3. And what’s wrong with Manchester? One could set the first act of Tosca in St. Anne’s, the second act at the Arndale Centre and have Tosca leap to her death from the new press box in the sky at Old Trafford.

  4. Hahaha, I like that idea! No, there’s nothing wrong with Manchester, I’ve been there several times and it’s a lovely city. However, it’s not Rome and I was a bit disappointed after they had claimed several times that the director had based it on the Roman setting, as dictated by Puccini, when he clearly hadn’t. :)

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