A few weeks ago I took a look at the Met’s upcoming season. But while the Met is the 800-pound gorilla of New York opera, it’s hardly the only option. Here’s a survey of some of the most interesting other operatic and vocal events of the season.
While few companies can compete with the Met for big, expensive, starry staged opera, other groups have some unique and even really offbeat stuff planned, much of which would never work in a giant space. For me, the winner is Gotham Chamber Opera, who have planned a spectacularly original and varied group of productions.
This listing is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather a selection of what I think sounds most intriguing for reasons of repertoire, casting, and production. It was assembled with the help of Parterre Box’s invaluable New York Opera calendar, which contains many more operatic and vocal events for your perusal. Note that the Opera Orchestra of New York hasn’t announced yet, but hopefully will. Big name singers with pet projects are probably applying now.
One note: buying tickets for these can be tricky. Some of these events will sell out weeks or even months ahead of time. Many won’t. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which is which. Support small companies and buy in advance!
You can find a list of links to the companies' websites with full ticket information at the end of this post.
Monteverdi, The Return of Ulysses (Opera Omnia): this occasional company has previously produced Poppea and Giasone at Le poisson rouge, this time they’re at the Baryshnikov Center. This is a gorgeous opera and their previous efforts have been musically solid.
Turnage, Anna Nicole (New York City Opera and BAM co-production): The American premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera, to be seen in Richard Jones’s original production with Sarah Joy Miller (an actual American) in the title role along with some Broadway folks like James Barbour and Mary Testa. I wrote about the London production here. Let’s see how it does on this side of the pond.
Wagner, Parsifal, Act 2 and Saint-Saëns, Samson et Dalila, Act 2 in concert (New York Opera Forum at the NYPL Performing Arts) I know nothing about the New York Opera Forum but wished to recognize this bold programing. Also, some of the only Wagner you’ll hear in New York this whole season.
Verdi, Nabucco (Opera Philadelphia): OK, it’s in Philadelphia. But it’s a Thaddeus Strassberger production, which is interesting! Points to Philadelphia, who have been stepping up their game in the last few years, as well as losing the clunky "Company of" in the middle of their name.
Baden Baden 1927 (Gotham Chamber Opera at John Jay): One of the most exciting events of the season, a quadruple bill of short operas replicates the titular music festival: Weill’s Mahagonny Singspiel, Hindemith’s Hin und zurück (a palindromic opera!), Milhaud’s L’enlèvement d’Europe, and Toch’s Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse. The first will feature a rare US appearance by the legendary and timeless diva Helen Donath. Paul Curran is the director.
Handel, Aci, Galatea, e Polifermo (in concert, Le Concert d’Astrée, Lincoln Center-Alice Tully/Great Performers). Emmanuelle Haïm brings her historical group to Lincoln Center for this dramatic cantata with Lydia Teuscher, Delphine Galou, and Laurent Nouri.
Boito, Mefistofele (6, Carnegie): The Collegiate Chorale’s annual opera is Arrigo Boito’s Faustian tale, which is a very popular work among opera connoisseurs but is only performed now and then. Cast includes Eric Owens and Julianna Di Giacomo.
Recital: Anna Caterina Antonacci Era la notte (13 and 14, Great Performers). Another rare US appearance, this one by the wonderful Italian soprano, presumably replicating her excellent CD of the same title featuring Monteverdi, Strozzi, and more. How it fits into the White Nights Festival beats me, but we’re lucky to have her.
Mark Morris Dance Group: L’allegro, il penseroso, e il moderato (Lincoln Center Great Performers). The 1988 ballet opera classic revived again.
Strauss, Feuersnot (15, American Symphony Orchestra in concert, Carnegie). Leon Botstein continues to storm his way through obscure early twentieth-century scores. This early Strauss opera is a total hoot: full of Wagner jokes and a whole lot shorter than Meistersinger.
Charpentier, La descente d’Orphée aux Enfers (Gotham, Trinity Church Wall Street) After last season’s David et Jonathas, it’s nice to have another Charpentier opera in NYC already. You probably know the story of this one.
Recital: Anne Sofie von Otter/Emmanuel Ax (28, Carnegie main): Brahms/Nico Muhly.
February: short month, lots of singing
Handel, Theodora (2, in concert, Carnegie main): The English Concert conducted by Harry Bicket, cast includes Dorothea Röschmann, Sarah Connolly, and David Daniels. Along with Aci and L'allegro, one of the only Handel events of the season.
Recital: Gerald Finley/Julius Drake (13, Carnegie, Zankel): Winterreise
Recital: Jonas Kaufmann/Helmut Deutsch (20, Carnegie, main): Program TBA
J. C. Bach, Endimione (City Opera, El Museo del Barrio) When I say Endimione, you say, “you mean that beautiful scene in Cavalli’s La Calisto, right?” But I don’t! Similar story, but we’re dealing with J.C. Bach here. Yeah, it will be news to me too. Michael Counts, who did last season’s Mosè en Egitto, directs.
Double Bill: Monteverdi, Il Combattimento/Lembit Beecher, I Have No Stories to Tell You (Gotham Chamber Opera, Met Museum). An intriguing pairing of Monteverdi’s dramatic madrigal and a new opera on a libretto by Hannah Moscovitch. The first deals with war (and will be performed in the Arms and Armor gallery!), the second on its traumatic aftereffects (to be performed in the Medieval Sculpture Hall). Robin Guarino directs.
Philippe Jaroussky and the Venice Baroque Orchestra (25, Met Museum) Jaroussky is one of the best countertenors around and rarely performs in New York. He sings Vivaldi, Porpora, and Geminani.
Berg, Wozzeck (28, Wiener Staatsoper in concert, Carnegie). The Wiener Staatsoper is bringing two unstaged operas to Carnegie Hall (part of a much larger Philharmoniker residency). The first is Wozzeck, New York’s most popular opera at present (wir arme Leut’). It's conducted by Daniele Gatti with a cast that includes Matthias Goerne, a rare US appearance by cult favorite Evelyn Herlitzius, and, as the Captain, the steam whistle tenor of Herwig Peccoraro.
Bartók, Bluebeard’s Castle (City Opera, St. Anne’s Warehouse) On the same night as Wozzeck, the City Opera premieres its new production of Bartók’s underperformed horror opera in the creepy venue of St. Anne’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. Viktoria Vizin and Gidon Saks sing, and Daniel Kramer directs. Note that this opera is often done as part of a double bill but is the only thing on the program here.
Strauss, Salome (1, Wiener Staatsoper in concert, Carnegie). The Wiener Staatsoper’s second performance is promising: Andris Nelsons conducts Salome. The orchestra can really play this score. Soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin is an unknown quantity to me, however. Anyone care to enlighten?
Sondheim, Sweeney Todd (NY Phil). OK, it’s not quite an opera, but it does star Bryn Terfel as the titular demon barber. He'll sound a lot better than Johnny Depp. The announcement that Nadja Michael is singing Mrs. Lovett is only a matter of time, right?
Rameau, Platée (2, Alice Tully) Unfortunately Les Arts Florissants is not bringing a full staged opera to the Brooklyn Academy of Music this season, but they are performing Platée in concert. By French Baroque standards, this is something of a golden oldie but is always delightful. The cast includes Marcel Beekman in the title role and the inimitable Simone Kermes in the role she was born to play, La Folie.
Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro (City Opera, City Center). To be directed by Christopher Alden, completing his Da Ponte trilogy for City Opera. I missed the Don, but the Così was really good. Cast includes Simone Osborne as Susannah, Keri Alkema as the Countess, Rod Gilfry as the Count, and, as of yet, no announced Figaro.
Recital: Iestyn Davies/Thomas Dunford, lute (10, Carnegie Weill): Johnson, Danyel, Dowland, Nico Muhly
Hosokawa, The Raven (Gotham Chamber Opera). Part of the NY Biennial, this opera is a “monodrama for mezzo and twelve instrumentalists” based on the Poe. The mezzo will be Fredrika Brillemberg, and she will be joined by dancer Alessandra Ferri. I loved Hosokawa’s Matsukaze at this summer’s Lincoln Center Festival, and am glad he’s getting another New York performance so soon.
H.K. Gruber, Gloria: A Pigtale (Juilliard Opera): at the Met Museum. Part of the NY Biennial, details TBA. The opera sounds like Animal Farm for the Michael Pollan set.
New York City Opera
Gotham Chamber Opera
New York Philharmonic
American Symphony Orchestra
New York Opera Forum