The Metropolitan Opera

The Met's 2020-2021 Season

MetoperaSeptember 21- December 12 2020: Aida
September 22- October 16 2020: Les Contes d'Hoffmann
September 23- October 10 2020: Roberto Devereux
October 2 2020- March 12 2021: Carmen
October 17- November 6 2020: Tristan und Isolde
October 24 2020- May 8 2021: La Traviata
October 30 2020- May 29 2021: Il Trovatore
November 12- December 5 2020: The Fiery Angel
November 21 2020- April 17 2021: La Bohème
November 30- December 23 2020: Fidelio
December 11 2020- January 14 2021: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
December 15 2020- January 8 2021: Hansel and Gretel
December 31 2020- June 5 2021: Die Zauberflöte
January 12- April 22 2021: Roméo et Juliette
March 2-21 2021: Giulio Cesare
March 1- May 20 2021: Don Giovanni
March 5-20 2021: Lulu
March 16- April 6 2021: Rusalka
April 8- May 2 2021: Dead Man Walking
March 26- May 15 2021: Nabucco
April 16- May 6 2021: Die Frau Ohne Schatten
May 7- June 4 2021: Il Pirata
May 21- June 5 2021: Billy Budd

The Met announced the 2020-2021 season. The new productions are Aida, The Fiery Angel, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, and Dead Man Walking. Sunday matinee performances are continuing and the season extends into June.

Press Releases | Official Site


Wozzeck at the Met

WOZ_1544a* Notes *
William Kentridge's latest production of Wozzeck (pictured, photograph by Ken Howard) at The Met perfectly captures the nightmarish quality of Berg's piece. The opening yesterday evening was one of immersive theater and absolutely beautiful playing from the orchestra.

The set is dark, filled with projected drawings, animations, and video footage of human movement. The beauty of the images really puts to shame much of the screensaver-like video projections we often see on the opera stage.

There are a couple of actors dressed up as soldier/nurse hybrids complete with gas masks, caps with red crosses, and aprons. It was as if Kentridge's images had come to life and the effect is unsettling.

Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted a clarion orchestra, the shape of the music apparent and striking. The banda that comes on stage through a wardrobe did particularly well. The chorus also was great, sounding cohesive and embodying the aesthetic of the production.

The cast is strong, as one would expect. Bass-baritone Christian Van Horn is malicious but still comic as the Doctor, matched well by the incisive tones from tenor Gerhard Siegel as the Captain. Tenor Christopher Ventris is a bold Drum Major, appealing but his cruelty comes through clearly in Act II, Scene 5, when he taunts Wozzeck.

Mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford (Margret) has some wonderfully deep low notes, a fine contrast with soprano Elza van den Heever (Marie). Van den Heever showed her range, she could be terrifying, almost harsh and sweet and even close to angelic. Most impressive is baritone Peter Mattei in the title role. His warm sound is engaging, and his pathos made Wozzeck seem very human.

IMG_1901* Tattling *
We sat in Row B, all the way to the right of the house. After 8pm, when the performance was supposed to begin, a woman boldly sat in front of us, where one of the staff usually sits to guard a door to the orchestra pit. The employee directly asked to see the person's ticket, and she made many excuses, even lying that she did have that seat.

There was some light talking, and someone loudly hushed the offenders at least once. Some people definitely left early, even though there was no intermission.


The Magic Flute at the Met

Flute_Final_2567_C* Notes *
The Met's holiday presentation of The Magic Flute (David Portillo as Tamino, photograph by Karen Almond ) is completely charming. The abridged version in English is less than two hours long, and perfect for children.

I saw the full version of this production in German more than twelve years ago, and vividly remember Julie Taymor's cunning use of puppetry. It holds up well, my five-year-old didn't say a word for the entire performance.

He loved the bears dancing when Tamino plays the flute, the sight gags of lobster and spaghetti with Papageno, and the flamingos in "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen." J. D. McClatchy's translation is direct and immediate. The illustrated synopsis was helpful, this might be a good idea for all operas, but really made the action clear to my son, who has seen the DVD version of this production twice, but liked having a refresher on what was going to happen.

Maestro Lothar Koenigs conducted a sprightly and beautiful orchestra, the only fuzzy note coming from the horns during the trial by fire. The chorus was lovely and transparent.

The cast is very good. Tenor Rodell Rosel is very funny as Monostatos, the crowd adored him with his bat wings and eight little claws. The audience also loved baritone Joshua Hopkins as Papageno. He has a very sympathetic presence, and his dance moves are extremely funny. His sound has a delightful lightness. Bass Soloman Howard is a noble Sarastro. He is creaky, but not in an unpleasant way.

Soprano Ying Fang (Pamina) is limpid and bright. Her voice showed no strain at all. Soprano Kathryn Lewek is almost brassy as the Queen of the Night, but not at all shrill. Her metallic sound was pronounced in her first aria and more bird-like in her second. Tenor David Portillo is a fine Tamino, his voice is so open and clear.

Theo-met-2019* Tattling *
When the 2019-2020 season was announced, I was very keen on going to Wozzeck, as the production ins from William Kentridge. Somehow I convinced my spouse that we should have Christmas in New York City, and since our five-year-old (pictured) loves Mozart, I thought it was a good opportunity to go to The Magic Flute with him. Since he was very much into San Francisco Opera's Hansel and Gretel last month, I wasn't too worried about if he could sit still for one hour and 45 minutes. He himself was a bit concerned, but we took the subway to Lincoln Center, had a chocolate chip cookie on the concourse level of the theater, took the elevator to the top of the house, and walked back down to our seats in the front row of the orchestra. I sat in Row A Seat 108, which is obstructed by the conductor and let my child enjoy the better seat.

Theo was nervous about the snake in the beginning, and asked if it was acceptable to close his eyes for that part. I told him it was fine, and this is the first opera performance we've been to together that he hasn't ended up on my lap. It was so sweet to hear him laugh at Papageno and to share this music with him, it had me in tears by the end of the opera. As soon as we got back to the place we are staying in New York, Theo excitedly told his little sister that he had seen "the real Papageno."

Since we were so close to the stage, even the small amount of talking from audience members was easy to ignore. I also noticed some snoring from the person on the other side of Theo, but this was very brief.

There are two more matinee performances this Saturday and next Thursday. The weekend performance also features an open house.


The Met's 2019-2020 Season

MetoperaSeptember 23 2019- February 1 2020: Porgy and Bess
September 24- October 26 2019: Manon
September 25- October 12 2019: Macbeth
October 3 2019- April 25 2020: Turandot
October 11 2019- April 11 2020: Madama Butterfly
October 20- November 10 2019: Orfeo ed Euridice
October 25 2019- May 7 2020: La Bohème
November 8- December 7 2019: Akhnaten
November 16 2019- February 22 2020: Le Nozze di Figaro
November 29- December 21 2019: The Queen of Spades
December 13 2019- January 4 2020: Der Rosenkavalier
December 15 2019- January 4 2020: The Magic Flute
December 27 2019- January 22 2020: Wozzeck
January 10- March 19 2020: La Traviata
January 25- February 15 2020: La Damnation de Faust
February 6- March 7 2020: Agrippina
February 15- March 14 2020: Così fan tutte
March 2-27 2020: Der fliegende Holländer
March 12- April 3 2020: La Cenerentola
March 16- April 4 2020: Werther
March 26- April 18 2020: Tosca
April 10-25 2020: Simon Boccanegra
April 28- May 8 2020: Manon Lescaut
May 2-9 2020: Káťa Kabanová

The Met announced the 2019-2020 season today. The new productions are Porgy and Bess, Der fliegende Holländer, Wozzeck, Agrippina, and Akhnaten. Sunday matinee performances are being offered for the first time.

Press Release | Official Site


Adriana Lecouvreur at the Met

ADL_1779a* Notes * 
Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur had a final performance this season last night at the Metropolitan Opera. There was much prettiness in the music, staging, and singing.

The new David McVicar production is very droll, everything looks nice and Rococo, as the piece is set in 1730. There is one long pause between Acts I and II, but McVicar puts in a sight-gag to draw the audience back in before the music starts up again.

Maestro Gianandrea Noseda and the orchestra reveled in the loveliness of Cilea's music. It is not at all a surprise to read that Cilea admired Bellini. The opera has some fun Neo-baroque music, and I especially liked the ballet in Act III (Act III pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard).

The cast had many strong singers. Baritone Ambrogio Maestri as stage manager Michonnet was endearing, he loves Adriana and is both funny and kind, the warmth of his voice was very nice for this. As Adriana's murderous rival, the Princess of Bouillon, mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili is simply a malevolent force. Her sound is deliciously dark and passionately evil, she's the perfect villain.

ADLJR_0307aTenor Piotr Beczala is dashing as love-interest Maurizio, with a sunny, sweet tone. I was not initially impressed by soprano Jennifer Rowley, who shared the title role with Anna Netrebko. Rowley struck me as shrill, she has a lot of vibrato. She did win me over though, Act II was definitely better. Her Act IV aria "Poveri fiori" was moving.

* Tattling * 
We will be seeing this at the War Memorial at some point, as this is a co-production of the Met; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Wiener Staatsoper; San Francisco Opera; and L'Opéra National de Paris.

I was in standing room on the orchestra level, and was struck by how nice everyone was to each other. I was offered seats on no less than three occasions, which, of course, I turned down.


Pelléas et Mélisande at the Met

Pelleas_3036_A* Notes * 
Debussy's mysterious Pelléas et Mélisande (pictured left, photograph by Karen Almond) had a splendid fourth performance this season at the Metropolitan Opera yesterday. Though the singing was lovely, the real stars of the show was conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the orchestra.

The production is straight-forward enough, the revolving set is made of walls that can be rearranged to change the scenes. There were two short pauses for this (and two intermissions) but considering that the performance is 4 hours long, this was pretty efficient. The scene changes were impressively quiet.

The direction did take some of the dramatic effect out of Pelléas' death by having the couple kiss ardently, rationalizing Golaud's response perhaps, and certainly making him sound silly when he sings "Ils s'étaient embrassés comme des petits enfants...Ils étaient frère et soeur..." in Act V.

Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin had the orchestra sounding utterly transparent and vibrant. All the lushness of the score was on full display.

The cast is solid. Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen seemed wooden in Act I and II, but perhaps that is how Golaud should be, as the evening progressed he got more and more erratic and downright scary.

Pelleas_2685_CTenor Paul Appleby is a fine, youthful Pelléas. He showed his range from tender to passionate in his last scene in Act IV. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard gave a convincing portrayal of Mélisande. Her pure sound tends toward the ethereal which is perfect for this role.

Most distinctive was bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. His voice is gorgeously resonant and his Arkel the most sympathetic of all the characters. His singing in Act IV Scene 2 was especially appealing.

* Tattling * 
Someone appeared onstage before the performance to announce a casting change. The relief of the audience that it was the role of Yniold, the young son of Golaud, that was replaced was palpable.

Since I was able to convince my dear friend to come to New York to see this opera with me -- she lives in Colorado, has two toddlers, and is 7 months pregnant -- I sprang for first row seats. My view was "obstructed" by the conductor, but I did not mind in the least.


Iolanta and Bluebeard's Castle at the Met

Iolanta_03002-s* Notes * 
Mariusz Treliński's 2015 striking production of Iolanta (pictured left, photograph by Marty Sohl) and Bluebeard's Castle at the Metropolitan Opera was revived last night. The singing in both operas is wonderful, and conductor Henrik Nánási had a fine Met debut.

The production is highly-detailed, with an attractive set. There are lots of projections. The narration and sound-effects for Bluebeard seem unnecessary, pointlessly dragging out the performance when Bartók's music should be more than sufficient. The scenes changes did pack a lot of punch and I did like that both operas inhabited the same creepy forest.

Maestro Henrik Nánási and the orchestra gave a fluid, shapely account of both operas. The brass had some fuzziness in Iolanta but was clear for Bluebeard. Tchaikovsky certainly had the two harps working hard in the second half of Iolanta, and the playing was very impressive.

Bluebeard_0520sThe contrast of the two lead sopranos is remarkable. As plaintive Iolanta, Sonya Yoncheva has a warm resonance, she always sounds very comfortable in her voice and grounded. Angela Denoke has a penetrating quality as Judith in Bluebeard, but is never shrill, with a creamy iciness.

Bass Vitalij Kowaljow projected power as King René in Iolanta. I liked baritone Alexey Markov's brightness as Robert, and the fresh, open sound of tenor Alexey Dolgov, who filled in for an ailing Matthew Polenzani as Vaudémont.

Baritone Gerald Finley has a lovely voice, which was surprisingly appealing for Bluebeard. His sound has a good weight and brilliance, but he was grim enough as well.

* Tattling * 
I was surprised to see that the former house manager at San Francisco Opera now is a performance manager for the Met.

Standing room in Family Circle was empty, as were most of the back rows of the house, so very little to report on that front.


Met Opera's 2018-2019 Season

MetoperaSeptember 24 2018- March 28 2018: Samson et Dalila
September 25- November 13 2018: La Bohème
September 26 2018- March 7 2019: Aida
October 4-27 2018: La Fanciulla del West
October 25 2018- April 6 2019: Tosca
October 19- November 10 2018: Marnie
October 30 2018- February 8 2019: Carmen
November 8- December 1 2018: Mefistofele
November 44- December 8 2018: Les Pêcheurs de Perles
November 23- December 15 2018 Il Trittico
December 4 2018- April 27 2019: La Traviata
December 14 2018- January 10 2019: Otello
December 19 2018- January 5 2019: The Magic Flute
December 31 2018- January 26 2019: Adriana Lecouvreur
January 15-31 2019: Pelléas et Mélisande
January 24- February 14 2019: Iolanta and Bluebeard's Castle
January 30- April 18 2019: Don Giovanni
February 7- March 2 2019: La Fille du Régiment
February 12- May 10 2019: Rigoletto
February 22- March 16 2019: Falstaff
March 30- April 20 2019: La Clemenza di Tito
May 3-11 2019: Dialogues des Carmélites
March 9- May 6 2019: Das Rheingold
March 25- May 7 2019: Die Walküre
April 13- May 9 2019: Siegfried
April 27- May 11 2019: Götterdämmerung

The Met announced the 2018-2019 season today, the first for Yannick Nézet-Séguin as Music Director. The new productions are Samson et Dalila, Nico Muhly's Marnie, La Traviata, and Adriana Lecouvreur (which is a co-production with San Francisco Opera, among others). Philippe Jordan conducts the Lepage production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, which stars Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde.

Press Release with Casting | Official Site


Met Opera's 2017-2018 Season

MetoperaSeptember 25- December 16 2017: Norma
September 26- October 28 2017: Les Contes d’Hoffmann
September 27- October 14 2017: Die Zauberflöte
October 2 2017- March 10 2018: La Bohème
October 12 2017- April 5 2018: Turandot
October 26- November 21 2017: The Exterminating Angel
November 2 2017- March 16 2018: Madama Butterfly
November 11- December 2 2017: Thaïs
November 24- December 2 2017: Verdi's Requiem
November 25- December 9 2017 The Magic Flute
December 6 2017- January 19 2018: Le Nozze di Figaro
December 14 2017- January 11 2018: The Merry Widow
December 18 2017- January 6 2018: Hansel and Gretel
December 31 2017- May 12 2018: Tosca
January 8- February 1 2018: Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci
January 16- February 17 2018: L'Elisir d'Amore
January 22- February 15 2018: Il Trovatore
February 5-27 2018: Parsifal
February 19- March 17 2018 Semiramide
March 1-23 2018: Elektra
March 15- April 19 2018: Così fan tutte
March 22- May 10 2018: Lucia di Lammermoor
March 29- April 21 2018: Luisa Miller
April 12- May 11 2018: Cendrillon
April 23- May 12 2018: Roméo et Juliette

The Met announced the 2017-2018 season today. There will be 220 performances of 26 works, including five new productions. The Met premieres include Thomas Adès' The Exterminating Angel and Massenet's Cendrillon.

Online 2017-2018 Brochure | Official Site


Met Opera's 2016-17 Season

Metropolitan_Opera_House_At_Lincoln_Center_2September 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.

Online 2016-2017 Brochure | Official Site


The Met's Lulu

TS00725a* 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.


The Met's 2015-2016 Season

Metropolitan_Opera_House_At_Lincoln_Center_2September 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.

Online 2015-2016 Brochure | Official Site


Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the Met

MacB_0032a* 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.


The Death of Klinghoffer at the Met

Kling_1463a* 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.