Monday, April 24, 2017
At the premiere, in 1835, Fromenthal Halévy’s La Juive triumphed, in part, due to its spectacular staging –critics jested that the military processions could shatter the balance of power in Europe–and in part for the frisson of the opera’s horrific conclusion, Rachel and Eléazar tossed into boiling oil by a Christian mob singing merrily of its “vengeance” on the Jews. Only we, and the wretched Cardinal (who has only just found it out), are aware that Rachel, the titular Jewess, is actually a Gentile, the Cardinal’s long-lost daughter, and that it is her adoptive father, Eléazar, who has taken bitter vengeance on his Christian persecutors. The irony is typical of a grand opera libretto by Eugène Scribe, and was to an extent reproduced with a similarly heavy hand the following year in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. Both these vastly popular operas gave the citizen’s of Louis-Philippe’s Paris the happy reflection that such medieval horrors could never return to the revolutionary modern world, would henceforth sonly appear on the stage as entertainment, not in the streets. That irony, which would have appealed to Scribe if he were still around, makes these once-popular works very relevant indeed in the present day. A brilliant production of La Juive like that of Peter Konwitschny, which premiered (as Zidovka, naturally) at the Slovak National Opera in Bratislava last Friday after earlier essays in Antwerp and Mannheim, generalizes the message that mindless hate does not pay and the mindless mob is always the enemy of civilization. Individuals can change and grow–or refuse to grow. They can be transformed by love. The mob can be swayed or disbanded but never brought to reason The primacy of the mob–which, rather than any individual, even slimy Léopold or bitter Eléazar, is the villain of La Juive–illustrates a major transformation in grand opera of the post-aristocratic era. In the wake of the French Revolution, the chorus had begun to a occupy a new and leading role. It was not a subtle and seldom an ambivalent role; choral forces are usually of a single mind. They were still, at this time, a background against which more individual dramas were played out: the prisoners of tyranny in Fidelio who remind us that what’s at stake is not just one marriage; the oppressed Swiss peasantry of Guillaume Tell; the indignant and restive Gauls of Norma. They inspire or condemn our principals, but before La Juive, they did not hound them to death. With La Juive, this became an option. The chorus has ceased to be background and has become a Character in the drama, just as electoral and national forces had become political actors. Today, Halévy’s music provides the same musical and melodramatic thrills as ever (if you can find the right singers–you don’t need the military processions), but La Juive has a new relevance. Nor, despite Catholic and Jewish ritual elements, need its production necessarily focus on any one conflict. In the Konwitschny’s staging, all the characters wear identical black suits or dresses, aside from Princess Eudoxie, the Other Woman, in blue with a mink coat, and the Cardinal, who adopts a clerical collar. None of the Jews wear kippoth, but all the Christians wear blue gloves and Jews wear yellow ones. Léopold/Samuel, Eudoxie’s noble husband who is also Rachel’s seducer, wears different pairs, at times removing yellow to reveal blue, adopting or renouncing faiths as the plot requires. The howling mob dresses Rachel and Eléazar as Santa Claus and a pope in derision, and for their execution, they are clothed in white as a bride and groom. Konwitschny’s backdrop (by Johannes Leiacker) is an enormous stained glass window that goes dark during the scene at Eléazar’s house. Vertical metal bars become dungeon cells or city streets by turn. Eudoxie breaks into Eléazar’s home (interrupting his seder) drunk, a gun in one hand and a bottle of Moët in the other. She uses the gun to demolish the bottle. Eleazar disarms her, and later turns the gun on the treacherous Léopold, having caught him attempting to elope with Rachel. Rachel takes the weapon next, to threaten herself in order to calm her father down. The gun is an attention-holding symbol of the violence that will destroy them all, and we follow it from hand to hand through the mazes of Act II. In Act III, we have other symbols. Rachel enters Eudoxie’s room in a trench coat. Neither lady is actually wearing gloves at this point–they are merely painted on, though we do not realize this. When Rachel offers friendship, Eudoxie too reaches out–then draws back her hand. She has never actually touched a person with yellow (Jewish) hands. She must force herself to be “tolerant.” The two women duet while scrubbing their hands free of color in the same bucket. But then Léopold is discovered to be Eudoxie’s husband, and the furious Rachel opens her trench coat–to reveal a belt of dynamite around her waist. Like a suicide bomber, she detonates the unbalanced plot. Konwitschny leads the image into the concerted number that ends Act III (and the first half of a one-intermission performance) by turning the stage into a munitions factory where all the singers (with many different colors of glove) take part in an assembly line to produce belts of explosive. The new SND opera house in Bratislava is a handsome, 850-seat theater in a gracious arts complex. There is an open aisle between rows three and four of the orchestra, and the stage area flows on either side of the pit into the parterre. This permits much breaking of the fourth wall. The mob, waving blue (Christian) flags, overflows into the audience, standing among us in a noisy political rally as they humiliate the Jews. Rachel, in torment, joins us in that intervening aisle to scoff at Léopold/Samuel’s explanations. Eléazar comes out on one of the wings of the stage to reflect on the situation of his great aria, “Rachel, quand du Seigneur.” The funeral march before Act V is played against a black curtain with lights glaring down upon us, making us part of the mob of witnesses, an accusation of our society if you like. This was a great night at the opera, shattering political theater, an engrossing commentary on the present situation of our world. With all its charms and its position as a national capital (close to everywhere, an hour’s train ride from Vienna), Bratislava does not rank high on the international opera circuit. The singers are local. The chorus and the orchestra highly schooled and enthusiastic, but lacking the power of a top-rank organization. Programming is gratifyingly original: the new production last month was Vivaldi’s Arsilda. New works as well as arcana show up regularly. The theater can produce to anyone’s capacity. Konwitschny comes often, to tweak evolving shows outside the major league limelight. Aficionados cross the border often. The conductor, Robert Jindra, a Janacek specialist, was in tight control of the massed chorales that pop in and out of the opera, the grand Te Deums, the imperial processions, the spectacular concertato. Everything sizzled. The finest of the singers was Liudmila Slepneva, who sang Rachel with a deep, womanly power and dignity, rising to brilliance in her more hysterical moments. Her despair in the final scenes was most moving. As her opposite number, Eudoxie, Jana Bernáthová acted well–her hesitation to take Rachel’s yellow hand was a striking instant–but sang with a light, watery coloratura providing little body to the high notes and trills. Michal Lehotsky, whose portrayal of the reviled Eléazar was sturdy and passionate, sang the great Seder invocation in Act II and the reflective aria often cut from Act III with a sweeping tone that seemed inspired by the ritual occasion to a shimmering beauty. In contrast, his “Rachel, quand du Seigneur” was gruff, as if the acute self-questioning of his situation was too great for lyricism. Konwitschny retains the bigoted offstage chorus that follows (the singers, however, were not offstage) and Eléazar’s response, the cabaletta of rage in which Eléazar resolves to let his daughter die rather than yield her to his enemies by revealing her identity. This cabaletta, which Neil Shicoff omitted at the Met but Roberto Alagna has been restoring in his performances, was sung with the proper passion, but again Lehotsky let his desperation push him out of more elegant way of singing it. Juhan Tralla sang an athletic but not terribly sensuous Léopold, and omitted the lovely serenade addressed to Rachel. Peter Mikuláš sang Cardinal de Brogni with the proper resonance and spiritual authority, though unable to reach the low E (is it an E?) called for by “Si la rigueur.” His prison confrontations with father and daughter (in which the actual relationships are painfully clear, to us and in the score, though he remains in ignorance) were very intense. Pavol Remenár sang Ruggiero with a gravelly bass but gave a delightfully physical performance–people were always knocking him off platforms or down flights of stairs, and he was always on his feet, emoting, in no time. The opera was sung in the original French with Slovak surtitles; the people around me seemed mostly to be speaking German. Half the audience stood, enthusiastically, when Konwitschny appeared, but there were also some catcalls. I was among the former group. There will be a couple of other performances of the opera, with a slightly different cast, at the end of the month. If you’re nearby (Vienna, Brno, Budapest), go for it. Photos: Pavol Breier
This week rather than the usual full-length work “Trove Thursday” offers instead a short yet potent opera: Massenet’s La Navarraise in a live performance featuring Rita Gorr as Anita and George Shirley as Araquil. The composer’s veristic épisode lyrique in two short acts premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1894, the same year as the first performance of Thaïs and just two years after Werther. London assembled a starry cast which included Emma Calvé and Pol Plançon both of whom were also featured in the Met premiere the following year where it was initially paired with Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice! During that first season, the Met also variously presented the Massenet with two acts of Les Pêcheurs de Perles, the first three acts of Aïda or an entire Trovatore. It then disappeared for twenty-five years until it was revived in 1921 for Geraldine Farrar and was presented on occasion on a double-bill with Leoni’s L’Oracolo starring, of course, Antonio Scotti as Cim-Fen. However, Navarraise eventually fell out of favor until the mid-1970s when surprisingly two studio recordings appeared nearly simultaneously. One featuring Marilyn Horne, Placido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes remains in print , while the more acclaimed CBS version with the unexpected Lucia Popp in the title role alongside Alain Vanzo and Gérard Souzay has never, to my knowledge, been issued on CD. After this 1963 performance, Navarraise only reappeared at Carnegie Hall in 2010 in a concert performance featuring Elina Garanca (as a rather icy Anita) and Roberto Alagna. It was conducted by Alberto Veronesi in one of his fleeting appearances as the head of Opera Orchestra of New York; a rumored commercial recording featuring this trio never materialized. Last summer saw a semi-staged revival of Navarraise as part of the Bard Summerscape Puccini Festival where it was paired with Le Villi. In a piece for The New York Times, Our Own JJ found the Puccini more effective than the Massenet. Those who enjoy Navarraise might want to check out a previous Massenet-Gorr “Trove Thursday” offering —Hérodiade co-starring Régine Crespin, Guy Chauvet and Robert Massard. Although I had scheduled this opera months ago, this week by chance I was reading a collection of tales purportedly written by another Navarraise: the Heptaméron by the renowned Marguerite de Navarre. I had never heard of this fascinating 16th century work, a French equivalent of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio’s Decameron, until I saw it cited as the source of a quote prominently featured in André Aciman’s ravishing 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name which I belatedly just read. Massenet: La Navarraise Carnegie Hall January 18, 1963 in-house recording Anita: Rita Gorr Araquil: George Shirley Garrido: Fernando Corena Remigio: Raymond Michalski Conductor: Robert Lawrence As always, this week’s “Trove Thursday” offering can be downloaded via the audio-player included on this page. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory. In addition, this week’s fiery Massenet, last week’s Olympic-themed baroque opera and more than 60 other “Trove Thursday” podcasts are available from iTunes (for free!) or via any RSS reader .
Productions are in order; bold indicates a debut; I may have omitted some one-off cast combos. On the whole: as exciting as this season is weak. Norma (new David McVicar production) Radvanovsky, DiDonato, Calleja, Rose / Rizzi (September-October) Rebeka, DiDonato, Calleja, Rose / Rizzi (October) Meade, Barton, Calleja, Rose / Colaneri (December) Having middling '90s throwback Carlo Rizzi in the pit instead of the 2013 revival's Riccardo Frizza is about the only less-than-thrilling element of this opener. Three premiere principals who've proved not only star-quality sound but bel canto mastery, interesting alternate ladies afterwards... And David McVicar is not only an brilliant director but one who has done great things with Sondra Radvanovsky particularly, from 2009's Trovatore to 2016's Donizetti queens. Les Contes d’Hoffmann Grigolo, Morley, Hartig, Volkova, Erraught, Naouri, Mortagne / Debus (September-October) I rather liked Grigolo in this season's Romeo, but this Bart Sher show requires him to sustain a character for longer stretches than the Gounod opera, making his choppy sense of phrase more of a liability. Still, there are enough elements that could go well (including new-to-the-house Irish mezzo Tara Erraught as Niklausse) on top of an excellent production. Die Zauberflöte Schultz, Lewek, Castronovo, Werba, Van Horn, Kehrer / Levine (September-October) Müller, Lewek, Castronovo, Gunn, Walker, Kehrer / de Waart (November-December, family version in English) The conductors should make both the regular and "family" versions work. Besides returning names (including Kathryn Lewek, the best Queen of the Night I've ever heard), South African (by way of Juilliard) soprano Golda Shultz's debut as Pamina should be interesting. Incidentally, Rene Pape is scheduled for one performance of Sarastro on October 14. La Boheme Blue, Kele, Popov/Borras/Thomas, Meachem/Simpson, Rock, Soar/Rose, Plishka / Soddy (October) Hartig, Kele, Thomas, Meachem, Rock, Rose, Pliskha / Soddy (November) Yoncheva, Phillips, Fabiano, Lavrov, Rose, Plishka / Armiliato (February-March) Some new faces debuting in this eternal Zeffirelli production, most notably Oxonian conductor Alexander Soddy and American soprano Angel Blue. But the surest bet is the last cast, with young Americans Susanna Phillips and Michael Fabiano in roles they've made their own. Turandot Dyka, Agresta, Alvarez, Morris / Rizzi (October-November) Serafin, Yu, Alvarez, Tsymbalyuk / Armiliato (March-April) Some unexpected casting choices here. Oksana Dyka, decent but somewhat faceless in this season's Jenufa, at least has done Tosca and Aida here before. The alternate Turandot, Martina Serafin, was last seen here as an enchantingly responsive Marschallin! Since then she's taken on the really big parts, though not at the Met: Abigaille, Brünnhilde, Lady Macbeth, and Turandot. Could go well... or not. Hei-Kyung Hong reprises one of her signature roles once with each cast. The Exterminating Angel (new Tom Cairns production) Luna, Echalaz, Matthews, Bevan, Coote, Rice, Davies, Kaiser, Antoun, Portillo, Moore, Gilfry, Burdette, Van Horn, Tomlinson / Adès (October-November) The two prior operas of Thomas Adès have not lacked good music nor good libretti: it's the combination of these into an interesting, human opera that hasn't quite come off. Perhaps a show based on a Luis Buñuel movie (and directed by the librettist) will do the trick. There is, in any case, an impressive lineup of British and American vocal talent involved. Madama Butterfly He, Zifchak, Aronica, Bizic / Bignamini (November) Jaho, Zifchak, Aronica/Chapa, Frontali / Armiliato (February-March) So after doing one emergency sub performance (for Ruth Ann Swenson in Traviata) at the Met in 2008, Ermonela Jaho never appears here again... until a decade later, when she headlines a revival of Butterfly. The fall run brings new Italian conductor Jader Bignamini. Thaïs Pérez, Borras, Finley / Villaume (November-December) Ailyn Pérez, an outstanding Mimi this season, takes a full-on star vehicle opposite Gerald Finley. They don't quite have the name recognition of Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson, for whom this show was made, but this could be one of the stealth successes of the season. Requiem Stoyanova, Semenchuk, Antonenko, Furlanetto / Levine (November-December) I don't recall recurring concert performances scheduled as part of the season before, but if any plotless piece could work this way, it's Verdi's famously dramatic-operatic Requiem. These shows will be almost a generation after the April 29, 2001 performance at Carnegie that everyone who attended will still wax on about (shouldn't the Met or Carnegie release a recording of this at some point?). Levine then had Renee Fleming, Olga Borodina, Marcelo Giordani, and Rene Pape at or near the height of their powers (though Giordani was a bit of a weak link, and I'd like to have heard how Ramon Vargas did in a similar performance on the Met's Japanese tour). Here it looks like Aleksandrs Antonenko will be an upgrade at tenor, but mezzo Ekaterina Semenchuk - another singer not seen at the house for a while - is an odd choice, not having impressed in her appearances so far. Le Nozze di Figaro Plachetka, Karg, Willis-Sørensen, Pisaroni, Malfi / Bicket (December) Abdrazakov, Sierra, Yoncheva, Kwiecien, Leonard / Bicket (December-January) The names in the latter cast may be more recognizable, but I suspect the former (with debuting German soprano Christiane Karg as Susanna) may provide more of Mozart's ensemble glory. The Merry Widow Graham, Groves, Chuchman, Portillo, Allen / Stare (December) Graham, Groves, Chuchman, Stayton, Allen / Stare (December-January) Not a bad cast for the most cast-proof show the Met has debuted in decades. Who knew that comic timing drives comedies? Young American conductor Ward Stare debuts in the pit. Hansel and Gretel (family version in English) Oropesa, Erraught, Zajick, Siegel, Kelsey / Runnicles (December-January) McKay, Gillebo, Zajick, Siegel, Croft / Runnicles (December 28) Good casting for a kids' piece. Tosca (new David McVicar production) Opolais, Kaufmann, Terfel / Nelsons (NYE-January) Netrebko, Alvarez, Volle / de Billy (April-May) Netrebko, Alvarez, Gagnidze / de Billy (May) I believe Sondra Radvanovsky was originally supposed to headline this new production, which attempts to wash away the much-hated Luc Bondy version of 2009. Instead we get Kristine Opolais, the least interesting part of both Richard Eyre's wretchedly bad Manon Lescaut and Mary Zimmerman's otherwise-brilliant Rusalka. (She has succeeded in more direct Puccini, though.) But perhaps it doesn't matter - except as a what-if - when Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel have shown themselves of carrying this piece on their own. And though she has less male star power, I think Tosca might be a very good part for Anna Netrebko. Cav/Pag Semenchuk, Alagna, Lučić; Kurzak, Alagna, Gagnidze, Arduini / Luisotti (January) Westbroek, Alagna, Lučić; Kurzak, Alagna, Gagnidze, Arduini / Luisotti (January-February) I'm not sure whether the Alagna who shows up will be the no-voice one of the Manon Lescaut premiere or the respectable-sounding and insightful one of the end of that run and Butterfly, but his inconsistency has been characteristic since the beginning of his international career. McVicar's rendering of the double-bill is outstanding, and San Francisco's Nicola Luisotti has done magical things in his too-rare Met appearances. L’Elisir d’Amore Yende, Polenzani, Luciano, D'Arcangelo / Hindoyan (January-February) Both Yende and Polenzani have an emotional transparency that should work excellently in this piece. Il Trovatore Lee, Agresta, Rachvelishvili, Kelsey, Kocán / Levine (January-February) Lee, Agresta, Rachvelishvili, Salsi, Youn / Levine (February) Anita Rachvelishvili moves up a vocal weight class with her first Met Azucenas (she did her first performances of the part recently in London), opposite two baritones moving up from Marcello to Di Luna. But with outstanding Korean spinto Yonghoon Lee in the title role and Levine in the pit, this is yet another promising staple. Parsifal Vogt, Herlitzius, Mattei, Nikitin, Pape / Nézet-Séguin (February) The most significant revival of the season. Yannick Nézet-Séguin will go from "Music Director Designate" to the actual thing in 2020, but he's debuting German repertory cornerstones until then. This spring it's Flying Dutchman, but next year he'll lead the first revival of the most significant and successful Met Wagner production in a long, long time: Francois Girard's 2013 Parsifal. (Not least in that success was Daniele Gatti's intensely concentrated conducting, so there's a lot to live up to there.) He has the low-voiced end of the original cast, with Peter Mattei's Amfortas, Evgeny Nikitin's Klingsor, and René Pape's Gurnemanz all returning. The new parts of the cast are significant as well: dramatic soprano Evelyn Herlitzius finally makes her Met debut as Kundry, and Klaus Florian Vogt returns to Wagner a dozen years after making the most stunning - and most stunningly ignored - Met debut of our era as Lohengrin. (Vogt does return to the Met before this, in next month's Fidelio.) Semiramide Meade, DeShong, Camarena, Abdrazakov, Green / Benini (February-March) Good cast for a Rossini rarity. After her scheduled performances of Italiana this season went to debuting Italian mezzo Marianna Pizzolato, I do wonder whether Elizabeth DeShong will in fact sing these performances as Arsace. Elektra Goerke, van den Heever, Schuster, Morris, Petrenko / Nézet-Séguin (March) Christine Goerke's titanic concert performance of this early Strauss opera with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony (October 2016 at Carnegie) dwarfed the dull, homogenized new Met version last season. The change from Salonen's civilizing version to Yannick Nézet-Séguin's characteristic visceral style should do much, and Goerke's ability to sing through the cacophonic title part lyrically can't be missed, but full success may require a revival stage director unafraid to depart from Chereau's drab vision. Così fan tutte (new Phelim McDermott production) Majeski, Malfi, O'Hara, Bliss, Plachetka, Maltman / Robertson (March- Though the cast looks good and the visuals interesting, David Robertson was responsible for the worst-conducted night of Mozart I've ever heard at the Met, so I'll wait and see. The production is new to the Met but already debuted at ENO. Lucia di Lammermoor Peretyatko, Grigolo, Cavalletti, Kowaljow / Abbado (March-April) Pratt, Grigolo, Cavalletti/Salsi, Kowaljow / Abbado (April) Yende, Fabiano, Kelsey, Vinogradov / Abbado (April-May) I was listening to Pretty Yende last night in Puritani, thinking that the Met should hire her for Lucia... and here we go. She gets the better Edgardo in Michael Fabiano as well: the role depends far too much on line and phrase to expect much on the whole from Vittorio Grigolo (though the Italian will surely deliver exciting high notes). Luisa Miller Yoncheva, Beczala, Domingo, Petrova, Vinogradov, Belosselskiy / Levine (March-April) Sonya Yoncheva's manner is a bit on the chilly side to get all the pathos of the title part's great duets, but the men involved should make much of this early Verdi. Cendrillon (new Laurent Pelly production) DiDonato, Kim, Coote, Blythe, Naouri / de Billy (April-May) So, we're officially in the part of Joyce DiDonato's career when she makes big houses put on silly shows. Good cast, seems charming enough, and though Laurent Pelly (Fille, Manon) hasn't done a really good production here, he hasn't made any terrible ones either. Roméo et Juliette Hymel, Pérez, Deshayes, Hopkins, Youn / Domingo (April-May) Interesting cast, very good production, but Domingo in the pit is a deal-breaker. If you have the itch, just see Yende and Costello next month (which has many fewer good alternative options than spring 2018).
An authentically reactionary revival of Franco Zeffirelli‘s sacred production of Puccini’s Tosca is the highlight of the Met’s 2017-2018 season. The tragically underrepresented Sir David McVicar, absent from the Met for nearly two weeks now, has consented to do traffic direction for the cast of Kristine Opolais, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel, all of whom will surely show up. More dreary news follows the jump. New Productions Norma – Vincenzo Bellini OPENING NIGHT Opening: September 25, 2017 Conductors: Carlo Rizzi / Joseph Colaneri Production: Sir David McVicar Set Designer: Robert Jones Costume Designer: Moritz Junge Lighting Designer: Paule Constable Movement Director: Leah Hausman Live in HD: October 7, 2017 The season opens with a new production of Bellini’s bel canto tragedy Norma, starring Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, which she has sung to acclaim at the Met in 2013, as well as at the Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Lyric Opera of Chicago—making her one of the world’s leading interpreters of the iconic title character. Joyce DiDonato co-stars as Norma’s colleague and rival, Adalgisa, opposite Joseph Calleja as Pollione and Matthew Rose as Oroveso. On October 16 and 20, Marina Rebeka will make her Met role debut as the Druid priestess, Norma. Beginning December 1, the production will star Angela Meade as Norma with Jamie Barton reprising the role of Adalgisa and led by Joseph Colaneri. Sir David McVicar directs the production, having staged seven Met productions including Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Handel’s Giulio Cesare, the double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux. The Exterminating Angel – Thomas Adès MET PREMIERE Opening: October 26, 2017 Conductor: Thomas Adès Libretto: Tom Cairns, in collaboration with the composer Production: Tom Cairns Set and Costume Designer: Hildegard Bechtler Lighting Designer: Jon Clark Projection Designer: Tal Yarden Choreographer: Amir Hosseinpour Live in HD: November 18, 2017 The Exterminating Angel has its Met premiere, conducted by the composer, Thomas Adès. The 2016 opera, co-commissioned by the Met and sung in English, is based on the screenplay by Luis Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza for the acclaimed 1962 Buñuel film. Directed by the librettist Tom Cairns, the ensemble cast features Audrey Luna as Leticia Maynar; Amanda Echalaz as Lucia de Nobile; Sally Matthews as Silvia de Ávila and Sophie Bevan as Beatriz, both in Met debuts; Alice Coote as Leonora Palma; Christine Rice as Blanca Delgado; Iestyn Davies as Francisco de Ávila; Joseph Kaiser as Edundo de Nobile; Frédéric Antoun in his Met debut as Raúl Yebenes; David Portillo as Edmundo; David Adam Moore in his Met debut as Col. Álvaro Gómez; Rod Gilfry as Alberto Roc; Kevin Burdette as Señor Russell; Christian Van Horn as Julio; and John Tomlinson as Dr Carlos Conde. The Exterminating Angel is a co-commission and co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Royal Danish Theatre; and Salzburg Festival, where the production premiered in 2016. Tosca – Giacomo Puccini NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA Opening: December 31, 2017 Conductor: Andris Nelsons / Bertrand de Billy Production: Sir David McVicar Set and Costume Designer: John Macfarlane Lighting Designer: David Finn Movement Director: Leah Hausman Live in HD: January 27, 2018 Andris Nelsons conducts a new staging of Puccini’s dramatic tragedy, directed by Sir David McVicar. Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann star as the heroine Tosca and her lover Cavaradossi, with Bryn Terfel as the villainous Scarpia. In April, Anna Netrebko adds a new role to her Met repertory as the title diva, opposite Marcelo Álvarez as Cavaradossi. Michael Volle and George Gagnidze share the role of Scarpia during April and May performances with Bertrand de Billy conducting. Così fan tutte – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Opening: March 15, 2018 Conductor: David Robertson Production: Phelim McDermott Set Designer: Tom Pye Costume Designer: Laura Hopkins Lighting Designer: Paule Constable Live in HD: March 31, 2018 Phelim McDermott returns to the Met with a new staging of Mozart’s comedy Così fan tutte, led by David Robertson. The production, set in Coney Island during the 1950s, features Amanda Majeski and Serena Malfi as the conflicted sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella; Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara as their feisty maid, Despina; Ben Bliss and Adam Plachetka as the sisters’ fiancés, Ferrando and Guglielmo; and Christopher Maltman as the cynical Don Alfonso. Così fan tutte is a co-production with the English National Opera, where this staging premiered in 2014, in collaboration with Improbable. Cendrillon – Jules Massenet MET PREMIERE Opening: April 12, 2018 Conductor: Bertrand de Billy Production: Laurent Pelly Set Designer: Barbara de Limburg Costume Designer: Laurent Pelly Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler Choreographer: Laura Scozzi Live in HD: April 28, 2018 Massenet’s enchanting opera Cendrillon, based on the Cinderella story, premieres at the Met conducted by Bertrand de Billy in a staging by Laurent Pelly, whose Met credits include staging Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment and Massenet’s Manon. Joyce DiDonato stars as the title character, a role she has sung to acclaim at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, The Santa Fe Opera, and Royal Opera, Covent Garden. The cast also features Kathleen Kim as the Fairy Godmother, Alice Coote as Prince Charming, Stephanie Blythe as the evil stepmother Madame de la Haltière, and Laurent Naouri as Pandolfe. Cendrillon is produced in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie, Brussels; and Opéra de Lille. This production was first performed at The Santa Fe Opera in 2006. Requiem – Giuseppe Verdi CONCERT Opening: November 24, 2017 Conductor: James Levine Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine will conduct four concert performances of Verdi’s Requiem, a powerful meditation on death, featuring soloists Krassimira Stoyanova, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Ferruccio Furlanetto, along with the Met’s orchestra and chorus. Noteworthy Met Debuts Notable Met debuts this season include Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught as Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (September 26); South African soprano Golda Schultz as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (September 27); British conductor Alexander Soddy leading La Bohème (October 2); American soprano Angel Blue as Mimì in La Bohème (October 2); British soprano Sally Matthews as Silvia de Ávila in The Exterminating Angel (October 26): Italian conductor Jader Bignamini leading Madama Butterfly (November 2); German soprano Christiane Karg as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (December 6); American conductor Ward Stare leading The Merry Widow (December 14); Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan leading L’Elisir d’Amore (January 16); Italian baritone Davide Luciano as Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore (January 16); German soprano Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry in Parsifal (February 5); German mezzo-soprano Michaela Schuster as Klytämnestra in Elektra (March 1); and Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov as Walter in Luisa Miller (March 29). In addition, Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinyt?-Tyla makes her first Met appearance, leading the MET Orchestra in a Carnegie Hall concert on May 18. Repertory Highlights The 2017-18 season will feature 20 revivals of works by 14 composers starring many of the world’s leading opera singers and conductors. Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts Mozart’s opera, Die Zauberflöte, sung in full-length performances in its original German. The cast features Golda Schultz as Pamina, Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, Charles Castronovo as Tamino, Markus Werba as Papageno, Christian Van Horn as Sprecher, and Tobias Kehrer as Sarastro. Il Trovatore, also conducted by Levine, stars Maria Agresta as Leonora, Anita Rachvelishvili as Azucena, Yonghoon Lee as Manrico, Quinn Kelsey and Luca Salsi as Count di Luna, and Štefan Kocán and Kwangchul Youn as Ferrando. Levine also conducts a rare revival of Luisa Miller, which has not been seen at the Met since 2006. Sonya Yoncheva sings the title role, opposite Piotr Beczala as Luisa’s lover Rodolfo, in the story of a young woman who sacrifices her own happiness in an attempt to save her father’s life. The cast also includes Plácido Domingo as Luisa’s father Miller with Olesya Petrova as Federica, and Alexander Vinogradov and Dmitry Belosselskiy as Walter and Wurm, the ruthless men determined to tear Luisa and Rodolfo apart. Met Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a revival of Parsifal, starring Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role, with Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry, Peter Mattei as Amfortas, Evgeny Nikitin as Klingsor, and René Pape as Gurnemanz. In March, Nézet-Séguin returns to the Met to conduct Elektra starring Christine Goerke in the title role, with Elza van den Heever as Chrysothemis, Michaela Schuster as Klytämnestra, Jay Hunter Morris as Aegisth, and Mikhail Petrenko as Orest. Rossini’s rarity set in ancient Babylon, Semiramide, which has not been seen at the Met in 25 years, will be conducted by Maurizio Benini and feature Angela Meade in the title role, with Elizabeth DeShong as Arsace, Javier Camarena as Idreno, Ildar Abdrazakov as Assur, and Ryan Speedo Green as Oroe. Ailyn Pérez stars in her role debut as the title character in Thaïs opposite Gerald Finley as Athanaël, with Jean-François Borras as Nicias and David Pittsinger as Palémon. The performances will be conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. Les Contes d’Hoffmann, conducted by Johannes Debus, stars Vittorio Grigolo as Hoffmann with Erin Morley as Olympia, Anita Hartig as Antonia/Stella, Oksana Volkova as Giulietta, Tara Erraught as Nicklausse/The Muse, Laurent Naouri as the Four Villains, and Christophe Mortagne as the Four Servants. Three Puccini revivals will be presented in the 2017-18 season. La Bohème stars Angel Blue as Mimì, opposite Dmytro Popov as Rodolfo with Brigitta Kele as Musetta and Lucas Meachem as Marcello. Later performances star Anita Hartig and Sonya Yoncheva as Mimì; Jean-François Borras, Russell Thomas, and Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo; and Michael Todd Simpson as Marcello. The opera will be conducted by Alexander Soddy and Marco Armiliato. Madama Butterfly stars Hui He and Ermonela Jaho as Cio-Cio-San with Maria Zifchak as Suzuki, Roberto Aronica and Luis Chapa as Pinkerton, and David Bizic, Dwayne Croft, and Roberto Frontali as Sharpless. Jader Bignamini and Marco Armiliato conduct all performances. Turandot features Oksana Dyka and Martina Serafin sharing the title role of the icy princess, with Maria Agresta, Hei-Kyung Hong, and Guanqun Yu as Liù. Marcelo Álvarez reprises the role of Calàf, and James Morris and Alexander Tsymbalyuk share the role of Timur. Le Nozze di Figaro stars Rachel Willis-Sørensen and Sonya Yoncheva as the Countess, Christiane Karg and Nadine Sierra as Susanna, Serena Malfi and Isabel Leonard as Cherubino, Luca Pisaroni and Mariusz Kwiecien as the Count, and Adam Plachetka and Ildar Abdrazakov as the title character. Harry Bicket conducts all performances. Susan Graham reprises Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow conducted by Ward Stare. The cast also includes Andriana Chuchman as Valencienne, Paul Groves as Danilo, David Portillo as Camille de Rosillon, and Thomas Allen as Baron Mirko Zeta. The double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci is conducted by Nicola Luisotti, which features Roberto Alagna in the leading tenor roles of Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci. Cavalleria Rusticana also features Ekaterina Semenchuk and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza, and Željko Lu?i? as Alfio. Pagliacci stars Aleksandra Kurzak as Nedda, George Gagnidze as Tonio, and Alessio Arduini as Silvio. Pretty Yende and Matthew Polenzani star as the spirited Adina and Nemorino, the simple peasant who falls in love with her, in L’Elisir d’Amore, which also stars Davide Luciano as Belcore and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Dulcamara. All performances are conducted by Domingo Hindoyan. Lucia di Lammermoor returns to the Met starring Olga Peretyatko, Jessica Pratt, and Pretty Yende in the title role. Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano share the role of Edgardo with Massimo Cavalletti, Luca Salsi, and Quinn Kelsey as Enrico and Vitalij Kowaljow and Alexander Vinogradov as Raimondo. Roberto Abbado conducts all performances. Ailyn Pérez and Bryan Hymel star as the doomed lovers in Roméo et Juliette with Joshua Hopkins as Mercutio and Kwangchul Youn as Frère Laurent. Plácido Domingo conducts all performances. Holiday Presentations The Met will stage two holiday presentations during the 2017-18 season: Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Richard Jones’s staging of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Continuing a tradition that began in 2006, the English-language, abridged performances, designed to make the opera more accessible, will be sold at reduced ticket prices for both operas. The cast of The Magic Flute includes Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Pamina, Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, Charles Castronovo as Tamino, Nathan Gunn as Papageno, Alfred Walker as the Speaker, and Tobias Kehrer as Sarastro. Edo de Waart will conduct the performances beginning November 25. The cast of Hansel and Gretel features Lisette Oropesa as Gretel, Tara Erraught as Hansel, Dolora Zajick as Gertrude, Gerhard Siegel as the Witch, and Quinn Kelsey as Peter. Donald Runnicles will conduct the performances opening on December 18. Photo by Met Technical Department
Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) Les Contes d'Hoffmann Roberto Alagna, José Van Dam, Natalie Dessay, Leontina Vaduva, Sumi Jo, Juanita Lascarro, Catherine Dubosc, Gilles Rangon, Gabriel Bacquier, Doris Lamprecht Orchestre et Choeur de l'Opéra National de Lyon Kent Nagano Erato 0630-14330-2 (1996) [flac, cue, log, scans] I couldn't resist posting the fictional ETA Hoffmann next to the real Hoffmann of yesterday's post.
Gounod: Roméo et Juliette The cast of outstanding singers includes the following: Roberto Alagna (Roméo), and Angela Gheorghiu (Juliette). The Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and Chorus of Prague, Anton Guadagno (conductor) and Barbara Willis Sweete (director). Shakespeare’s lovers never looked and sounded as good as in this romantic film adaptation of Charles Gounod’s beloved opera Roméo et Juliette, starring two of classical music’s most popular and successful couples, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. A spectacular medieval castle and its surrounding countryside provide the breathtaking setting for this timeless tale of warring families and star-crossed lovers. Conductor Anton Guadagno leads the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra through the opera’s beautiful arias and duets in this fresh interpretation of Gounod’s masterwork. Here is the marriage scene from this Opera:
Great opera singers