The world renowned Metropolitan Opera House in New York City held a press conference on February 22, 2010 to unveil the details of the 2010-2011 season.
General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine announced plans for twenty-eight operas, including seven new productions, two of which will be Met premieres: John Adams' Nixon in China and Rossini's Le Comte Ory.
Of the 28 titles, eleven productions will be featured in the Met's immensely popular series of HD 'moviecasts' – operas broadcast live into movie theaters around the world. As usual at the Met, the new season brings a fascinating roster of debut performances (singers, conductors, directors), but also a generous ration of uninspired – perhaps downright questionable – casting choices.
Looking at the new productions, James Levine will celebrate his 40th anniversary season by conducting the first two installments of the Met's new production of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Das Rheingold will be given a gala performance on opening night, September 27. Robert Lepage will direct the production, and two members of his team, François St.-Aubin (costumes) and Étienne Boucher (lighting), will make their Met debuts. Bryn Terfel has been announced for Wotan, but his record of cancellations in NY (and elsewhere) is cause for concern, and Stephanie Blythe will sing her implacable Fricka. Much more interesting will be Patricia Bardon as Erda and especially Richard Croft as Loge. Die Walküre will close the season in the spring of 2011, and will see Terfel and Blythe continuing as the power-couple at Valhalla. Eva-Maria Westbroek will make her Met debut as Sieglinde, and Deborah Voigt has been announced for her first Met Brünnhildes, though the latter has been such an uneven performer in recent seasons, it's hard not to wonder who will be covering her in this critical role. Even in top condition, Voigt isn't really the right voice for the dramatic warrior-maiden. Jonas Kaufmann will continue to show off his versatility by taking on Siegmund.
Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov will be given a new production with Valery Gergiev at the helm and under the direction of Met debutant Peter Stein. Rene Pape will undertake the title role for the first time at the Met, and will lead a strong Russian cast, including Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Evgeny Nikitin, and Vladimir Ognovenko. Next up will be Verdi's Don Carlo, in a co-production with London's Covent Garden and Norwegian National Opera, and sadly being offered in Italian instead of the preferable French version. The entire production team, under the direction of Nicholas Hytner, will be making their Met debuts. Roberto Alagna sings the title role, and will be accompanied by two veteran basses: Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II and Eric Halfvarson as the Inquisitor. The elegant Simon Keenlyside will take on Rodrigo and Anna Smirnova will make her Met debut as Eboli. Finally, although she hasn't made much of an impression at the Met to date, Marina Poplavskaya will take on Elisabetta in the first of her two surprising assignments in new productions this season. The Italian production will be conducted by the dynamic Frenchman Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
For her second high-profile assignment, Poplavskaya will assay Violetta in a new production of Verdi's La Traviata, to open with a gala performance on New Year's Eve. Under the skillful baton of Gianandrea Noseda, this will be the widely known production from the Salzburg Festival that has already been issued on DVD. Director Willy Decker and his entire production team will make their Met debuts while replacing the current, overblown, and ugly production unveiled by Franco Zeffirelli only a few years back. Two light-voiced but stylish tenors will be sharing the role of Alfredo Germont: Met stalwart Matthew Polenzani and the young Italian Francesco Meli. Andrzej Dobber ages prematurely for the elder Germont.
Next up, is the long overdue Met premiere of John Adams' thrilling opera Nixon in China. The composer will make his Met conducting debut, leading a production that originated at English National Opera and was based closely on the original from Houston Grand Opera. Peter Sellers, the original director from 1987, will also make his Met debut. It what will surely mark a major career milestone, baritone James Maddalena will make his Met debut while reprising his role of Richard Nixon nearly a quarter century after creating it. The cast will also include soprano Janis Kelly making her debut as Pat Nixon and Russell Braun singing the pivotal role of Chou En-lai (originally created by Sanford Sylvan). Sadly, the Met's new 'house coloratura' Kathleen Kim has been assigned the fiendishly difficult role of Chiang Ch'ing (Ms. Mao). Not only has Kim failed to impress in her recent assignments as Olympia and Zerbinetta, but Chiang Ch'ing requires a true dramatic coloratura with a voice of substantial size and force.
Finally, the seventh new production is also a Met premiere: Rossini's sparkling Le Comte Ory. Surely mounted for Juan Diego Florez who will take the title role, Rossini's French reworking of Il Viaggio a Reims will debut in a production by Bartlett Sher under the baton of bel canto specialist Maurizio Benini. Fortunately for Rossini-lovers, Florez is not the only attraction in an all-star cast that includes Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Stéphane Degout, and Michele Pertusi. On the boards for only eight performances, this should sell out quickly.
The twenty-one remaining productions are revivals, and comprise the usual mixture of standard repertoire (76 total performances of La Boheme, Carmen, Magic Flute, Rigoletto, Tosca, and Il Trovatore) and more adventuresome fare. With James Levine conducting only six operas this season, there is plenty of room on the podium for Met debuts, including Roberto Rizzi Brignoli (La Boheme), Edward Gardner (Carmen), Patrick Fournillier (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), William Christie (Cosi fan tutte), Erik Nielsen (Magic Flute), Simon Rattle (Pelléas et Mélisande), and Paolo Arrivabeni (Rigoletto). Returning conductors include Fabio Luisi, Riccardo Frizza, Andrew Davis, Nicola Luisotti, Patrick Summers, Andris Nelsons, Placido Domingo, and Marco Armiliato, making an impressive line-up, indeed.
There are plenty of big-name singers taking part in revivals this season as well. Perhaps there are none more central to the Met than soprano Renee Fleming, who returns in Armida (a production still yet to be unveiled in the present season) and who will present her first Met Countess in Strauss' Capriccio. Other names to watch include Violetta Urmana (Ariadne and Tosca); Joyce DiDonato (making a role debut as the Composer in Ariadne); Barry Banks (Armida and Don Pasquale); Krassimira Stoyanova (La Boheme); Sarah Connolly (Capriccio); Elina Garanca (Carmen); Elena Mosuc finally making her very belated Met debut as Olympia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann; Giuseppe Filianoti and Ildar Abdrazakov (Hoffmann); Miah Persson, Pavol Breslik, Nathan Gunn, and debutant Wolfgang Holzmair in Cosi fan tutte; Anna Netrebko (Don Pasquale); Marcello Giordani (La Fanciulla del West); Placido Domingo (Iphigénie en Tauride); Natalie Dessay, Joseph Calleja, and Ludovic Tézier in Lucia di Lammermoor; Magdalena Kozena, Stéphane Degout, and Gerald Finley in Pelléas et Mélisande; Karita Mattila, Dolora Zajick (as the Old Countess), Vladimir Galouzine, and Peter Mattei in Pique Dame; Angela Gheorghiu, Piotr Beczala, and James Morris in Romeo et Juliette; Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Ferruccio Furlanetto in Simon Boccanegra; Marcelo Alvarez (Tosca and Il Trovatore); Falk Struckmann (Tosca); and finally, Waltraud Meier and Matthias Goerne in Wozzeck.
The eleven productions that will be included in the Met HD transmission series are as follows: Das Rheingold (Oct. 9), Boris Godunov (Oct. 23), Don Pasquale (Nov. 13), Don Carlo (Dec. 11), La fanciulla del West (Jan. 8), Iphigénie en Tauride (Feb. 26), Lucia di Lammermoor (Mar. 19), Le Comte Ory (Apr. 9), Capriccio (Apr. 23), Il Trovatore (Apr. 30), and Die Walküre (May 14).
You can find the entire Met press release with all dates and casting details here:
The details of the HD transmissions can be found here:http://www.metoperafamily.org//metopera/news/news_flash.aspx?id=11526
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