UPDATE: Met’s HD Broadcast Schedule for 2008-2009 can be found here.
If you haven’t seen this yet, Met announces new season – you can read all about it here. Among the predictable choices are ever so popular La Boheme (Maija Kovalevska/Anna Netrebko and Ramon Vargas), Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin (with Karita Matilla and Thomas Hampson), Madama Butterfly, Magic Flute and The Ring…
But there is some interesting stuff I would love to see, including Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and Dvorak’s Rusalka. Those of you from New York I send my evilest thoughts of jealousy…
Here’s the official press release with all the information:
March 4, 2008
New York, NY (March 4, 2008)—The Metropolitan Opera’s 2008-09 season will pay tribute to the company’s extraordinary history on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, while also emphasizing the Met’s renewed commitment to advancing the art form. General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine jointly announced plans for the new season today, which will include six new productions, 18 revivals, the final performances of Otto Schenk’s production of Wagner’s Ring cycle, conducted by Levine, and two gala celebrations—featuring many of the world’s greatest singers, directors, designers, and conductors.
Opening Night on Monday, September 22, will be a gala performance starring Renée Fleming in three of her most acclaimed roles (Violetta in La Traviata, the title role in Massenet’s Manon, and the Countess in Capriccio). A gala on Sunday, March 15, will celebrate the company’s 125th anniversary, as well as legendary tenor Plácido Domingo’s 40th anniversary with the Met. In a pre-season event on Thursday, September 18, Levine will conduct a free performance of the Verdi Requiem to mark the anniversary of the death of Luciano Pavarotti.
The first new production of the season will be the Met premiere of John Adams’s contemporary masterpiece Doctor Atomic—the first time a work by Adams has been performed at the Met—in a new production by Penny Woolcock. Other new production highlights include the Met debut of celebrated theater director Robert Lepage with his reconceived production of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust and the return of director Mary Zimmerman with a new production of Bellini’s La Sonnambula. These three productions were among those added to the 2008-09 schedule by Gelb. (Gelb’s first complete season will be in 2009-10.)
Gelb also announced the expansion of The Met: Live in HD, the company’s highly successful series of live opera transmissions into movie theaters around the world. The series will span the entire season, beginning in October, 2008, and will include ten transmissions, up from eight this season (operas and dates will be announced in the coming months). The company’s educational program of transmitting live HD performances free of charge into New York City schools will roll out nationally in 2008-09. The Met will also be broadening its visual arts program and will continue to develop its various other audience development initiatives.
“We’re celebrating our 125th anniversary, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Gelb. “We want to ensure that the Met will thrive for another 125 years.”
Levine said, “This is such a thrilling time at the Met—wonderfully stimulating and artistically challenging, lots of new repertoire and many new productions, as well as such exciting new media initiatives! It’s a great surge of energy and imagination.”
The first new production of the 2008-09 season, John Adams’s Doctor Atomic in a new staging by Penny Woolcock, will feature Gerald Finley in the title role of J. Robert Oppenheimer and conductor Alan Gilbert in his Met debut (October 13). Robert Lepage directs Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, with Marcello Giordani in the title role, Susan Graham, and John Relyea, conducted by James Levine (November 7). Renée Fleming stars in Massenet’s Thaïs with Thomas Hampson and Michael Schade in a John Cox production that originated at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Jesús López-Cobos conducts (December 8). Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna star in Puccini’s La Rondine, conducted by Marco Armiliato and directed by Nicolas Joël in a production that was originally mounted by the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (December 31). Verdi’s Il Trovatore, directed by David McVicar, is a Met co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera, featuring Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, Salvatore Licitra, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda (February 16). Mary Zimmerman, who directed Natalie Dessay in this season’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, returns to the Met to stage Bellini’s La Sonnambula, starring Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez, conducted by Evelino Pidò (March 2).
In addition to La Damnation de Faust and the Ring, Levine will conduct the revival of Mark Morris’s Orfeo ed Euridice (January 9). The MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall returns for its 19th season, with Levine conducting all three concerts on Sunday, October 5, 2008, Sunday, January 25, 2009, and Thursday, May 21, 2009.
Daniel Barenboim makes his Met debut conducting Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde on Friday, November 28, starring Katarina Dalayman, Michelle DeYoung, Peter Seiffert, and René Pape. On Sunday, December 14, Barenboim will perform the first piano recital on the Met stage since Vladimir Horowitz’s concerts in the 1980s with an all-Liszt program, including transcriptions from three Verdi operas. Seiji Ozawa returns to the Met for the first time since 1992 to conduct a revival of Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades.
The Verdi Requiem features soprano Barbara Frittoli, mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina, tenor Marcello Giordani, and bass James Morris. Three thousand free tickets will be made available to the public; details for ticket distribution will be announced in September.
A Season of Stars
The world’s greatest singers continue to find an artistic home at the Met during the 2008-09 season. The roster includes Ildar Abdrazakov, Roberto Alagna, Simone Alberghini, Marcelo Álvarez, Roberto Aronica, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Piotr Beczala, Kim Begley, Marco Berti, Stephanie Blythe, Olga Borodina, Johan Botha, Christine Brewer, Lawrence Brownlee, Joseph Calleja, Alessandro Corbelli, Dwayne Croft, José Cura, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Diana Damrau, Mark Delavan, Danielle de Niese, Natalie Dessay, Michelle DeYoung, Luciana D’Intino, Albert Dohmen, Plácido Domingo, Giuseppe Filianoti, Gerald Finley, Renée Fleming, Juan Diego Flórez, Nuccia Focile, Christian Franz, Barbara Frittoli, Roberto Frontali, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, Elīna Garanča, Lisa Gasteen, Angela Gheorghiu, Marcello Giordani, Massimo Giordano, Susan Graham, Jill Grove, Andrea Gruber, Carlo Guelfi, Maria Guleghina, Thomas Hampson, Anja Harteros, Ben Heppner, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Soile Isokoski, Tamar Iveri, Maija Kovalevska, Aleksandra Kurzak, Mariusz Kwiecien, Isabel Leonard, Salvatore Licitra, Željko Lučić, Aquiles Machado, Peter Mattei, Karita Mattila, Waltraud Meier, James Morris, Heidi Grant Murphy, Yvonne Naef, Anna Netrebko, Eric Owens, René Pape, Adrianne Pieczonka, Dimitri Pittas, Ewa Podleś, Rodion Pogossov, Matthew Polenzani, Patricia Racette, Sondra Radvanovsky, Samuel Ramey, John Relyea, Michael Schade, Petra-Maria Schnitzer, Erwin Schrott, Peter Seiffert, Krassimira Stoyanova, Bryn Terfel, John Tomlinson, Ramón Vargas, Rolando Villazón, Deborah Voigt, Jon Frederic West, and Dolora Zajick.
The Met: Live in HD and Educational and Public Initiatives
The Met’s public initiatives will expand in the 2008-09 season, reaching more people around the world and cultivating younger audiences through enhanced education programs.
The Met’s Live in HD transmissions will expand from eight to ten live transmissions during its third consecutive season, which begins in October. The Met: Live in HD is now presented in 17 countries around the world; 590,000 tickets have been sold to date this season. Fifteen cinemas in France join the international network with live transmissions of La Bohème (Saturday, April 5) and La Fille du Régiment (Saturday, April 26). Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand are other new locations this year.
EMI is releasing six of the productions on DVD in the coming months: Hansel and Gretel, Macbeth, and from the 2006-07 season, Tan Dun’s The First Emperor will be issued in May 2008. Manon Lescaut, Peter Grimes, and La Bohème will be available on DVD later in the year. The Met: Live in HD is made possible by a generous grant from the Neubauer Family Foundation.
Live in HD in NYC Schools, the Met’s new program offering free opera transmissions to New York City schools in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the Metropolitan Opera Guild, will expand in 2008-09 beyond the city’s five boroughs to become a national pilot program. By the end of the current season, the Met will have reached more than 7,000 public school students and teachers with its free transmissions. This season, the Met expanded its overall education efforts to include backstage visits for students, including Q&As with artists, and free student Open Houses, in which students attended final dress rehearsals and learned about how scenery and costumes were constructed. Program and curriculum guides were created for in-school use in conjunction with the HD screenings.
The Met will host Open House Dress Rehearsals for three new productions in 2008-09, with the operas and dates to be announced before the opening of the new season.
The Met’s successful Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Rush Ticket program will continue for a third season, thanks to continued support of Met Board member Agnes Varis and her husband, Karl Leichtman. The program provides up to two tickets per customer for orchestra seats regularly priced at $100 per ticket at the sharply discounted price of $20, available two hours before curtain time. Beginning last season, the Met reserved 50 Varis Rush tickets per performance for senior citizens. As of today, the Met has provided Varis Rush tickets to 75 performances in the current 2007-08 season (15,000 tickets).
The Met continues to offer reduced-price tickets for selected performances for full-time students, age 29 and under, at $25 for weekday performances and $35 for Friday and Saturday performances.
The Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met
Gallery Met, under the direction of Dodie Kazanjian, will continue to expand its programs in 2008-09 by deepening its commitment to contemporary visual artists and introducing new ways to experience their work.
For the first time at the Met, artists will design original artwork for the fire screen, the 54’ by 54’ metal curtain that opera-goers will see when they come into the theater. The initial design, by celebrated artist Jeff Koons, will debut at the Met’s Opening Night Gala on September 22 and will remain on view throughout the season.
Gallery Met has invited David Altmejd, the highly-acclaimed, Canadian-born sculptor and installation artist, to do a solo exhibition on the occasion of the new production of Doctor Atomic. The opening coincides with the Met premiere on Monday, October 13.
Altmejd also will design the first banner of the 2008-09 season, part of a program begun earlier this year, when Kazanjian began asking internationally renowned artists to create the banners to hang on the façade of the opera house to coincide with new productions. This new program began with Barnaby Furnas’s evocative Final Flood III, announcing Peter Grimes. A banner by Francesco Clemente, based on Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, will appear later in March 2008, followed the next month by George Condo’s for La Fille du Régiment.
Clemente is the final artist to be featured in Gallery Met in the current season. The renowned painter is doing portraits of celebrated sopranos and mezzo-sopranos depicted in costume as the heroines from the Met’s upcoming season. The exhibition opens in the summer of 2008 and will run through the September Opening Night Gala.
Gallery Met was made possible through a donation by Marie Schwartz, an Advisory Director on the Metropolitan Opera’s Board, named for Mrs. Schwartz and her late husband.
The Met is experiencing a second season of ticket sales increases, following six consecutive years of box office decline (the 2005-06 season ended at 76.8% of paid box office capacity). Currently, the box office is at approximately 88% of paid capacity, as compared to last year’s total of 83.9%. Of the 146 performances so far this season, 79 have sold out.
For the third consecutive year, basic ticket prices for Met Opera performances—other than for premium subscriptions—will not be increased in 2008-09. For subscription tickets, 93% of seats will remain unchanged in price; for single tickets, 99% of seat prices will remain unchanged, although there will be a new $1.50 per ticket facility fee in 2008-09.
For the second year, season subscribers and patrons can purchase advance single tickets to the full season, as well as tickets to gala events, at the time they subscribe. New this year is the opportunity for Met season subscribers and patrons to subscribe to the Ring cycle during an exclusive priority sales period.
John Adams’s Doctor Atomic has its Met premiere on Monday, October 13, 2008, marking the first time an opera by Adams, one of the world’s most important composers, will be performed by the company. Penny Woolcock, who directed the 2002 movie version of Adams’s opera The Death of Klinghoffer, will make her opera directing debut with the new production. Improbable theater’s Julian Crouch, who makes his Met debut in the current season as associate director and set designer of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, will design the sets for Doctor Atomic. Tony Award-winning designer Catherine Zuber, who made her Met debut last season with the Met’s new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, will design the costumes. Tony Award-winning artist Brian MacDevitt will be the lighting designer and Andrew Dawson makes his Met debut as choreographer. The video designers are Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer, for Fifty-Nine Productions, and the sound designer is Mark Grey in his Met debut.
Alan Gilbert, the newly appointed Music Director Designate of the New York Philharmonic, will make his Met debut conducting the new production. Gerald Finley reprises his acclaimed portrayal of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the role he created in 2005. Sasha Cooke sings the role of his wife, Kitty, Eric Owens sings General Groves, and Richard Paul Fink sings the role of “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” Edward Teller. A co-production with English National Opera, Doctor Atomic—with a libretto by Peter Sellars, adapted from original sources—will open at ENO in February 2009.
Adams said of Doctor Atomic: “The atomic bomb is the all-American symbol of our darkest mythology—power, technology, science, and, of course, the responsibility of having the ability to destroy the planet. These are Wagnerian topics and they are ideally suited for operatic expression. This is really an opera in which life-and-death matters hover over every moment. It’s also an opera with sensuality and erotic beauty. I write them as expressive vehicles that go into the deepest parts of our feelings.”
“The most brilliant people in the world were all locked up together in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” said Woolcock. “They were pushing at the boundaries of knowledge, connecting with the essence of the universe. They were all so excited about what they were doing that most of them didn’t think about the fact that they were dealing with death and devastation on an unimaginable scale.”
Internationally acclaimed theater artist Robert Lepage makes his Met debut as director, reconceiving his production of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, an opera that has only been staged at the Met once before, in 1906-07. The new production, which opens Friday, November 7, stars Marcello Giordani in the title role, with Susan Graham as Marguerite and John Relyea as Méphistophélès. The entire production team makes Met debuts: Carl Fillion as set designer, Karin Erskine as costume designer, Sonoyo Nishikawa as lighting designer, Johanne Madore and Alain Gautier as choreographers, and Holger Foerterer and Boris Firquet as video designers.
The Met’s production is based on a co-production of the Saito Kinen Festival and the Opéra National de Paris. To create its new staging, Lepage is using technology not available at the time of the original production, including video projections triggered by live movement and voices.
“I believe that live performance and recorded performance and film are converging toward the same space,” Lepage said of his storytelling approach. “Opera is the great mother art, because it invites not only music, literature, architecture, and design, but also fine arts and choreography. It’s a great meeting place.”
Renée Fleming stars in the title role of Massenet’s Thaïs, a production directed by John Cox, which opens on Monday, December 8. Thomas Hampson is Athanaël, following his acclaimed role debut with Fleming in 2002 at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Michael Schade, who sang Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at the Met in March, 2007, sings the role of Nicias. Other members of the production team are set and costume designer Paul Brown, whose recent Met set designs include Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in 1994, Moses und Aron in 1999, and Il Trovatore in 2000; lighting designer Duane Schuler; and Sara Jo Slate, who makes her Met debut as choreographer. Thaïs was last performed at the Met in the 1977-78 season.
Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna star in Nicolas Joël’s new production of Puccini’s La Rondine, conducted by Marco Armiliato, opening on Wednesday, December 31. A co-production with the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the production premiered in London in 2004, in Toulouse in 2005, and in San Francisco last season, where Gheorghiu made her house debut as Magda de Civry, the worldly sophisticate who entices the younger Ruggero (Alagna). The cast also features Lisette Oropesa as Lisette, Marius Brenciu as Prunier in his Met debut, and Samuel Ramey as Rambaldo. Giuseppe Filianoti performs the role of Ruggero in later performances. The production team includes set designer Ezio Frigerio and costume designer Franca Squarciapino, who worked with Joël on his production of Lucia di Lammermoor in 1998, and lighting designer Duane Schuler. The opera was last seen at the Met in the 1935-36 season.
Salvatore Licitra sings the title role of Verdi’s Il Trovatore in director David McVicar’s production, opening on Monday, February 16, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. The cast also includes Sondra Radvanovsky as Leonora, Dolora Zajick as Azucena, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as di Luna. Marco Berti (Manrico), Hasmik Papian (Leonora), Luciana D’Intino (Azucena), and Željko Lučić (di Luna) sing the lead roles in later performances, which are conducted by Riccardo Frizza. Set designer Charles Edwards, costume designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel, and choreographer Leah Hausman all make their Met debuts. Jennifer Tipton, who most recently designed the lighting for the Met’s new production of Hansel and Gretel, is lighting designer. Il Trovatore is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago, where it opened in 2006, and San Francisco Opera.
Mary Zimmerman, who made her Met debut in the current season as director of the new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, returns in 2008-09 to direct Bellini’s La Sonnambula, opening Monday, March 2. Following their Met appearances in La Fille du Régiment in April 2008, Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez are Amina and Elvino, and Michele Pertusi sings the Count in Bellini’s romantic bel canto opera. Evelino Pidò conducts. Zimmerman is joined again by her Lucia production team: set designer Daniel Ostling, costume designer Mara Blumenfeld, and lighting designer T.J. Gerckens.
Zimmerman describes her “play within a play” construct for La Sonnambula: “Nowhere in the world is reality rendered so tenuous, so provisional—so much like a dream—as in a rehearsal room where a company of singers, like dreamers in their sleep, move through an invisible world as though it were real. Our production will be staged in a rehearsal hall, during a rehearsal for a traditional production of La Sonnambula, where the opera gradually asserts its authority over all the players, the room, and time itself.”
Opening Night Gala
Renée Fleming headlines the Met’s Opening Night Gala on Monday, September 22, 2008, performing acts from three different. Maestros Levine and Armiliato will conduct fully-staged performances of the second act of Verdi’s La Traviata, the third act of Massenet’s Manon and the final scene from Richard Strauss’s Capriccio. Tenor Ramón Vargas and baritones Thomas Hampson and Dwayne Croft join Fleming for this special evening. The Opening Night Gala performance will be transmitted live in Times Square and in the park at Fordham University (Lincoln Center’s Josie Robertson Plaza will be under renovation).
125th Anniversary Gala Performance
On Sunday, March 15, 2009, the Met will celebrate a milestone birthday with its 125th Anniversary Gala, featuring performances by some of the opera world’s biggest stars (the lineup will be announced in the fall). The gala also celebrates Plácido Domingo’s 40th anniversary with the company. Fully-staged scenes, conducted by James Levine, will be realized with high-powered scenic projections that will recreate classic sets—all designed and produced by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott of the Improbable theater company. New costumes will be created based on the original designs. The evening will feature designs from Marc Chagall’s Die Zauberflöte from 1967, the unauthorized first presentation outside Bayreuth of Wagner’s Parsifal from 1903, the world premiere of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West from 1910, the Met’s first opening night in 1883 of Faust, Tyrone Guthrie’s production of Carmen from 1952, and other classic productions from Met history.
Complete Cycles of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen
James Levine conducts the final performances of Otto Schenk’s landmark production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in three complete cycles between Saturday, March 28 and Saturday, May 9, 2009. Schenk will return to the Met to oversee the revival. First staged in its entirety in 1989 and most recently performed in 2004, the Schenk production has captivated Wagner-lovers from around the world. The warrior-maiden Brünnhilde will be sung by Christine Brewer (Cycle 1) and Lisa Gasteen (Cycles 2 and 3), joined by the young hero, Siegfried, of Christian Franz (Cycles 1 and 2), in his Met debut, and Jon Fredric West (Cycle 3). James Morris sings his much admired portrayal of Wotan at Cycles 1 and 3, and Albert Dohmen, who made his Met debut as Jochanaan in Salome in 2004, adds the King of the Gods to his Met repertory in Cycle 2. The incomparable Plácido Domingo reprises the role of Siegmund in Cycles 2 and 3, while Johan Botha takes on the role for the first time at the Met in Cycle 1. Waltraud Meier sings her first Met Sieglinde in Cycle 1, and Adrianne Pieczonka repeats the role she sang this past January in Cycles 2 and 3. Bass René Pape will be heard as Hunding and Fasolt in Cycles 2 and 3, while John Tomlinson sings the roles of the Rheingold Fafner and Hagen at all Cycles and Hunding in Cycle 1.
The next complete Met Ring cycle is planned for the 2011-12 season in a new production created by Robert Lepage and conducted by Maestro Levine.
In addition to Barenboim and Gilbert, conductors making their Met debuts this season include Mikko Franck with Salome (September 23), Daniele Callegari with La Gioconda (September 24), Paolo Carignani with La Traviata (October 20), Lothar Koenigs with Don Giovanni (December 1), Riccardo Frizza with Rigoletto (January 24), and Pietro Rizzo with Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (March 19). Czech conductor Jiří Bĕlohlávek leads two productions, Eugene Onegin and Rusalka, as does Italian conductor Maurizio Benini, with La Cenerentola and L’Elisir d’Amore. Two French conductors lead performances this season: Louis Langrée, who debuted at the Met last season with Iphigénie en Tauride, is on the podium for Don Giovanni, and Frédéric Chaslin, who most recently conducted Carmen at the Met in March 2008, conducts La Bohème. Houston Grand Opera Music Director Patrick Summers returns to the Met to conduct Madama Butterfly.
Some of the 2008-09 season’s most exciting news comes in the casting of the 18 revivals of productions from the repertory. Two renowned singing actresses sing the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Met for the first time: Diana Damrau and Anna Netrebko. The production, a revival of director Mary Zimmerman’s new staging that opened the 2007-08 season, also features tenors Rolando Villazón and Piotr Beczala sharing the role of Lucia’s lover, Edgardo, both in Met role debuts. Mariusz Kwiecien and Vladimir Stoyanov share the role of her brother, Enrico, and Ildar Abdrazakov adds the role of Raimondo to his Met repertory.
Karita Mattila sings her first Met Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s romantic masterpiece, Eugene Onegin, opposite Thomas Hampson in the title role. Mattila also portrays the title character in Richard Strauss’s Salome—reprising the interpretation for which she won tremendous acclaim when she first sang it at the Met in 2004, with baritone Juha Uusitalo in his Met debut as Jochanaan.
Deborah Voigt takes on the demanding title role of La Gioconda, an addition to her Met repertory. She is joined by Olga Borodina as Laura, James Morris as Alvise, and Ewa Podleś as La Cieca, the Polish mezzo’s first Met appearance in more than 20 years.
Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore features Angela Gheorghiu reprising her portrayal of Adina, and Met role debuts for Rolando Villazón as the lovesick Nemorino and Bryn Terfel as the quack Dr. Dulcamara.
Two tenors take on the doubleheader of the faithless Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and the heartbroken Canio in Pagliacci. Roberto Alagna sings both roles for the first time at the Met, followed by José Cura, who reprises the role of his Met debut, Turiddu, before singing his first Canio with the company.
Erwin Schrott brings his noted interpretation of the world’s greatest lover to the Met in Don Giovanni. Susan Graham’s Elvira is a Met first, while Barbara Frittoli as Anna, Matthew Polenzani as Ottavio, Samuel Ramey as Leporello, and Peter Mattei in the title role (at later performances) reprise roles they have performed at the Met in previous seasons.
Following her stunning Met debut as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in the current season, mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča stars in the title role of Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella). Her prince charming is the young American bel canto specialist tenor Lawrence Brownlee.
Mark Morris’s production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, first seen in May 2007, rejoins the repertory with Stephanie Blythe and Danielle de Niese in the title roles.
Two Verdi favorites feature new interpreters. Anja Harteros, whose Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro was heard in the current season, sings her first Met Violetta in La Traviata. Her Alfredo is Italian tenor Massimo Giordano, last heard as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, the third opera in Puccini’s Il Trittico, which premiered last spring. And Željko Lučić, this season’s title character in Verdi’s Macbeth, sings his first Met performances of the title role of Rigoletto, with Diana Damrau further expanding her Met repertory as Gilda. The lyric tenors of Giuseppe Filianoti, Piotr Beczala, and Joseph Calleja share the role of the philandering Duke of Mantua.
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde features new interpreters in the title roles, Katarina Dalayman and Peter Seiffert, with Michelle DeYoung as Brangäne. René Pape reprises his King Marke, which he sang in the premiere of this production in 1999.
Absent from the repertory for 15 years, Cilea’s melodic Adriana Lecouvreur returns with Maria Guleghina as the famed French actress at the center of this passionate story of backstage intrigue. Olga Borodina sings the role of the Principessa di Bouillon, Adriana’s rival for the love of the general Maurizio, sung by Marcelo Álvarez. Plácido Domingo conducts the opera in which he made his Met singing debut, in the role of Maurizio, in 1968.
Ben Heppner returns as the tortured Ghermann in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, a part he sang when this production premiered in 1995. Maria Guleghina portrays Lisa, her only Met role in her native Russian.
Renée Fleming repeats one of her favorite roles, the title character of Dvořák’s Rusalka, with Stephanie Blythe singing the witch Ježibaba for the first time. Tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko makes his Met debut as the Prince and Christine Goerke sings the Foreign Princess for the first time.
Two Puccini favorites round out the repertory: Anna Netrebko and Maija Kovalevska share the role of Mimì in La Bohème, joined by Ramón Vargas as Rodolfo, and Mariusz Kwiecien as Marcello; and Anthony Minghella’s acclaimed production of Madama Butterfly features Patricia Racette and Cristina Gallardo-Domâs alternating in the title role, with Roberto Aronica and Marcello Giordani sharing the part of Pinkerton, and Dwayne Croft returning as Sharpless.
The Met on the Radio and the Web
Entering its 78th year in 2008-09, the Saturday matinee broadcast season is heard live over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network. Margaret Juntwait returns for her 5th season as announcer, and Ira Siff returns for his second season as commentator for the broadcasts, which feature a range of dynamic intermission features, live backstage interviews with artists, and the ever-popular Opera Quiz. The 2008-09 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season will be sponsored by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury homebuilder®, with generous long-term support from The Annenberg Foundation and the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment, and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
Metropolitan Opera Radio, channel 85 on SIRIUS Satellite Radio, will have its third season as the country’s first 24-hour subscription-radio channel dedicated to opera. Up to four live performances will be broadcast each week during the season, beginning with the Met’s Opening Night Gala performance on September 22, in addition to historic broadcasts from the Met’s vast archives. Metropolitan Opera on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 85) is available to SIRIUS subscribers in the United States and Canada. The subscription requires a satellite radio or is available via the internet or the Dish Network satellite television service.
Last season, the Met launched Met on Rhapsody with 100 opera recordings (more than 3,600 tracks) from the Met’s rich archive of broadcasts. The offerings range from Bizet’s Carmen from 1937, starring Rosa Ponselle and conducted by Gennaro Papi, to Donizetti’s Don Pasquale from 2006, starring Juan Diego Flórez and Anna Netrebko and conducted by Maurizio Benini—and include more than 30 performances conducted by James Levine. Met on Rhapsody, available at http://www.rhapsody.com/metropolitanopera, features a full gallery of artist photos.
In partnership with RealNetworks®, metopera.org will continue to stream live performances once a week during the 2008-09 season in high-quality 96 kbs stereo, including the Met’s Opening Night Gala, the 125th Anniversary Gala, and each new production premiere. The Met’s robust website also features artist interviews, photo galleries, audio and video clips, and blogs, plus information on The Met: Live in HD, including a comprehensive schedule that includes ticket and location information for all theaters worldwide.
Special Performance Events
On Sunday, December 14, 2008, Daniel Barenboim will perform an all-Liszt piano concert, in what will be the first piano recital on the Met’s stage since Vladimir Horowitz’s historic appearances in the 1980s. The program includes: Three Petrarch Sonnets and Après une lecture de Dante from Années de pèlerinage; St. François d’Assise: La prédication aux oiseaux from Deux Légendes; and transcriptions of themes from three operas by Verdi: Il Trovatore, Aida, and Rigoletto.
Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute is the special Holiday Presentation in December and January. The abridged English-language version is given four special matinee performances and one holiday evening performance as a way for families to celebrate the holiday season. Nicole Cabell, a winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, makes her Met debut as Pamina, while Dimitri Pittas as Tamino, Cyndia Sieden as the Queen of the Night, and Eric Owens as Sarastro all sing their roles for the first time at the Met. Rodion Pogossov, who sang Papageno at the new production premiere in 2004, reprises the role, and Asher Fisch conducts. Matinees are December 22, 27, 30, and 31, and the evening performance is January 1.
On Wednesday, December 31, 2008, the Met will ring in the New Year with a New Year’s Eve Gala performance of La Rondine, in its new production premiere, starring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberta Alagna, conducted by Marco Armiliato. The performance, which is followed by dinner and dancing on the Mercedes T. Bass Grand Tier, will be the first time the Met has premiered a new production on New Year’s Eve.
The MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall
James Levine and the MET Orchestra return to Carnegie Hall for their 19th season. The ensemble is joined by a quartet of soloists, including violinist Christian Tetzlaff, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and pianists Lang Lang and Peter Serkin. Levine conducts all three concerts, which begin on Sunday, October 5, 2008, with a program that includes Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 and Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum (in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Messiaen’s birth), and Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77, with Tetzlaff as soloist. DiDonato and Serkin are soloists in a program on Sunday, January 25, 2009, that includes Mozart’s “Ch’io mi scordi di te?” K. 505, Rossini’s La regatta veneziana, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, “Italian,” and the world premiere of a new work for piano and orchestra by Charles Wuorinen. Lang Lang is the soloist in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 in the final program on Thursday, May 21, 2009, which also includes Stravinsky’s Petrushka (1947 version).
The Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater “Opera/Theater Commissions” Program
The Met/LCT Opera/Theater Commissions program is progressing with most of the composer/librettist teams having identified subjects for their collaborations. Rufus Wainwright expects to complete his original opera, entitled Prima Donna, in time for a workshop scheduled for January, 2009. Composer Michael John LaChiusa and the teams of Jake Heggie (composer) and Richard Greenberg (playwright); and Michael Torke (composer), Michael Korie (librettist), and Des McAnuff (writer/director); have all completed the initial creative process of choosing the material they will adapt and are clearing the underlying rights. Ricky Ian Gordon (composer) and Michael Korie (librettist) have settled on a subject and are outlining the story. Composer Jeanine Tesori and playwright Tony Kushner are working on an original story. Nico Muhly, the program’s most recent addition, will be collaborating with playwright Craig Lucas as librettist. Composer Scott Wheeler is working with playwright Romulus Linney to adapt one of Linney’s plays. Composer Bill Whelan is in the process of confirming his librettist. Composer Rachel Portman and playwright Nicholas Wright are still exploring ideas, as are composers Adam Guettel and Wynton Marsalis.
Information on subscriptions or additional information can be obtained by calling Met Ticket Service at (212) 362-6000, or by visiting the Met website at www.metopera.org