Thursday, February 17, 2011

News, News, News: The Met in 2011-12

Brace yourselves, Gentle Readers, for my own two cents on the Met's Wednesday announcement.  The Met's process of getting all the information out has been much faster than I remember last year's being: in addition to the press release, the interactive brochure is already up on the website, together with a complete listing of next season's operas where patrons and subscribers can buy tickets (not to mention the fact that they live-tweeted the press conference.)  Whew!  Ventures into new productions are both (apparently) relatively tame, and anxiously justified to the audience.  There are some borrowings from ENO--McAnuff's Faust (hmm) and Pelly's Manon (ooh)--and some actually new things.  Lepage's Picket Fence of Symbolism returns for the remainder of the Ring, now with 3D projections.  Discussion of Mr. Lepage's interpretative stance on the drama is conspicuous by its absence.  I am concerned.  David McVicar wants to do an Anna Bolena that explores the psyches of the Tudor court, does scene changes without dropping the curtain, and has Holbein-based costumes.  I am so there!  I have very little sense of what Michael Grandage's Don Giovanni might turn out like.  But it's Don Giovanni, and it has a quite promising cast, so I'll be there too, with a large gang of Mozart-loving friends.

So, as last year, my anarchically-ordered list of Things I Am Most Excited About.  So far this season my predicted and actual high points have been fairly close together (although I left Pelleas out of the prediction altogether.  Oops.)  Let's see how I do this time.
Gounod's Faust. No, I've not been thrilled by the look or the reviews of the production.  However, the season's first run will be conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and will feature Jonas Kaufmann, Angela Gheorghiu, and Rene Pape.  In my experience, Gheorghiu can be a very exciting performer if she decides to put in the effort.  She's not my ideal Marguerite, but it could be an interesting night.  [Update 3/7: Well... in a blaze of mass cancellations, Gheorghiu's out and Poplavskaya's in for the first run. I'm failing in attempts to imagine the Jewel Song, but it will almost certainly be an interesting night.]  About the men I am deliriously excited.  Deliriously, I tell you.  Production video here; McAnuff isn't the best expositor of his own ideas, but there's some interesting stuff.  Oh, and the second run will feature Joseph Calleja, Roberto Alagna, Marina Poplavskaya, and Ferruccio Furlanetto.  Did the Met make a pact??  (Sorry; couldn't help myself.)

Britten, Billy Budd.  My first live Britten opera!!  I don't know enough about it for much better-informed enthusiasm, but, three cheers for expanding horizons.

Janáček, Vec Makropulos.  This will be conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek and feature Karita Mattila in the title role.  Well done, Met; count me in.

Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina will have Kirill Petrenko conducting a fantastic cast.  Again, nicely done.

The Enchanted Island. Baroque music, Shakespearean-style comedy, William Christie conducting, and a whole bunch of my favorite singers in silly costumes?  How can I resist?  I think this will be my excuse for my first New Year's Eve in the city.  Possibly with champagne before, during, and after.

Papa Verdi gets not only Aida and Traviata (to which I will probably go for Stephanie Blythe's Amneris and Natalie Dessay's Violetta, respectively,) but also Ernani, Nabucco, and Macbeth, to which I will go because I have great love for Verdi and am so happy that the Met is showing some Verdi-love.  Also, up-and-comer Angela Meade will be in Ernani (go here for bel canto buff Taminophile's review of her Norma) and Honorary Operatic Uncle (and baritone extraordinaire) Thomas Hampson will have the title role in Macbeth.

Patricia Racette will sing the title roles of Tosca and Madama Butterfly.  I will bawl my eyes out.

Jonas Kaufmann will be giving a recital.  My mother has already agreed to come.  I shall be composing my Lieder wish list.

I seem to have about half the season on here, one way and another.  Even factoring in my happily eclectic tastes, I think that's a good sign.  I am most emphatically not excited about the fact that the curtain time for Mon-Thurs performances has been moved up to 7:30.  The Rush Ticket release has been adjusted back commensurately, but that doesn't make it easier for me to get my work done and get down from the Bronx.  Starting at 8:00 may mean you finish past the octogenarians' bedtimes, but what about the Nachwuchs audiences who are trying to rush from jobs and/or the outer boroughs?  The question of optimal curtain time was on the survey I took for the Met a few months back, so there's reason to suppose the move represents some sort of public consensus.  I'm still far from happy about it, but there's nothing to be done but see how it works out (and hope I'm not given afternoon classes to teach.)


  1. Heh, I was working on a preview post last night and my list is almost exactly the same as yours. :) I have heard good things about Grandage and Marina Rebeka, so I am optimistic regarding the Don. I agree that it all seems a bit tame but the logistics and expense of the Ring are probably keeping everything else modest.

    Regarding Kaufmann recital wish list, I vote for Des Knaben Wunderhorn. It's still Mahlerjahr (the composer so ambitious that one Jahr just isn't enough...)! Ending with a cameo appearance by the entire orchestra for the encore, the first movement of Das Lied von der Erde.

  2. there will be only 11 live in hd performances instead of 12 i think:-(
    but what i am most enthusiastic about : Hvorostovsky appears in two of them:-)))

  3. @Zerbinetta There's a bromide about great minds somewhere in there! Good to hear positive things of Grandage's opera credentials, and of Rebeka, whom I don't know. Fair point about the Ring, which I hadn't thought about in that connection (duh, though.) I am so hoping that Walkuere has developed ideas.

    Nice choice on the Mahler! I want some R. Strauss, and this hypothetical list also has Britten's Michaelangelo sonnets penciled in. Surely somewhere someone will have the nous to get a recording of Das Lied with Kaufmann? Possibly for Mahlerjahr II?

    @asperias Glad to hear you're happy about your share of Hvorostovsky performances. The HD season does seem to have a nice variety.

  4. Yeah, I saw the press release on Wednesday. To my chagrin, I don't think they're broadcasting "Macbeth", which I really want to see Hampson in. But Kaufmann! His Faust aria on the "Romantic Arias" recording is just lush and sprawling and gorgeous, and so I will put up with what promises to be an odd production to see him.

    And Natalie Dessay as Violetta has me clapping like a lunatic with excitement.

  5. You'll forgive me, Lucy, but I didn't realize you were @singingscholar. I was even going to suggest that OperaObsession should be on Twitter because Twittites would love your blog. I enjoy your posts--always well written and enlightening. I am looking forward to some of the lesser done pieces, too.

  6. Kaufmann singing his 3 das Lied songs can be heard on youtube and there are other versions on Marion's unofficial site:

  7. I suspect the 7:30 thing was generated overwhelmingly by people from beyond the outer boroughs who are or would like to be Metro North dependent.

  8. @Christie I am excited for Hampson's Macbeth as well, so you can at least expect a review! I am sort of scared of the intensity of Kaufmann's Faust in advance, which I think is a good thing. I have to say I'm having a little trouble envisioning how Dessay will cope with Violetta, but maybe I'll have a better idea after hearing her this month in Lucia. I'd certainly be rooting for her!

    @Gale Thanks! And no worries. I wasn't really thinking about much cross-publicizing, so it's lamentably unclear.

    @Ryan Thanks for the links. I have a real weakness for that piece. "Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod."

    @S. Ah, how true. I put up friends from NJ on the futon, so was not thinking of that demographic as much.

  9. Hate the 7:30. As is have to be late for AT LEAST 10% of shows. This probaly more than doubles it. Plus, might not get tickets to begin with if greater chance of missing substantial part of opera. Much harder for the Nachwuchs crowd and I'm using the term expensively (like a lot of people under 60). Add in the higher ticket prices and I predict smaller, older audiences.

    Plus, what do you think of the DonG? Not all that excited about some of the cast. (Avoid general lament about decline in Mozart singing in last decade). In any case, hard to avoid the subject after seeing Vienna Figaro last night - I presume you've seen Zerbinetta's typically perspicacious perusal of the proceedings.

  10. A bit of Dessay's Violetta (audio only) from two years ago, judge for yourselves:

    Whatever one thinks of her voice, she's an actress and she'll turn in a committed performance. And as Sieglinde pointed out awhile back, the downside of the Willy Decker production is it limits casting choices to sopranos who can rock the red dress.

  11. @marcillac Oh dear! What a shame. I am HOPING that they'll revise it back next season, but still. This will be a year of unhappy scheduling. I have seen Zerbinetta's Figaro review. Worrisome. I have some reservations/concerns about the cast, but am feeling more positive about Kwiecien's Don after hearing him in Donizetti yesterday: much more warm and agile than I had previously heard from him.

    @S. I do find Dessay a very intelligent and moving performer, so I'm far from predicting a train wreck. I'm just worried... thinking perhaps the baroque repertoire she's recorded recently might be kinder to her voice. There is the red dress issue.

  12. If you want the Makropulos case to be broadcast next season in HD, please join this facebook petition!

  13. here you can sign the petition for including The Makropulos Case into the Live in HD transmissions,next season.


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