The Metropolitan Opera announced today that Yannick Nézet-Séguin (pictured left) is the new Music Director starting with the 2020-21 season. He will become the Met's Music Director Designate during the 2017-18 season.
The Metropolitan Opera
September 26- October 27 2016 : Tristan und Isolde
September 27 2016- May 11 2017: Don Giovanni
September 28 2016- January 14 2017: La Bohème
October 4-29 2016: L'Italiana in Algeri
October 18- November 12 2016: Guillaume Tell
October 28- November 17 2016: Jenufa
November 5 2016- April 20 2017: Aida
November 14- December 10 2016: Manon Lescaut
December 1-29 2016: L'Amour de Loin
December 5-28 2016: Salome
December 12 2016- January 7 2017: Nabucco
December 20 2016- January 5 2017: The Magic Flute
December 31 2016- March 18 2017: Roméo et Juliette
January 9-February 11 2017: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
January 20-April 27 2017: Rigoletto
February 2- March 2 2017: Rusalka
February 10-28 2017: Il Puritani
February 16- March 9 2017: Werther
February 24- April 14 2017: La Traviata
March 6-25 2017: Idomeneo
March 16- April 8 2017: Fidelio
March 30- April 22 2017: Eugene Onegin
April 13- May 13 2017: Der Rosenkavalier
April 25- May 12 2017: Der Fliegende Holländer
May 2-13 2017: Cyrano de Bergerac
The Met announced the 2016-2017 season today. There will be 225 performances of 26 operas, including six new productions. The new productions are Tristan und Isolde, Guillaume Tell, L'Amour de Loin, Roméo et Juliette, Rusalka, and Der Rosenkavalier.
* Notes *
A spectacular new production of Lulu (pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) opened at the Metropolitan Opera last night. Director William Kentridge's staging is vibrant, and the singing and playing was strong.
There were times when the production was perhaps busy, there was a lot of enormous video art projected across the stage and much use of silent dancers, but Kentridge's visual language has a marvelous consistency. The silent film in the middle of the opera came out rather beautifully.
The orchestra gave a spirited performance under the baton of Maestro Lothar Koenigs, and the music is utterly disturbing, as is the whole opera. I felt viscerally ill, and have rarely been so physically effected by a performance.
All the singing was perfectly fine, the piece is well-cast. Tenor Daniel Brenna had a lovely Met debut as Alwa. Susan Graham was impressive as Countess Geschwitz. Best of all was the Lulu, Marlis Petersen. Not only does she have incredible legs that were put to good use in the staging, her voice is powerful but still has a wonderful fragility to it that works really well in embodying the role.
* Tattling *
Standing room in Family Circle only had about four people, and there were plenty of seats for the taking. As there was nearly no one near me, there was little bad behavior on display. The video art is perhaps best viewed from afar, I was glad to not be on the orchestra level for this one.
September 21 2015- May 6 2016: Otello
September 23 2015- January 30 2016: Turandot
September 25 2015- February 13 2016: Il Trovatore
September 26 2015- January 9 2016: Anna Bolena
October 8-31 2015: Tannhäuser
October 16- December 1 2015: Tosca
October 20- December 17 2015: Rigoletto
November 5- December 3 2015: Lulu
November 23 2015- May 5 2016: La Boheme
December 4 2015- January 7 2016: Die Fledermaus
December 16 2015- January 2 2016: The Barber of Seville for Families
December 31 2015- February 4 2016: Les pêcheurs de perles
January 21-February 26 2016: Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci
January 29-February 20 2016: Maria Stuarda
February 12- March 11 2016: Manon Lescaut
February 19- April 12 2016: Madama Butterfly
February 25- March 26 2016: Le Nozze di Figaro
March 10- April 7 2016: L'Elisir d'Amore
March 24- April 19 2016: Roberto Devereux
April 1-16 2016: Simon Boccanegra
April 14- May 7 2016: Elektra
April 22- May 7 2016: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
The Met announced the 2015-2016 season today. There will be 227 performances of 25 operas, including six new productions. The new productions are Otello, Lulu, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Manon Lescaut, Roberto Devereux, and Elektra.
* Notes *
A revival of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk opened at the Metropolitan Opera last night. Graham Vick's 1994 production is humorous and makes quite good use of space, despite being essentially constrained to one room (pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard). Though there was much going on at all times, the staging enhanced the piece, rather than detracting from it. The brides wielding vacuum cleaners in Act I and the disco ball of Act III were particularly entertaining.
Maestro James Conlon conducted the Met Orchestra to fine effect. The playing was intense yet polished. There were beautiful contributions from the bassoon, English horn, and bass clarinet. The brass sounded imposing. Likewise the chorus sounded together and formidable.
Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek is a fiery Katerina Lvovna Ismailov, radiating strength, but able to sound desperate and ultimately despairing. Brandon Jovanovich convinced as Sergei. His voice is both powerful and lovely. Raymond Very's voice contrasted nicely with Jovanovich's. His Zinoviy Borisovich Izmailov was bungling without being a complete buffoon. Anatoli Kotscherga made for a sinister Boris Timofeyevich Izmailov, his voice entirely suiting the role.
* Tattling *
We sat in a part of the dress circle that was not especially crowded. At least one watch alarm and one mobile telephone rang during the second half of the opera.
* Notes *
A sixth Metropolitan Opera performance of John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer (Act II, Scene 2 pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) was held last Saturday. There were a handful of protesters with signs reading "Shame on Peter Gelb Met Opera" and so forth. The opera itself is not particularly contentious, if anything, it is a mild, mournful piece. The characters are shown as rather human, and of course there was a choice line from Leon Klinghoffer regretting his hatlessness. One imagines that this production might not be as well-attended were it not for the vehemence of the demonstrators.
The orchestra had a graceful clarity under the baton of David Robertson. The strings were particularly lucid, as were the woodwinds. The Met chorus also sounded strong and cohesive.
The principal singers all seemed suited to their roles. It was a joy to hear former Adler Fellows Sean Pannikar (Molqi) and Maya Lahyani (Palestinian Woman). Bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock had a strikingly disturbing aria as Mamoud in Act I, Scene 2. Baritone Paulo Szot made for an appropriately conflicted Captain. Baritone Alan Opie (Leon Klinghoffer) sang his finale aria with gravitas. Mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens was poignant as Marilyn Klinghoffer, her voice is rich and full.
Tom Morris' production makes use of projected text and historical photographs. The text is somewhat burdensome, and the photographs less so. The effect of the bright sun in Act II is haunting. The dancing, choreographed by Arthur Pita, is impressive, especially in the case of Jesse Kovarsky (Omar).
* Tattling *
I repeatedly hushed the woman behind me in Family Circle, as she spoke during the quietest parts of the music at the beginning of Act I. She informed me that she was reading the projected text that she could see to the two blind women she was with, and I sheepishly apologized at intermission.
I moved down to the right side of the last row of the Grand Tier to sit with some friends. A young composer seated near us may have spoken quite a lot during the music, but it was difficult muster annoyance at this, having already been so mortified by my own previous behavior.
The Met has secured a new labor agreement with IATSE Local One, the union representing the company's stagehands. Final negotiations are to take place with eight smaller unions representing behind-the-scenes Met personnel. All are expected to reach agreements, preventing a potential labor crisis at the nation's largest performing arts organization.
According to a press release from this morning, the Met has reached agreements with two of its largest unions, AGMA and Local 802. The contract deadline has been extended through midnight on Tuesday, August 19 to allow Local One and the other remaining unions with unsettled contracts more time to secure new deals with the institution.
According to a press release from today the Met has canceled its Live in HD transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer scheduled for this fall. The Met's General Manager, Peter Gelb says "I'm convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic but I've also become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe."
The 2014 winners of the Metropolitan Opera (pictured left) National Council Auditions are sopranos Julie Adams and Amanda Woodbury; tenor Yi Li; bass-baritone Ao Li; and bass Patrick Guetti. Four of these five are associated with the Merola Opera Program. Adams and Woodbury are Merolini this year. Yi Li was in Merola in 2012 and Ao Li was in Merola in 2010. Ao was, of course, also an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera for three years. Adams recently graduated from San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
September 22- December 20 2014: Le Nozze di Figaro
September 23 2014- January 24 2015 : La Bohème
September 24- October 18 2014: Macbeth
September 30 2014- March 7 2015: Carmen
October 6- November 8 2014: Die Zauberflöte
October 20- November 15 2014: The Death of Klinghoffer
October 30 2014- April 20 2015: Aida
November 10-29 2014: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
November 18- December 6 2014: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
December 2-23 2014: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
December 11 2014- January 24 2015: La Traviata
December 18 2014- January 8 2015: Hansel and Gretel
December 31 2014- May 7 2015: The Merry Widow
January 12- March 21 2015: Les Contes d'Hoffmann
January 26- February 21 2015: Iolanta / Duke Bluebeard's Castle
February 4- March 6 2015: Don Giovanni
February 16- March 14 2015: La Donna del Lago
March 9-28 2015: Manon
March 16- April 10 2015: Lucia di Lammermoor
March 20- April 11 2015: Ernani
March 30- April 25 2015: Don Carlo
April 14- May 8 2015: Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci
April 23- May 9 2015: Un Ballo in Maschera
May 1-9 2015: The Rake's Progress
The Met announced the 2014-2015 season today. The new productions are Le Nozze di Figaro, The Death of Klinghoffer, The Merry Widow, Iolanta, Duke Bluebeard's Castle, La Donna del Lago, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Pagliacci.
The Metropolitan Opera has announced the addition of three new composers to its Met/LCT New Works Program: Matthew Aucoin, David T. Little, and Joshua Schmidt. Two new premieres were also announced, namely Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel, to be seen in the 2017-18 season and Osvaldo Golijov's adaptation of the Euripides play Iphigenia in Aulis, which premieres in the 2018-19 season. Other contemporary works to be seen soon at the Met include John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer in the 2014-15 season and Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de Loin in the 2016-17 season.
* Notes *
William Kentridge's 2010 production of The Nose (pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) at the Metropolitan Opera was revived on Saturday afternoon. The matinée performance was an utter delight. The combination of music, singing, animation, set, and choreography all came together wonderfully. Performed without an intermission, the intensity of the proceedings is impressive. The only real problem was that Valery Gergiev had the orchestra playing a bit too loudly for some of the singers. The tempi seemed brisk.
The ensemble and choral singing were particularly strong. Ying Fang sounded lovely in the last scene of Act I as the female soloist at Kazan Cathedral. Alexander Lewis makes for a sprightly Nose, his voice is bright. Andrei Popov also has wonderful command of his choreography as the Police Inspector and projected nicely. Paulo Szot's voice is not quite incisive enough to cut through heavy orchestration but his general demeanor as Kovalyov is sympathetic and warm.
* Tattling *
This is the first opera at the Met since 2006 that I have attended in a regular seat, so not standing or at a score desk. Unfortunately the two people next to me in Row N of the orchestra level arrived at 1:07pm and left right when the music ended, not convenient since they were not on the aisle. I suspect they were associated with the production, which would be rather shameful, given that the man in N 116 had an iPhone that rang twice. Once was at the end of the Kazan Cathedral scene where Kovalyov confronts The Nose, and the other time was during the entr'acte before the balalaika scene.
* Notes *
David McVicar's production of Giulio Cesare (Act III pictured left, photograph by Marty Sohl) had a fourth performance at the Metropolitan Opera last night. Having attended no less than six performances of the Met's previous production, it was nice to see that McVicar's offering is much less staid. The shifts in costumes must have been confusing for those not familiar with the music, especially if one was seated far from the stage. Cleopatra, for instance, had everything from a long braid to a bob. The set, designed by Robert Jones, is both quite simple, in that it is transformed using sumptuous cloths, and elaborate, given the mechanized seascape used as a background. Andrew George's campy choreography is a delight. There were many dance moves that I will be practicing at home to Händel's music for hours to come. The more serious scenes did not come off as nicely, Cornelia's blood lust in Act III was alarming, and hearing audience members laugh at this even more so.
Maestro Harry Bicket kept the orchestra in line, neat and square. Having the violin soloist on stage for Act II's "Se in fiorito ameno prato" was charming. One of the horns in the finale did not play particularly well, but the horn soloist made very few errors during "Va tacito e nascosto." The chorus, relegated to the pit, sang well as usual. Guido Loconsolo (Achilla) sounded gritty. Christophe Dumaux (Tolomeo) continues to improve as a singer, he is an excellent villain. His voice tends toward pretty and girlish, but he was able to convey the cruelty of his character. Alice Coote's voice contrasted perfectly with Patricia Bardon's, though both are mezzo-sopranos. Coote gasped slightly as Sesto, but was sweet and light, yet still had good volume. Bardon sang a rich, deep, and tragic Cornelia. The gravity of her role is a bit at odds with the production.
Natalie Dessay seemed to be giving the role of Cleopatra her all. She is fully committed to all her movements, and she is a pleasure to watch. She is vocally less consistent, there is an undercurrent of frog-like ugliness to her sound. Her high tessitura can glitter without any harshness, but there were times when her voice seemed to disappear. One of her notes in "V'adoro pupille" was rather strange and out of place. However, her "Piangerò la sorte mia" was lovely. David Daniels was perfectly fine as Giulio Cesare, his singing is robust, though he does have a lot of vibrato. There is a certain smoothness to the transitions between different parts of his voice.
* Tattling *
There were some problems with the white curtains during "Tu la mia stella sei."
In Family Circle there were many watch alarms at each hour and people chatted during the music.
According to a press release, Natalie Dessay (pictured left, photograph by Marty Sohl) was ill for the second performance of the Met's Giulio Cesare. Danielle de Niese sang the role of Cleopatra instead.