With this blog, you get a lot of “opera”, and a moderate amount of “teen”. Tonight, you get a big helping of both, because it’s officially one week until opening night at the Met and this is only my first round of season predictions. Or those who don’t know, I chunk the Met season into four parts depending on what premieres and offer my predictions on how the run might break down and what you can expect for the season. I’ll work overtime, but I promise I’ll have the four posts up by Monday. Let’s jump right in!
Eugene Onegin: The Met season opens on September, 23rd with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in a new production. It was originally planned to be by Deborah Werner, but her frequent collaborator Fiona Shaw took it over when Warner bowed out due to surgery. The production has already been seen at the ENO, and from what friends across the pond have told me, it seems pleasing to look at, and conceptually “inoffensive”. The Met will likely eat it up. The production replaces the much beloved Carsen production. Anna Netrebko makes her Met role debut as Tatjana opposite Mariusz Kweicien’s Onegin. Netrebko premiered the role to great acclaim in Salzburg earlier this year, and New York is eagerly awaiting her interpretation. Go-to Romantic tenor, Piotr Beczala, sings Lensky. I can’t wait to hear his “Kuda, Kuda”. Oksana Volkova, a inconsistent Maddalena in last season’s Rigoletto is Tatjana’s sister, Olga.
It’s worth mentioning that midway through the run, the casts change. The often apathetic Marina Poplavskaya sings Tatiana and Peter Mattei takes on Onegin, which would really be something to see. Rolando Villazon returns to the Met stage for the first time since his vocal crisis to sing Lensky, a role that shouldn’t tax him too heavily. Valery Gergiev, Pavel Smelkov, and Alexander Vedernikov share conducting responsibilities.
Cosi fan Tutte: The Met’s drab production returns with a cast that will probably be referred to as “young and sexy” until they’re in their 90’s. Two charming singers, Susannah Philips and Isabel Leonard, are the sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella. The vary capable, Matthew Polenzani, and the fabulous Figaro, Rodion Pogossov, are Ferrando and Guglielmo. Danielle de Niese, who seems to irritate everybody but me, is the maid, Despina. The revival is particularly notable because it’s James Levine’s first return to the Met podium since his back injuries over two years ago. I wish Maestro Levine well on his return to the house he calls home!
The Nose: One of the few successful productions of Peter Gelb’s tenure returns to the Met, headed by the fantastic baritone, Paolo Szot. Szot sang the role at its Met premiere two seasons ago. Andrey Popov is the Police Inspector, and Alexander Lewis is the Nose. William Kentridge’s “Nose” is sure to be a hot ticket, due to the production’s success in 2010. Valery Gergiev is in town to conduct.
Norma: After an inordinately long time (six years) for possibly the most famous bel-canto opera to be missing, Norma returns to the Met stage. I’m not the world’s biggest bel-canto fan, and Bellini is probably my least favorite composer (Even though I do enjoy a good Capuleti). Sondra Radvanovsky, a singer whose voice I’ve never been able to warm up to, sings the priestess opposite Kate Aldrich as Adalgisa. Aleksandrs Antonenko, who’s due to the Met as Otello, soon, sings Pollione. The performances are conducted by Riccardo Frizza. For two performances, (not nearly enough…), powerhouse and 2007 National Council Audition winners Angela Meade and Jamie Barton sing Norma and Adalgisa. I highly recommend this duo, ladies and gentlemen. They are both lovely people and exquisite artists. Go and see them. I can’t urge you enough. GO AND SEE THEM.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: If this is the way the Met pays homage to Benjamin Britten, who is celebrating his centennial this year, then it’s a sad commentary on the musical priorities of the Metropolitan Opera. The only Britten work presented this season is headlined by Kathleen Kim as the Fairy Queen, Titania. Also in the cast is lauded countertenor Iestyn Davies as Oberon, Joseph Kaiser as Lysander, and Matthew Rose (Who was fantastic in Maria Stuarda), is Bottom. James Conlon conducts the piece. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but it’s definitely worth checking out for Iestyn Davies.
Two Boys: When an opera that has been written in the past twenty years comes to the Met, it’s a reason to celebrate. Young composer, Nico Muhly’s newest opera with a libretto by (Craig Lucas) comes to the Met after an ENO premiere a few years ago (The Met and ENO do share a lot, don’t they…).The story is about the dangers that lie in online chatrooms, as investigated by police because of a crime. I don’t want to say that it’s the “cyberbullying” opera, but it seems like that’s the way they’re marketing it. Paul Appleby sings the leading character, Brian. While Paul Appleby is a very talented singer, and was fantastic in Carmelites this past season, it seems soon to put him center stage, as he’s only sung supporting roles up to this point. Alice Coote, a singer who has never excited me personally, but has a huge following, is Detective Inspector Anne Strewson. Other cast members include Keith Miller, Jennifer Zetlan, and Judith Forst. Bart Sher directs (Again…) and David Robertson conducts. Go check it out (I think I will.). It’s a great opportunity to hear new opera at the Met.
Tosca: This season, the Met is reviving the Puccini Big 3. Fortunately, they all have pretty varied and interesting casts. Patricia Racette sings Tosca opposite Roberto Alagna and George Gagnidze for the beginning run of performances. I found that Racette made a beautiful and delicate Tosca, that I really enjoyed. These are all singers that can be relied on to put on a good Tosca, even in Luc Bondy’s drab production. (And they took the offensive parts out, so it’s really boring now.) Later in the run, Tosca’s change to Sondra Radvanovsky & Elisabette Matos and Cavaradossi’s change to Marcello Giordani & Riccardo Tamura. Riccardo Frizza and Marco Armiliato share conducting duties.
Die Frau Ohne Schatten: I’m gonna go ahead and say that FrOSch is the most hotly anticipated event of the season. It has all the ingredients for a success: Christine Goerke, one of the foremost rising dramatic sopranos in the world, as the Dyer’s Wife, a strong production (That I haven’t seen, but I’ve heard that it’s fantastic), and it hasn’t been heard at the Met in ten years. I have tickets for the final performance, but I might have to try and see it earlier in the run. As an added bonus, it has Ildiko Komlosi, a personal favorite, as the Nurse. Torsten Kerl sings The Emperor and Johan Reuter sings Barak, the Dyer. Anne Schwanewilms is the Empress. and Vladimir Jurovski conducts. If you can’t tell, I’m extremely excited to see this.
Here you have it! What to expect September through mid-November! Check back in a day or so for the next round.