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.
The Metropolitan Opera
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.
The 2013 winners of the Metropolitan Opera (pictured left, photograph by Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera) National Council Auditions are sopranos Sydney Mancasola and Rebecca Pedersen; tenor Michael Brandenburg; bass-baritones Brandon Cedel, Musa Ngqungwana, and Thomas Richards.
The ten finalists of the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are bass Matthew Anchel (Eastern Region; New York, NY); tenor Michael Brandenburg (Central Region; Austin, IN); bass-baritone Brandon Cedel (Middle Atlantic Region; Hershey, PA); soprano Tracy Cox (Western Region; Dallas, TX); soprano Sydney Mancasola (New England Region; Redding, CA); bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana (Middle Atlantic Region; Port Elizabeth, South Africa); bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba (Upper Midwest Region; Tempe, AZ); soprano Rebecca Pedersen (Rocky Mountain Region; Bountiful, UT); bass-baritone Thomas Richards (Central Region; Burnsville, MN); and baritone Efraín Solís (Western Region; Santa Ana, CA). They perform next Sunday, March 10 at 3pm with the Met Orchestra conducted by Marco Armiliato.
September 23- December 12 2013: Eugene Onegin
September 24 2013- May 8 2014 : Così fan tutte
September 28- October 26 2013: The Nose
September 30- November 1 2013: Norma
October 11-31 2013: A Midsummer Night's Dream
October 21- November 14 2013: Two Boys
October 29- December 28 2013: Tosca
November 7-26 2013: Die Frau Ohne Schatten
November 11- December 7 2013: Rigoletto
November 22- December 13 2013: Der Rosenkavalier
December 6 2013- January 11 2014: Falstaff
December 16 2013- January 4 2014: The Magic Flute
December 31 2013- February 22 2014: Die Fledermaus
January 9- February 1 2014: L'elisir d'Amore
January 14- April 18 2014: La Bohème
January 16- May 9 2014: Madama Butterfly
January 23- February 15 2014: Rusalka
February 6- March 8 2014: Prince Igor
February 18- March 15 2014: Werther
February 26- March 20 2014: The Enchanted Island
March 6-22 2014: Wozzeck
March 14- April 1 2014: La Sonnambula
March 24- April 12 2014: Andrea Chénier
April 3-24 2014: Arabella
April 17- May 10 2014: I Puritani
April 21- May 10 2014: La Cenerentola
The Met announced the 2013-2014 season today. The 6 new productions are Eugene Onegin, Nico Muhly's Two Boys, Falstaff, Die Fledermaus, Prince Igor, and Werther.
* Notes *
François Girard's production of Parsifal opened at the Metropolitan Opera on Friday. The contemporary set features stark imagery. The red lake that dominates the second act (pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) is particularly striking. The angular choreography fits nicely with the staging and the clean costuming. The video is difficult to view in Family Circle, but seems benign and includes images of clouds, aurora borealis, and water. At times, the rippling effects were a bit overblown. The lighting is pleasing. The last scene involves Parsifal putting the Holy Spear in the Grail held by Kundry, a nod to the pagan fertility rituals that may have given rise to the Arthurian romances on which this work is based. For some reason this struck me as clumsy compared to the sleek modernity of Act II.
Conducted by Daniele Gatti, the orchestra played moderately, sounding neither austere nor sprightly. The brass was clear. The chorus was as impressive as ever: perfectly synchronized, strong, and full. Katarina Dalayman was not an alluring Kundry, but she did seem more than half-mad. Evgeny Nikitin was a convincing Klingsor. Peter Mattei was likewise believable as Amfortas, and his voice is immediately appealing. René Pape shone as Gurnemanz. His voice is warm and rich, and he sounds imposing. Jonas Kaufmann did well with the title role, though I find his voice less readily likeable than others, perhaps because of his nasality. Kaufmann was riveting in Act II Scene 2. He has a keen understanding of what he is singing and can convey this to the audience.
* Tattling *
Every sort of bad behavior was on display for the prima. Watch alarms sounded, mobile phones rang, photographs were taken, some talked, others snored, and there was applause after the first act. During the performance of Act I, someone in Family Circle demanded, at full volume, that he not be touched again.
According to a press release issued today, Bryan Hymel (pictured left, photograph by Dario Acosta) will sing the role of Aeneas in the remaining performances of the Met's Les Troyans this season, replacing Marcello Giordani, who has withdrawn the role from his repertoire. Giordani will return to the Met for Francesca da Rimini in March 2013.
* Notes *
The Michael Grandage production of Don Giovanni (Act II pictured left, photograph by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera) is currently having a first revival at the Metropolitan Opera. The performance last Saturday was good, but not outstanding. Edward Gardner conducted a lively and speedy orchestra. Raymond Aceto could have sounded more commanding as the Commendatore. Ekaterina Siurina's voice is creamy and sweet, and seemed perfectly fine for Zerlina. Emma Bell's Donna Elvira was slightly unhinged, but never out of control. Erwin Schrott was an amusingly silly Leporello.
Charles Castronovo (Don Ottavio) has a dark warmth to his voice, but he struggled with some of the high notes. Susanna Phillips was promising as Donna Anna, her voice is strong, but has a nice bell-like quality. Ildar Abdrazakov, on the other hand, lacked brightness in "Fin ch'han dal vino." It seemed like the role was just a bit high for Abdrazakov, but he projected well for "Deh vieni alla finestra."
The production dates from last year, yet was not particularly fresh or inventive. The large set is monolithic and rumbles when moved. The handling of Don Giovanni's descent is certainly the most exciting visual moment, as it uses real fire.
* Tattling *
At least one cellular phone was heard in the Family Circle during Act I.