|Onegin is pictured in Act 3 while Tatiana is in Act 1.|
It's also a season that is seemingly split between stuff for the novice and connoisseur, with an unusual assortment of rarities like the The Nose, Prince Igor, and Arabella balanced out by a dozen performances each of Tosca, Butterfly, and Bohème. To some extent it's always like this, but it's particularly pronounced this year. What gets pushed out seems to be the middle--there is no Wagner at all, and the only Mozart is Così and the kid-targeted abridged Flute. And while I'm not whining about the lack of early Verdi myself (it's not my favorite), the Met usually features at least one pre-Rigoletto work.
I also noticed that with the exception of Prince Igor all the productions have either already been produced by a London house or are directed by someone British. I realize that Britain probably has the operatic culture most similar to the US's, but this seems excessively narrow in focus.
Nonetheless there is much to look forward to: the Met debut of Dmitri Tcherniakov, James Levine's return, and 14 performances of La Bohème. OK, maybe not so much on that last one.
This year I'll be writing a second preview covering groups such as the Gotham Chamber Opera, New York City Opera, and visiting groups such as Les Arts Florissants. Stay tuned.
You can find specific dates and details for each production on this page.
Chaikovsky, Eugene Onegin (premiere September 23): This Deborah Warner production received mixed (at best) reviews at the English National Opera, and there has been general consternation that it is replacing the popular current Robert Carsen production at the Met. I can see the point: the Carsen has had a good enough run, but the Warner really doesn't sound exciting. But it stars Netrebko (her third Met opening night in a row--I love ya, Trebs, but really?), so it had to be new, it seems. Mariusz Kwiecien sings Onegin and Piotr Beczala sings Lensky. Note that the second cast features the fabulous Onegin of Peter Mattei, but also Marina Poplovskaya as Tatiana and Rolando Villazon as Lensky, so it may be a matter of taste.
|Two out of two Met Onegin sets agree: Onegin is about dead trees|
Verdi, Falstaff (December and January): Oops, this one isn’t from the ENO, it’s from Covent Garden. Since we’re losing one Carsen production in Onegin, it’s nice we’re at least gaining another in this Falstaff, particularly because it sounds fairly good. Ambrogio Maestri, last year’s Dulcamara, sings Falstaff, Angela Meade is Alice Ford, and Lisette Oropesa should be beautiful as Nannetta. No word on whether Rupert the Horse is coming over from London.
J. Strauss II, Die Fledermaus (December, January, February): This one is an original, but it’s directed by British polymath Jeremy Sams, who is doing a new translation. I remind you that he brought us Enchanted Island. Douglas Carter Beane is doing the dialogue. Susanna Philips and Christopher Maltman sing the Eisensteins.
Borodin, Prince Igor (February and March). The only new production this season that neither comes from London nor is directed by a British person. The director is Dmitri Tcherniakov, who is one of the top Regie suspects in Europe and has had great success with Russian works like Ruslan and Lydmila, Khovanshchina, and, er, Onegin, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for this one. The cast is also very Slavic, and includes Ildar Abdrazakov and Anita Rachvelishvili.
Massenet, Werther (February and March). This mopey opera exists primarily as a tenor vehicle, in this case the tenor is Jonas Kaufmann. The production is by (British) Richard Eyre, who did the Met’s Carmen that everyone always forgets is actually only a few years old. Elina Garanca brings her distant charms to the repressed Charlotte. I’ve seen Garanca and Kaufmann independently in this opera in Vienna, and they both managed to make me not dislike Massenet, which is something. Also, Lisette Oropesa!
Mozart, Così fan tutte (September and April): James Levine’s big comeback! Isabel Leonard and Matthew Polenzani will be elegant, and last year’s best surprise, Guanqun Yu, returns to sing one performance of Fiordiligi. And Danielle De Niese is Despina, so, er.
Here’s what I wrote about its premiere.
Bellini, Norma (October): Has Anyone Except Callas Sung Norma Well Since 1650? I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to talk about that for the month before and after this one! It features a Sondra Radvonovsky/Kate Aldrich option and an Angela Meade/Jamie “Awesome” Barton option. Aleksandrs Atonenko sings Pollione, which, well, that’s gonna be loud.
Britten, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (October): An opera I have never seen! (*Looks slightly embarrassed.*) I better go see it. Cast includes Kathleen Kim, Erin Wall, and Iestyn Davies, conducted by James Conlon.
Puccini, Tosca (October, November, December). This production, I can’t even. Tosce include Racette, Radvanovsky, and Matos; Marii Alagna, Giordani, and one Ricardo Tamura.
Strauss, Die Frau ohne Schatten (November). Now we’re talking! This Herbert Wernicke production is said to be fantastic, this is its first revival since its premiere a decade ago, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it. Vladimir Jurowski conducts and the cast includes Anne Schwanewilms (who sang it in Salzburg), Christine Goerke, Torsten Kerl, and Johan Reuter.
Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier (Novemeber and December). Martina Serafin should bring a real Viennese touch to the Marschallin, and Garanca’s Octavian is something to look forward to--while perhaps not the perfect personality match of Charlotte, she should certainly sound great. Unfortunately Mojca Erdmann will be singing Sophie. The second cast includes Serafin with Daniela Sindram as Octavian and Erin Morley as Sophie. Edward Gardner conducts, which, ?
Mozart, The Magic Flute (December and January): This is the English-language abridged version. Cast includes Eric Owens and Nathan Gunn.
Donizetti, L’Elisir d’amore (January): Same as last year, same Trebs. This time with Ramon Vargas, whose Nemorino is quite sweet.
Puccini, La Bohème (January, March, April): It wouldn’t be the Met without 14, count ‘em, 14 performances of Zeffirelli’s ode to the opulence of starving and freezing in a Parisian garret. 14 nights when I will plan to be somewhere else. Rotating cast includes Calleja and Grigolo as Rodolfo.
Puccini, Madama Butterfly (January, February, April, May). How does one pay for one's Prince Igors, Noses, and Shadowless Ladies? With 14 Bohèmes and 14 Butterflies. Kristine Opolais alert in the second cast. No fewer than four Pinkertons in this one.
Dvorak, Rusalka (January, February). We got rid of the dusty greenery of Schenk’s Ring, but we still have the dusty greenery of Schenk’s Rusalka. Like the last revival, this one has Fleming and Zajick, unlike the last one it also has Beczala and, as the Foreign Princess, Emily Magee.
|The aria "Are you having fun yet"|
(sung to "Myself I shall adore")
Berg, Wozzeck (March): Levine conducts again, in what has to be the single most often performed “rarity” around. (This will be its third outing in New York in two seasons, which is more than most standard rep.) Hampson sings Wozzeck, which will be something.
Bellini, La Sonnambula (March): This is a Mary Zimmerman production that landed in 2009 with a metatheatrical thump, and I don’t think many expected it to be revived. Anyway, Diana Damrau is singing it this time.
Giordano, Andrea Chénier (March and April): Libertà, egalité, and cheese! Or something like that. Álvarez, Racette, Lucic.
Strauss, Arabella (April): A true rarity in the US, this is another musty Schenk production but it will be nice to see this opera. This was reportedly planned for our favorite cancellation-prone German soprano, and has very strong casting in, well, everything except the title role. While we’re getting Malin Byström as Arabella, the great Genia Kühmeier sings Zdenka, and Michael Volle should be an unusually good Mandryka.
Bellini, I Puritani (April, May): When last seen with Trebs, this Thanksgiving pilgram-like production looks like the unironic version of the last scene of Zimmerman’s Sonnambula. But Olga Peretyatko, singing Elvira, is reportedly good.
Rossini, La Cenerentola (April, May): DiDonato/Flórez vehicle. It’ll be LIKABLE! It'll remind you frequently how likable it is!
Vittorio Grigolo in recital (March 9): I thought the Kaufmann recital of a few years ago showed us that this (a recital in the Met) is a difficult thing to pull off even if you’re an experienced recitalist with a large voice. Grigolo is neither experienced nor does he have a big voice. Why is this happening?
Start marking your calendars, folks. (Not for the Grigolo recital. Well, I guess, if you want. I shouldn't judge. But....)
Falstaff: Catherine Ashmore/ROH
Rigoletto, Nose, Island: Met