Nicola Luisotti, Production: Sonja Frisell
Anna Netrebko, Anita Rachvelishvili, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Quinn Kelsey, Ryan Speedo Green
Soprano Anna Netrebko sings her first Met Aida, with mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili as her formidable rival Amneris. Aleksandrs Antonenko is the warrior Radamès, and Nicola Luisotti takes the podium for the Met’s monumental production.
Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Franco Zeffirelli’s celebrated production of Turandot, which stars Christine Goerke in the title role of the icy Chinese princess who has renounced all men. Roberto Aronica sings Calàf, the suitor who risks his head for her hand and sings the famed aria “Nessun dorma.” Eleonora Buratto is the slave girl Liù, and James Morrisis Calàf’s long-lost father, Timur.
Manon’s story—from innocent country girl to celebrated courtesan to destitute prisoner—is one of the great tragic tales in literature and music. Lisette Oropesa stars as the irresistible title character, the tragic beauty who yearns for the finer things in life, in Laurent Pelly’s revealing production. Michael Fabiano is the besotted Chevalier des Grieux, whose desperate love for Manon proves their undoing. Maurizio Benini conducts Massenet’s sensual score.
Hui He stars as Cio-Cio-San, the devoted geisha who gives everything for the American naval officer Pinkerton, sung by Andrea Carè. Elizabeth DeShong is her devoted companion Suzuki, and Plácido Domingo adds another role to his remarkable repertoire, singing Sharpless for the first time. Pier Giorgio Morandi conducts Anthony Minghella’s beautiful, atmospheric production.
Phelim McDermott, whose productions include the hugely successful Satyagraha by Philip Glass, returns to the Met with a new staging of Glass’s Akhnaten, conducted by Karen Kamensek in her Met debut. Anthony Roth Costanzo sings the title role of the Egyptian pharaoh who attempted to inspire his people to adopt a new religion, abandoning the worship of the old gods for that of a single deity. In her Met debut, J’Nai Bridges sings the role of Nefertiti, Akhnaten’s bride, and Dísella Lárusdóttir is Queen Tye, the pharaoh’s mother. One of the staging’s distinctive visual features is provided by the Gandini Juggling Company, whose movements are perfectly choreographed with the orchestral score. This production of Akhnaten was originally created by LA Opera, Improbable, and English National Opera, where it premiered, winning the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production.
Celebrated director Julie Taymor, who brought The Lion King to Broadway, casts her spell on Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Dancing bears, flying birds, even a giant serpent – all are brought vividly to life through Taymor’s ingenious use of puppetry. This two hour version is sung in English and features an attractive young cast.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts William Kentridge’s new production of Alban Berg’s expressionistic masterpiece Wozzeck, regarded for its intense emotional power and brilliant score as one of the most significant operas of the 20th century. Composed during and in the 5 aftermath of World War I, Berg’s dark exploration of a soldier besieged by the evils of society, is staged by Kentridge in a ramshackle warren of stairs, ramps, discarded furniture, and debris. His own theatrically animated charcoal drawings, along with other projected drawings, maps, and film clips, evoke a nightmarish world of crashed planes, searchlights, ghostly gas masks, and battlefields. Peter Mattei makes his role debut as Wozzeck opposite Elza van den Heever as Marie, the mother of his child. Singing the roles of Wozzeck’s tormentors are Christopher Ventris as the Drum-Major, Gerhard Siegel as the Captain, and Christian Van Horn as the Doctor. Andrew Staples makes his Met debut as Andres. Kentridge, who previously directed Berg’s Lulu and Shostakovich’s The Nose at the Met, unveiled the new production at the 2017 Salzburg Festival, where it received critical acclaim. Kentridge’s production is a co-production of the Met, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Australia, and Salzburg Festival.
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess returns to the Met for the first time since 1990, in a new production directed by James Robinson in his company debut. America’s “folk opera,” as the 1935 creators described it, tells the story of disabled beggar Porgy, sung by Eric Owens, and his love for the drug-addicted Bess, portrayed by Angel Blue. David Robertson conducts a stellar cast that also includes Donovan Singletary as fisherman Jake, Golda Schultz as his wife Clara, Latonia Moore as the bereaved widow Serena, Frederick Ballentine as drug dealer Sportin’ Life, Alfred Walker as the brutal stevedore Crown, and Denyce Graves as Maria, town matriarch and operator of the local cook-shop. Infused with the timeless melodies of the much-loved classics “Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin,” and “My Man’s Gone Now,” the new co-production with English National Opera and Dutch National Opera was hailed as a triumph at its premiere in London earlier this year.
In the Met’s first-ever performances of Agrippina, Handel’s satire of sex and power politics, Sir David McVicar reconceives a production he originally created for the Monnaie in Brussels in 2000, evoking a scandalous world in which the Roman Empire never fell but simply kept going right up to the present. Holding a distorted mirror to contemporary society (as Handel did when he staged this opera), the production presents the corrupt intrigues of the political classes, brought to life by Joyce DiDonato as the power-hungry empress Agrippina, Brenda Rae as the scheming, seductive Poppea, and Kate Lindsey as the feckless teenager Nerone. Iestyn Davies portrays the ambitious officer Ottone, and Matthew Rose is the emperor Claudio, on whose vacated throne Agrippina is determined to install her son. Renowned for his interpretations of the Baroque repertoire, Harry Bicket conducts.
François Girard, whose mystical, blood-drenched vision for Wagner’s Parsifal became one of the Met’s most intensely visceral highlights in recent seasons, turns to another Wagnerian masterpiece, Der Fliegende Holländer, conducted by Valery Gergiev. For the first time at the Met, Sir Bryn Terfel sings the role of the mysterious Dutchman, condemned to roam the seas for eternity, with Anja Kampe as the devoted Senta, whose love can set him free. In a nod to Senta’s obsession with a portrait of the legendary title seafarer, the Met stage is transformed into a colossal oil painting. Franz-Josef Selig portrays Senta’s father Daland, Sergey Skorokhodov takes on the role of the huntsman Erik, David Portillo sings the Steersman, and Mihoko Fujimura is Senta’s nurse Mary. Der Fliegende Holländer is a co-production with L’Opéra de Québec and Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam.
Sir David McVicar’s bold staging of Puccini’s operatic thriller returns to the Live in HD series after its acclaimed broadcast in 2017. This time, star soprano Anna Netrebko is the passionate title diva, opposite Brian Jagde as her lover, the idealistic painter Mario Cavaradossi. Michael Volle is the menacing Baron Scarpia, the evil chief of police. Bertrand de Billy conducts the electrifying score, which features some of Puccini’s most memorable melodies.
Donizetti’s drama, focused on the political and personal rivalry between two queens, returns to the Met with Diana Damrau as the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots, and Jamie Barton as her rival, Queen Elizabeth I. Stephen Costello sings the role of Mary’s lover, Leicester; Andrzej Filończyk is the chancellor Cecil; and Michele Pertusi sings the Earl Talbot. Maurizio Benini conducts Sir David McVicar’s sweeping production.
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