Metropolitan 2014/2015 Season Opener Just a Couple of Hours Away!

Met Auditorium

 

In a couple of hours, the Metropolitan Opera will open its doors to the 2014/2015 season.  Tonight, the incomparable Maestro James Levine conducts Mozart’s masterpiece, “Le Nozze di Figaro.” You can listen live on Met Opera Radio or on the Met Opera Website by clicking here.

 

LISTEN LIVE!!!

Click here to Listen Live!!!

Cast for Nozze Di Figaro:

Countess Almaviva: Amanda Majeski
Susanna: Marlis Petersen
Cherubino: Isabel Leonard
Count Almaviva: Peter Mattei
Figaro: Ildar Abdrazakov

Ildar Abrazakov

Ildar Abdrazakov as Figaro

Production Team
Production: Richard Eyre
Set & Costume Designer: Rob Howell
Lighting Designer: Paule Constable
Choreographer: Sara Erde

Isabel Leonard

Isabel Leonard as Cherubino

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At The Met This Week

full-levine

Tomorrow, October 14th at 3pm, meet James Levine for Signing at the Met Shop in Lincoln Center. 

Click below for more information

Meet James Levine

Midsummer

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

7:25pm October 14th, on Sirius/XM Radio  (Met Opera Radio)

Two Boys

A talk on Nico Muhly’s Opera, “Two Boys”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 6:00 PM
Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Nico Muhly’s acclaimed opera, first seen in London in 2011, has its Met premiere in a production by Bartlett Sher. Peter Gelb talks with the composer, director, conductor David Robertson, and tenor Paul Appleby about bringing this thrilling contemporary work to the stage.

Anna Netrebko

Anna Netrebko and Mariusz Kwiecien

7:25pm Broadcast on Sirius/XM Radio (Met Opera Radio)

Exclusive Interview with Aprile Millo on the 200th Anniversary of Verdi’s Birth: Part II

Aprile as Aida large

Aprile Millo, one of the greatest Aida’s in history

Part II

The Last Verista:

The way that you are most connected to Verdi is via his heroines, so I’d like to delve into these amazing characters with you.  First, Luisa Miller and Amelia in Simon Boccanegra. How did these characters influence what was to come for you, vocally, and what was your journey toward singing them?

Aprile Millo: 

First, let me address how they came to me. The first was Simon Boccanegra. Because of the maturity of my instrument and because I was advanced at a young age, it was very hard to hold me back. For the early part, my mom (Margherita Girosi) believed that I should stay in Bel Canto, and I remained in the Bel Canto repertoire and I loved it. She  had felt that putting a large voice in something like Mozart would have crippled it and I’m pretty sure it would have crippled me. She said, “Always put the bigger voices in Bel Canto;  it teaches them to make the voice steady supported by the air in perfect smooth vowels and grow naturally over a longer period.” It also keeps you healthy and buoyant.  So when we came to Verdi, and when I came to the Met, it was difficult. My great friend Larry Stayer and Charlie Riecker did what they could for me and were my lights in a dark time.  I was refusing small roles and developing a chip on my shoulder.  Until Jimmy (Levine) got involved I didn’t feel safe, and they had great people, but no one I felt, got who and what I was.  

Jimmy graciously saw my growing agitation and he said come sing for us,  his participation hands on came extensively after they caught my message in a Young Artists follow up “Audition”.  He knew I was arguing with everyone and not very happy and frankly after I had sung for Von Karajan who had covered his face when I told him I was in an apprentice program at the Met.  He belabored, “You are not for that.  You have imagination and are an artist.  They will not know what to do with you and will stifle you!” I was even more unhappy.  I explained that James Levine would be in control of me and only him. My Mother stepped in again, and said “See what James Levine says. He isn’t going to make a mistake. Trust him.”  That said, when I returned I was asked to do a follow up audition and I did.  It was only after I sang the “Tu Che Invoco” and the “”O nume tutelar” from La Vestale that they realized what I really was.  In the audience was a famous coach and maestro from the olden days at La Scala, a great gentleman who Jimmy had asked to coach young voices at the Met named Dick Marzollo, and with whom I had prepared my Ernani for La Scala.. Levine had the right idea always, he was just terribly busy. Well after this audition, Marzollo stood up for me and waxed lyrical about my talent saying the right things to suggest they had a  rare voice and that it was a very old-fashioned, well-produced instrument and “she’s only 22-23 years old,” not to let me get away.  When Jimmy (Levine) became involved in working with me, he was like a young Serafin.  His knowledge of the psychology of what it took to sing rivaled anyone I had ever known….HE KNEW opera, LOVED opera, He finally said “If you will stay calm and work with David Stivender, who was not only the Choral Director of the massively talented chorus of the Met, but a Mascagni scholar and a really fine conductor who Jimmy knew would know what to do to get my best work and prep me well…Jimmy would make me the leading Verdi voice at the Metropolitan.

A complete version of Luisa Miller, starring Aprile Millo (Roma, 1990)

What clinched it, especially knowing the historic nature of that house, was when he finished saying….”You will be able to put your own stamp on the history of this house!” I was no fool, I listened and thrived with the combination of Stivender and the fabulous Rita Patané who herself had been a fabulous soprano and student of Maria Carbone. I finally relaxed. Jimmy rightly asked me to prepare Simon Boccanegra because for a young Verdi Voice she has to have it all, and yet it is a great mix of lyric and spinto.  She is the perfect preparation for young Verdi voices. She deals with the elements that you’ll later deal with in the larger repertoire and the step after that is either a Luisa Miller or a Trovatore.  Trovatore is usually better before a Luisa Miller.  Luisa Miller is a much larger role than they give her credit for and she’s now being sung by a lot of lyric sopranos, which is not really correct.  It has to have a real bite. 

So for me, Aida, was the combination of the two that I really felt the most comfortable with because I felt it was a dark lyric, with a nice penetrating sound that enjoyed flight, enjoyed being high and floating, enjoyed all of the things that I had learned from the Bel Canto. In the Trovatore I felt absolutely at home.  If you were to ask what were the linchpins in my career in Verdi’s provisioned fly and his magnificent sense of voice and understanding the voice, they would be Simon Boccanegra, Il Trovatore, Otello, Luisa Miller, and Don Carlo. These were all magnificent growth spurts.  What I really would love to have done and what I may do just in disc is Traviata or little extracts of it.  I’m looking at her with different eyes than I did then. I do wish I had sung her earlier. I also wish I had sung a Vespri Sicliani,they had offered to me twice at the Met because there is some gorgeous gorgeous music to be sung.  Again, it would be a pleasure to leave that in a time capsule, and I might still do that.

 The Last Verista:

Can you talk to us a bit more about Leonora and her music?  Which part of that role for you was the most satisfying as an artist, as a singer?

Aprile Millo: 

I would have to say the entirety of the last act or at least the music beginning in the middle of the third act, from the “L’onda dei suoni istici.” The duet shortly before “Di Quella Pira.” There’s something about the way that music fit. When the tenor is trying to coo with her and she’s coo-ing back and they’re going to be married or they have been married (that’s up in the air), she’s thinking about her wedding day, and he is too but is called away to take care of his mother.  There again is another force of destiny that we don’t even see, that the mother would kill.  They say the story is ludicrous and it’s not. So, you have the “Di Quella Pira” which then sets up with all this incredible blaze, you have her more or less trying to soothe things underneath his cell, which in those days was not in some precinct somewhere but usually under a tower. They would keep the enemy of the state very high up so no one could  be stolen back  or taken and set free. You would have to climb an embankment, you would have to climb up into the heavens, so to speak, so of course it wasn’t so easy. Monty Python not withstanding….like catapulting yourself over a bridge!   

 

millo-trovatore

For her, my favourite in the Leonora are, her arrival in the convent, “Perche Piangete.” There is something about her flight there that in that melody is the child she would never have, is the marriage she will never have, is the love that she will never experience.  All in that seven or eight bars, leading to the entrance to the convent upon which they are stopped by the armies of both men who are trying to stop her from getting in there. So the “Degg’io volgermi,” all of that magnificent writing that I used to love to spin that out so it was absolutely a lament, but a resigned lament. The words needed to take on the sense of being next to God but not totally there. If she were totally there, she would be happy so they always had to have this sense of melancholy borrowing from the Bel Canto, which to me sounds very similar to a Lucia type of vein. 

Leading into the “D’Amor Sull’Ali Rosee,” for me revolves around the middle voice.  My middle voice is always where I knew whether I was healthy or I’m not. If I have the middle voice, then I have the bottom and the top. The middle voice for “D’Amor” is so important because you’re really staying there the majority of the time, except for the beautiful flights where she’s trying to get up to him and Verdi writes this message as if it’s on these tiny wings of song that are placed musically on the staff.  You might interpret her, like a bird, not necessarily the dying swan, but in that same way trying to get out of her own body to get to him.  When she hears his voice and all of this music stops dead and and you feel again that sense of the “L’onda dei suoni mistici” that he’s singing somewhere about how he wants her and he misses her.  He’s lamenting the fact that they’re not together, catapults her toward her inevitable destiny because she arrives  on that scene with poison in her ring.  She knows she’s going to have to do something quite formidable in order to get him out. This is pretty much her swan-song and where Verdi uses some pretty gossamer moments. 

The way he wrote it, it is not written pianissimissimo, but it depends on if the singer is able to effect that then it lends a truly gorgeous aspect, but mustn’t be a trick.  You can do so much with this music that’s already doing everything for you without your having to do much.  You go today and hear people say this music is so fabulous but they’ve done nothing with it. They’re right, it is fabulous, it will be considered great whether you’ve got a great artist singing it or not, but when you have a great artist singing it, then “oh my.”  It takes on that other dimension where you can truly drive your audience to distraction. You can take them close to the sun… close to their truest emotions and bring them back safely.  He gives you the possibility to truly drive them out of their minds with the beauty of it. and their recognition of themselves in it.

The Last Verista:

Can we talk about us about Aida, a role that landed you a major place historically as one of the greatest Aida’s of all time? What about this particular character and her music, with which you are so closely linked.

To hear Aprile Millo’s commentary on Aida, click on the player below. 

 

Millo Aida

With Dolora Zajick

The Last Verista:

I’d like to show you this picture of Verdi, taken of Verdi at Sant’Agata.  What does this photograph make you feel? What is your inner most feeling about this man?

Verdi Seated at Sant'Agata

To hear Aprile Millo’s response to the photograph, click on the player below:

The Last Verista:

I’d like to read you one of Verdi’s only surviving references to the issue of “modernizing” his style.  Younger generations of composers were urging him to modernize and so Verdi was in a difficult position, but his comments here mention that he realizes what the situation is.  The letter was to Count Opprandino Arrivabene, in March 1868.  He wrote:

“I know, too, that there is a music of the future, but I think at present and will continue to think next year that to make a shoe you need some leather and some skins!…What do you think of this stupid comparison, which means that to make an opera you musc first have music in your body?!…I declare that I am and will be an enthusiastic admirer of the  avveniristi provided they make some music for me…in whatever form, with whatever system, etc., but it must be music!…Rest assured. I may very well lack the strength to arrive where I want to go, but I know what I want. (Marcello Conati and Mario Medici, eds, CarteggioVerdi-Boito (Parma: Istituto di Studi Verdiani, 1978), xxxiii). 

Aprile Millo:

Well, let me ask you. “What do you think he wanted?”  He said, I know what I want.  What do you think Verdi wanted out of music?

The Last Verista:

I’m humbled that you would ask me my thoughts.  I think Verdi was well aware of imposing factions, so to speak, and by that I mean the “German threat” that was discussed in many of the historical documents.  Wagner’s innovation was a serious issue in Italy in Verdi’s time and Wagner had completely wiped out the Italian conventions that composers had held so beloved as part of their tradition.  No more cavatina/cabalettas, no more number arias, no more solita forma, no more orchestra being subservient to the voice.  Of course, these innovations urged the younger generation to do something and to do it quick before operatic supremacy was completely taken from Italy and so of course they were going to harass, if you will, their leader, Verdi.  I think Verdi was caught between a rock and a hard place.  Essentially, he was powerful enough to do whatever he wanted and his operas were never going to go out of fashion–that is a given, but I also believe that Verdi wanted something new, as well.  I believe that he maintained middle period style as long as he could but something shifted in him later around the period before Aida in the mid 1860s and from then on, beginning with Aida and Ghislanzoni, and especially in the collaborations with Boito–the revision of Simon Boccanegra, the libretti for Otello and Falstaff, we see perhaps what Verdi was hinting at.  What might have come had he lived longer is a truly fascinating thought.

 What do you think he wanted?

Aprile Millo:

If you realize that this man in his 80s was going to mirror much of the fire of the nineteen year old composer, the twenty year old composer, the thirty-something year old composer, the fifty year old man who had to deal with censors every five minutes, he felt that he was just dealing with another type of censorship and so he was going to fight modernity.  Mind you, he did absorb it and he did find those skins and he put them on shoes that satisfied HIM. Now if someone had known how to present this to him, I would have asked, “What are the components that you feel must be present in order for it to be music?” If it’s what we see that he left printed on the page, then it’s pretty specific.  I don’t think he would have been a very big fan of Stravinsky, let’s say, but I think he would have appreciated it after he listened to it for months at at time.  He might have embraced the dissonance or the ambiguity. For him, music was very solid, straight forward, which was how it was built…from him playing the organ in the church as a young man.  He saw it in chords that were harmonic or dissonant that required resolution.  He didn’t see it as what evolved and what would go forward in the palate of Mascagni and Puccini…but I don’t see them as that different. I just think this idea of modernity was presented to a stubborn 80 year old guy and it recalled for him what these censors were trying to do to him as a younger man. 

The Last Verista:

The fact that he left Falstaff as his final statement is very telling because this is an opera  that went against a major censorial issue of the past, the separation of genres–that is, the separation of comedy and tragedy.  He had issues with this censorial faction when he was attempting to compose King Lear and also with Rigoletto and Macbeth (where the entire Porter’s scene had to be ommitted). Even if Verdi loved Shakespeare and wanted to model his operas after the plays, King Lear has a major character that is a Fool, and it would have been inordinately difficult for Verdi to skirt around that issue. Leaving a buffo character, leaving a comedic opera like Falstaff as a final statement after a deluge of serious subjects is, I think, directly related to his written comment.

Aprile Millo:

He left a thank you to Boito, I think by inserting a fugue in Falstaff when he had initially fought against those types of forms.  It’s almost as though he’s saying, “I get what you’re saying, but do you get that I could have done that, and I did do it and I’m 80 something, so now it’s your game.” It’s very interesting. And so wonderful for Boito who loved him so, and pushed him to greater heights. 

The Last Verista:

I’d like to read you the following text, which are the final lines of Falstaff, the final operatic text that Verdi left.

         Tutto nel mondo é burla.
          L’uom é nato burlone,
          La fede in cor gli ciurla,
          Gli ciurla la ragione.
          Tutti gabbati! Irride
          L’un l’altro ogni mortal.
          Ma ride ben chi ride
          La risata final. 

Aprile Millo: 

Basically this is his “risata finale.” He’s having the last laugh. Plain and simple, the very last words are “La Commedia è finita,” but it’s his comedy, it’s his finish and he gets, more or less, to have the last laugh. It shows him in such an advanced state using so many palates that he had used before, using all these idioms that had been supposedly investigated by other composers.  There he is. He’s able to do it with his own Italian imprint.  This is a victory and yet another reason why they should just put his face on the flag of Italy and be done with it because he’s just so much of what Italy represents in its best form and what should represent Italy.

The Last Verista:

I’d like to read you a statement of Giuseppe Giacosa, the librettist, who was at Verdi’s bedside when he died.  I’d like your reaction on this:

“The maestro is dead. He carried away with him a great quantity of light and vital warmth.  We had all based in the sun of his Olympian old age.  He died magnificently like a fighter redoubtable and mute.  The silence of death fell on him a week before he died.  With his head bent, his eyebrows set, he seemed to measure with half shut eyes an unknown and formidable adversary, calculating in his mind the force that he could summon up in opposition.  Thus he put up an heroic resistance.  The breathing of his great chest sustained him for four days and three nights; on the fourth night the sound of his breathing still filled the room; but what a struggle, poor maestro!  How magnificently he fought up to the last moment!  In the course of my life, I have lost persons whom I idolized, when grief was stronger than resignation.  But I have never experienced such a feeling of hate against death, such loathing for its mysterious, blind, stupid, triumphant, infamous power.  For such a feeling to be aroused in me I had to await the end of this old man of ninety.”  

Verdi died on the 27th of January at ten minutes to three in the morning, 1901.

Aprile Millo:

It’s important I guess to see how a person is in death because he so transfigured life. What I love is that Mr. Giacosa was able to detail an event in such a way that you feel like you’re there. And, if I were there I’d probably be ears ringing and hating death just as much as I do now and he did then.. He touches me greatly and I would have felt a darkness descend and then a sense of radiant peace as I am sure he arrived in Paradise. For all the beauty he gave the world…I do not care if he believed or not,  he wrote like a man with a message from God.  The interesting thing is that Verdi may have furrowed his brow and and dug his heels in but he went to the “paradise” he glimpsed and helped us see always in his music….. It must have felt like home. He said Good Bye; “o terra addio.” Finally met Manzoni, saw his first wife and his beloved children, embraced his loved ones there and his little puppy Lou-Lou of whom he wrote on his tombstone, was his very best friend.  He went from this earth to the one he painted for us. What you see in the image of the death mask is a vision of someone’s face saying, “It is exactly what I thought it was.” There is a quiet resignation and when life ceases and we realize that we’ve actually had a glimpse of paradise through Verdi’s music we’re going to be a lot more thankful to him than we were in life, and we’re going to say–for all those who miss the chance to hear him–sigh…what a loss for you, and what an awesome gift it was for me to know this genius.

The Last Verista:

Click on the player below to hear the remainder of the interview:

The Last Verista:

On behalf of singers the world over, and young singers who are looking to study Verdi, thank you for bringing such an honest, real, full of passion, and incredibly knowledgable perspective to us, but moreover, for your presentation of Verdi’s heroines.  You have a way of delivering him to us so that we feel a little bit closer to him every time we hear you sing his music, and so thank you for your incredible interpretations of his women and for your immense talent.  I’m sure if Maestro Verdi were able he’d thank you, as well.  Grazie mille, Aprile.  Sei grande.

Aprile Millo:

Thank you so much, Mary. You are so filled with music, with love for it, and at so young an age you have given so much of your life to the study of music.  Cannot wait to see you enjoy it now, as you begin to sing, and share your many gifts with the world. It has been my honor and privilege to witness your journey and your faith and love in music. God bless you with all you desire, and know that this colleague prays for your success and happiness as I pray for my own.  Brava.  Viva Verdi!!!!!

 

With Placido Domingo

To purchase any of Aprile Millo’s recordings, click on the links below.

    

    

James Levine Returns to the Met

Levine in Met

 

James Levine is a singer’s conductor.  Since 1971 he has riled the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra into frenzies of Wagnerian fortitude, balanced the beautiful webbed orchestration in Strauss, enchanted with the soaring cantilena of Puccinian melody, and exuded the splendour of Verdi’s unparalleled palate and all to showcase the instrument he knows how to support and promote more about than practically any conductor, the voice.  I have always been fascinated by this man, his intelligence, his understanding of opera, and most of all his ability to make the written page come to life in colours and flashes of light that are unfortunately missing in the bag of tricks that belong to most conductors today.

James Levine Boston Met

When I heard that Maestro Levine was going to return to the podium this season, I waited in great anticipation to hear which operas he would conduct.  Sorely disappointed was I that he would only conduct three, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.  For those three works, Cosi Fan Tutte (which premiered last evening), Falstaff, and Wozzeck, opera fans and aficionados who truly understand the art will flock to the Met to listen to the grandeur of Levine’s conducting.  It’s interesting how someone can be missing for a couple of years and when they return, we REALLY know what we’ve been missing.  How does that old adage go:  you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it?

Levine made his Met debut in 1971 following a June Festival performance of Tosca. Following further appearances with the company, he was named principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in February 1972 and became the Met’s music director in 1976.  He rose to higher acclaim In 1983 when he served as conductor and musical director for Franco Zeffirelli’s screen adaptation of La Traviata, which featured the Met orchestra and chorus members. He became the company’s first artistic director in 1986, but relinquished the title in 2004.  There is no question that during Levine’s tenure, the Met orchestra expanded its activities into the realms of recording, and performing in separate concert series for the orchestra and chamber ensembles at Carnegie Hall.  Additionally, he has led the Metropolitan Opera on many domestic and international tours. For the 25th anniversary of his Met debut, Levine conducted the world premiere of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, commissioned especially to mark the occasion. On his appointment as General Manager of the Met, Peter Gelb emphasized that James Levine was welcome to remain as long as he wanted to direct music there.  How gracious of him.

Return to MetLevine’s curtain call from last night’s Cosi Fan Tutte

Certainly, some things have changed at the Met, but last night brought the Levine we remembered (if not better) and the orchestra was at its finest.  Personally, I wish it had been Puccini that he chose to conduct or a Verdi or Strauss because I’ve never been a huge fan of Cosi Fan Tutte, but hey…whatever we can get.  I hope that Maestro Levine continues to live in good health because we definitely need him and those singers that have been either excluded or given one short run at the Met who are living examples of the machine that opera once was.  The other night, during opening night, Margaret Juntwait interviewed Rosalinde Elias and suddenly just through the splendour of that speaking voice, I was transported to a time I didn’t even live in, to a time not even that long ago when singing, conducting, and certainly directing, was of a different ilk.  Call me a lover of the golden age….I just am.  No apologies.  Levine still retains aspects of those singers who influenced him, and his presence can only continue to influence the ones of today.  Bravo Maestro Levine.  Continued health and much much more music to come.

full-levine

New York Times Review of Maestro Levine’s Return to the Met

The Last Verista’s “Pick of the Week” on Met Opera Radio for Dec. 6, 2010: Birgit Nilsson in Richard Strauss’ “Elektra”

If you have little time to listen this week, do listen to this production, conducted by James Levine, with Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, and Mignon Dunn from 1980.

 

On at:

Thursday at 9pm

Saturday at 9am

 

Here’s the rest of this week’s line-up:

Wednesday, 12/8
6:00 AM ET Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
4/12/1980-Levine; Eda-Pierre, Alexander, Battle, Atherton, Berberian

9:00 AM ET Wagner: Tannhäuser
1/9/1954-Szell; Vinay, Harshaw, London, Varnay, Hines

12:00 PM ET Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa
3/18/2006-Gergiev; Putilin, Guryakova, Balashov, Burchuladze, Diadkova

3:00 PM ET Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
3/27/1982-Chailly; Domingo, Welting, Troyanos, Eda-Pierre, Morris, Howells, Sénéchal

8:00 PM ET Puccini: La Bohème (LIVE FROM THE MET)
Rizzi Brignoli; Stoyanova, Calleja, Dehn, Capitanucci, Groissböck, Tiliakos

12:00 AM ET Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
2/28/1959-Schippers; Stella, Peerce, Merrill, Madeira, Hurley

Nilsson as Elektra

 

Thursday, 12/9
6:00 AM ET Mozart: Die Zauberflöte
1/22/1977-Conlon; Valente, Burrows, Shane, Plishka, Uppman

9:00 AM ET Janácek: Kát’a Kabanová
1/9/1999-Mackerras; Malfitano, Forst, Karnéus, Straka, Baker

12:00 PM ET Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
3/10/2007-Levine; Morris, Hong, Botha, Zifchak, Polenzani, Ketelsen

6:00 PM ET Verdi: Luisa Miller
1/27/1979-Levine; Scotto, Domingo, Milnes, Giaiotti, Morris, Kraft

9:00 PM ET R. Strauss: Elektra
2/16/1980-Levine; Nilsson, Rysanek, Dunn, McIntyre

12:00 AM ET Bellini: I Puritani
3/30/1991-Bonynge; Gruberova, Merritt, Gavanelli, Plishka

 

 

Friday, 12/10
6:00 AM ET Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa
3/18/2006-Gergiev; Putilin, Guryakova, Balashov, Burchuladze, Diadkova

9:00 AM ET Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
3/27/1982-Chailly; Domingo, Welting, Troyanos, Eda-Pierre, Morris, Howells, Sénéchal

12:00 PM ET Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
2/28/1959-Schippers; Stella, Peerce, Merrill, Madeira, Hurley

3:00 PM ET Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
4/12/1980-Levine; Eda-Pierre, Alexander, Battle, Atherton, Berberian

6:00 PM ET Wagner: Tannhäuser
1/9/1954-Szell; Vinay, Harshaw, London, Varnay, Hines

9:00 PM ET Gounod: Faust
2/26/1972-Rich; Domingo, Zylis-Gara, Sereni, Tozzi

12:00 AM ET Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice
1/18/1958-Rudolf; Stevens, Amara, Cundari

 

Saturday, 12/11
6:00 AM ET Bellini: I Puritani
3/30/1991-Bonynge; Gruberova, Merritt, Gavanelli, Plishka

9:00 AM ET R. Strauss: Elektra
2/16/1980-Levine; Nilsson, Rysanek, Dunn, McIntyre

12:00 PM ET Verdi: Luisa Miller
1/27/1979-Levine; Scotto, Domingo, Milnes, Giaiotti, Morris, Kraft

3:00 PM ET Janácek: Kát’a Kabanová
1/9/1999-Mackerras; Malfitano, Forst, Karnéus, Straka, Baker

6:00 PM ET Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
3/10/2007-Levine; Morris, Hong, Botha, Zifchak, Polenzani, Ketelsen

12:00 AM ET Mozart: Die Zauberflöte
1/22/1977-Conlon; Valente, Burrows, Shane, Plishka, Uppman

Sunday, 12/12
6:00 AM ET Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice
1/18/1958-Rudolf; Stevens, Amara, Cundari

9:00 AM ET Gounod: Faust
2/26/1972-Rich; Domingo, Zylis-Gara, Sereni, Tozzi

12:00 PM ET Wagner: Tannhäuser
1/9/1954-Szell; Vinay, Harshaw, London, Varnay, Hines

3:00 PM ET Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa
3/18/2006-Gergiev; Putilin, Guryakova, Balashov, Burchuladze, Diadkova

6:00 PM ET Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
4/12/1980-Levine; Eda-Pierre, Alexander, Battle, Atherton, Berberian

9:00 PM ET The Met on Record: L’elisir d’amore (1990)
Levine; Battle, Pavarotti, Nucci

12:00 AM ET Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
3/27/1982-Chailly; Domingo, Welting, Troyanos, Eda-Pierre, Morris, Howells, Sénéchal

Tonight on Sirius/XM: Catch Anna Netrebko as Norina in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”

Netrebko as Norina

 

November 10, 2010 at 8pm.

CAST

ConductorJames Levine
NorinaAnna Netrebko
ErnestoMatthew Polenzani
MalatestaMariusz Kwiecien
Don PasqualeJohn Del Carlo

 

THE PRODUCTION TEAM

Production: Otto Schenk
Set & Costume Designer: Rolf Langenfass
Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler

2010/2011 Season announced at the Metropolitan Opera

February 22, 2010

The following was announced this morning.  Some interesting productions, and some even more interesting (or should I say, awkward) casting choices.  We’ll see what pans out because nothing ever goes as planned in the world of opera.  Here’s to the MET for 2010/2011.  In Bocca al Lupo!

New York, NY (February 22, 2010)—Seven new productions, including two company premieres and the first two parts of a new Ring cycle, featuring many of the world’s greatest singers and conductors, will highlight the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010-11 season. General Manager Peter Gelb and Music Director James Levine announced plans for the Met premieres of John Adams’s Nixon in China and Rossini’s Le Comte Ory, the first two installments of Robert Lepage’s new production of Wagner’s epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, with stagings of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, and new productions of three repertory classics by debuting directors—Boris Godunov by Peter SteinDon Carlo byNicholas Hytner, and La Traviata by Willy Decker. With Nixon in ChinaPeter Sellars will also make his Met directorial debut, and Bartlett Sher, director of Le Comte Ory, will return for his third production here following his recent successful stagings of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

In his 40th anniversary season, Maestro Levine, who has conducted nearly 2,500 performances at the Met, more than any conductor in the company’s 126-year history, will conduct six operas across a range of repertory. The Met will celebrate the music director’s extraordinary, record-breaking Met career with historical DVD and CD releases of his performances, as well as a new documentary film about the maestro by award-winning director Susan Froemke. Levine will launch the 2010-11 season on Monday, September 27, 2010, with a gala performance of Das Rheingold. The first installment of the new Ring cycle by Robert Lepage, the opera will star Bryn Terfel in his first appearance as Wotan in the U.S. and Stephanie Blythe as Fricka. The new staging of Die Walküre will open on April 22, 2011, with Levine conducting a cast that includes Deborah Voigt in her first Met Brünnhilde, Eva-Maria Westbroek in her company debut as Sieglinde, Blythe as Fricka,Jonas Kaufmann in his first Siegmund at the Met, and Terfel as Wotan. Levine will also lead revivals of Don PasqualeIl TrovatoreSimon Boccanegra, and Wozzeck. On the actual date of his anniversary, June 5, he will conduct Don Carlo with the company on tour in Japan.

Acclaimed German director Peter Stein will make his Met debut with a new production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, opening October 11, conducted by Valery GergievRené Pape will sing the monumental title role for the first time at the Met. Verdi’s Don Carlo will premiere on November 22 in a new production by Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of London’s National Theatre, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The co-production, which opened at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, in 2008, will star Roberto Alagna in the title role, Marina Poplavskaya as Elisabeth de Valois, Simon Keenlyside as Rodrigo, andFerruccio Furlanetto as King Philip. The new La Traviata will premiere at a New Year’s Eve gala performance of Willy Decker’s hit production from the 2005 Salzburg Festival that has been modified and rebuilt for the Met, with Marina Poplavskaya as Violetta andMatthew Polenzani as Alfredo; Gianandrea Noseda conducts.

Celebrated composer John Adams will make his Met debut on the podium on February 2, conducting the Met premiere of his 1987 opera Nixon in China, in a production by Peter Sellars from the English National Opera. Rossini’s rarely heard comic opera Le Comte Orywill have its Met premiere on March 24, featuring Juan Diego Flórez in the title role, Diana Damrau as Countess Adèle, and Joyce DiDonato as Isolier, in Bartlett Sher’s new production.

Gelb said, “Maestro Levine’s 40th anniversary and the beginning of a new Ring cycle, both extraordinary events in the life of this great company, will inspire us to artistic heights and hopefully stimulate the public to fill our seats.”

Levine said, “After forty years of working with this great company, I am still excited by the prospect of a new season that introduces new repertory, new artists, and new challenges. And I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate my anniversary than beginning a new Ringcycle.”

The Met’s conducting roster will feature a number of notable debut artists in the 2010-11 season, including Simon Rattle, who leads Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and William Christie, who conducts Mozart’s Così fan tutteRoberto Rizzi BrignoliEdward GardnerPatrick FournillierErik Nielsen, and Paolo Arrivabeni also make their Met debuts leading important revivals during the season. Maestros returning to conduct revivals will include: Marco ArmiliatoAndrew DavisPlácido DomingoRiccardo FrizzaFabio LuisiNicola LuisottiAndris Nelsons, and Patrick Summers.

Highly acclaimed recent portrayals by some of the Met’s most popular stars will be reprised this season. Star soprano Renée Fleming performs the virtuoso title role of Rossini’sArmida, then switches gears to sing the Countess in Richard Strauss’s Capriccio (her first complete account of the role, though she sang the final scene at the Opening Night Gala in 2008). Susan Graham returns to the title role of Iphigénie en Tauride with Plácido Domingo repeating his noble Oreste. Natalie Dessay once again offers her brilliant portrayal of the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, and Elīna Garanča gives the audience another chance to witness her magnetic CarmenAnna Netrebko reprises her tour-de-force Norina in Don Pasquale, and Karita Mattila takes the stage as Lisa in The Queen of Spades, a role she has not sung here since 1995. Angela Gheorghiu comes back for Gounod’s Juliette for the first time since 1998, and Marcelo Álvarez again sings the title role in Il Trovatore.

Many of the world’s most prominent singers will be taking on roles they have never sung at the Met before, including Piotr Beczała as Roméo, Joseph Calleja as Edgardo in Lucia di LammermoorDanielle de Niese as Despina in Così fan tutte, Joyce DiDonato as the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Giuseppe Filianoti in the title role of Les Contes d’Hoffmann, opposite Olga Borodina as Giulietta and Ildar Abdrazakov as the Four Villains. Also in Met role debuts, Dmitri Hvorostovsky will sing the title role and Barbara Frittoli is Amelia in Simon BoccanegraMagdalena Kožená is Mélisande, Peter Mattei is Yeletsky and Dolora Zajick is the Countess in The Queen of SpadesPatricia Racettesings Leonora in Il TrovatoreSondra Radvanovsky and Violeta Urmana share the title role of Tosca, Deborah Voigt sings the title role and Marcello Giordani is Dick Johnson inLa Fanciulla del West, and Waltraud Meier is Marie and Matthias Goerne is the title role in Wozzeck.

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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This week on Sirius/XM Radio from the Metropolitan Opera

Monday, Feb. 1, 8pm:  Carmen

Olga Borodina

ConductorAlain Altinoglu
MicaelaJennifer Black
CarmenOlga Borodina
Don JoséBrandon Jovanovich
EscamilloMariusz Kwiecien

Production: Richard Eyre
Set & Costume Designer: Rob Howell
Lighting Designer: Peter Mumford
Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon

Tues. Feb. 2, 8pm:  Simon Boccanegra

Marcello Giordani

Sirius/XM Radio Broadcast

ConductorJames Levine
AmeliaAdrianne Pieczonka
GabrieleMarcello Giordani
SimonPlácido Domingo
FiescoJames Morris

Production: Giancarlo del Monaco
Set & Costume Designer: Michael Scott

Thur. Feb. 4, 8pm:  Ariadne auf Naxos

Sarah Connolly

Live on MET RADIO/Real Player/Sirius/XM Radio

ConductorKirill Petrenko
AriadneNina Stemme
ZerbinettaKathleen Kim
ComposerSarah Connolly
BacchusLance Ryan
Music MasterJochen Schmeckenbecher

Production: Elijah Moshinsky
Set & Costume Designer: Michael Yeargan
Lighting Designer: Gil Wechsler

Sat. Feb. 6, 1pm: Simon Boccanegra

Sirius/XM Radio Broadcast/Live on HD Telecast

ConductorJames Levine
AmeliaAdrianne Pieczonka
GabrieleMarcello Giordani
SimonPlácido Domingo
FiescoJames Morris

Production: Giancarlo del Monaco
Set & Costume Designer: Michael Scott

This week on Sirius/XM Radio: from the Metropolitan Opera


Conductor, James Levine


Monday, Jan. 25:  Sirius/XM Broadcast of Simon Boccanegra (8pm)

ConductorJames Levine
AmeliaAdrianne Pieczonka
GabrieleMarcello Giordani
SimonPlácido Domingo
FiescoJames Morris

Production: Giancarlo del Monaco
Set & Costume Designer: Michael Scott

Thursday, Jan. 28:  Sirius/XM/Listen Live Broadcast of Turandot (8pm)

Conductor: Julien Salemkour

TurandotLise Lindstrom
LiùGrazia Doronzio
CalafFrank Porretta
TimurHao Jiang Tian

Production: Franco Zeffirelli
Set Designer: Franco Zeffirelli
Costume Designers: Dada Saligeri, Anna Anni

Lighting Designer: Gil Wechsler ,Choreographer: Chiang Ching

Saturday, Jan. 30:  Sirius/XM Radio Broadcast of Stiffelio (1pm)

ConductorPlácido Domingo
LinaSondra Radvanovsky
StiffelioJosé Cura
StankarAndrzej Dobber
JorgPhillip Ens

Production: Giancarlo del Monaco

Set & Costume Designer: Michael Scott
Lighting Designer: Gil Wechsler

Review of Opening night of the 2009/2010 season at the MET: Puccini’s “Tosca”: Washington Post

OPERA

The Met’s Twist on ‘Tosca’? It’s the Audience That Gets the Knife.

By Anne Midgette

Karita Mattila as Tosca and Marcelo Alvarez as Cavaradossi in the Metropolitan Opera's season opener.

Karita Mattila as Tosca and Marcelo Alvarez as Cavaradossi in the Metropolitan Opera’s season opener. (By Ken Howard — Metropolitan Opera

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 — If art is a secular religion, opera can be a particularly orthodox sect of it. Certain rituals have become codified with time. In “La Bohème,” Rodolfo always clutches Mimi the same way when she dies. In “The Barber of Seville,” the maid, Berta, always sneezes loudly after taking snuff. And in Act 2 of “Tosca,” Tosca always spots the knife with which she is going to kill Baron Scarpia at a particular chord in the music; and she always sets lighted candles around his dead body before she leaves the room. It’s in the score; it’s in the music; it must be so.

So when Luc Bondy, the director of the new “Tosca” that opened the Metropolitan Opera’s season Monday night, had Tosca fail to do those things, he was virtually guaranteed a lusty chorus of boos.

Opening night at the Met is something of an international observance, particularly since the accession of Peter Gelb as general manager in 2006. Gelb’s first opening night featured a “Madame Butterfly” from the English National Opera by the film director Anthony Minghella, whose presence drew considerable star wattage, with the likes of Sean Connery and Jude Law in attendance. None of the subsequent opening nights of Gelb’s tenure has been quite as lustrous, and with reason: None, including this “Tosca” (which will be broadcast live to movie theaters around the world on Oct. 10) has been artistically as good.

Redoing “Tosca” was going to be sacrilege to some people, no matter what Bondy came up with. The Met’s previous “Tosca,” by Franco Zeffirelli, which dated from 1985, was seemingly set in stone: It faithfully reproduced each of the Rome locations specified in the score, so that you got a veritable postcard of the Palazzo Farnese in Act 2, which plays out in Scarpia’s study, and a faithful reproduction of the last-act Castel Sant’Angelo, from whose parapet Tosca leaps to her death. Zeffirelli, a local hero at the Met, did not go gently into the good night; in an interview with the New York Times before the performance, he dismissed Bondy as “third-rate.”
Bondy certainly tried to clear away the layers of encrustation from the opera, rather like a restorer trying to clear the varnish from a painting. The problem was that he didn’t always seem to have a vision of the strong underlying image he was trying to reveal. His modus operandi seemed to be to get rid of all of the Tosca traditions and start afresh, but “afresh” often involved gestures every bit as gratuitous as the ones he was trying to replace. For instance: Tosca doesn’t place the candles around Scarpia’s body, and place the cross on his breast, after she kills him in Act 2; instead, she runs to the window and contemplates a suicide leap, forecasting her demise at the end of Act 3. Like so many of this production’s gestures, it’s contrived and a little odd without being particularly effective.

Bondy also loosely disconnects the action from its historical time and place without altogether updating it. The costumes, by Milena Canonero (a three-time Oscar winner for films including “Marie Antoinette”), stay in the early 19th century, but the sets by Richard Peduzzi waver in an uncomfortable ahistoricalness. The Romanesque brick church of the first act looks almost like a postwar reconstruction of an ancient cathedral, while Scarpia’s study, with hideous yellow and brown walls hung with big maps of Italy, evokes dreary institutions circa 1960. It is perhaps a perfect setting for Scarpia: so unpleasant it is difficult to be in, for the characters and for the audience.

The star of the evening — her face, chosen as the icon of this season, has been plastering New York buses and billboards for some weeks — was the Finnish soprano Karita Mattila. Mattila isn’t the most Italianate of singers, but she won my admiration by clearly grasping the challenges of the role and throwing herself into it wholeheartedly, even when it didn’t play to her natural strengths. Her voice may not have the iron the role might demand, and she was a little flat on her high notes, but she held nothing back, took abundant risks, and bit into a gravelly chest voice time and again to show the character’s despair.

Her Cavaradossi, Marcelo Alvarez, was just the opposite: His voice naturally fits the role, but he sang it almost carelessly, worrying a lot more about making big sounds than about singing through to the ends of his phrases. You might say he was in a time-honored Italian tradition, and he sounded pretty good.

George Gagnidze was a late replacement when the scheduled Scarpia, Juha Uusitalo, had to withdraw because of illness. Initially small-voiced and dry, he ultimately acquitted himself honorably in a role that was hampered by Bondy’s conception of the character as a weak bully, surrounded by ladies of leisure in his study who try to pleasure him as he sings of his love for Tosca, and then sobbing on his hands and knees when she tells him she wants to leave Rome after sleeping with him to free Cavaradossi.

The strongest guiding hand of the evening was James Levine in the pit, who generally offered a reminder that this opera’s music can indeed still be fresh, vital and (in a couple of solo spots in particular) absolutely ravishing.

For most of the audience, though, the decent-to-good musicmaking will not outweigh the sacrilege of Bondy’s production. Tosca’s stabbing of Scarpia — hiding the knife behind the sofa cushions, then driving it into him when he leaps upon her for the sex she has promised him — was actually quite effective. It wasn’t orthodox, though, and it infuriated the audience still more. Opera, sung in a foreign language with subtitles and shown in movie theaters, has come to resemble a foreign film in the minds of some American audiences: People assume that it needs to be exactly the same each time you see it, without realizing that in live theater, this isn’t at all the point of the exercise.