5 unmissable operas
Sometimes I tell myself my operatic tastes are really eclectic, and then a season like this has my penchant for German rep and/or wild and wonderful orchestration galloping to the fore.
Tristan und Isolde, Wagner. TRIIIIISTAN. Ahem. I get a little teary just thinking about this. The first time Simon Rattle came to conduct an opera at the Met, I had to sit down for 10 minutes outside just to pull myself together. I love Tristan und Isolde with a great love. We get a new production that sounds as though it's both creative and attentive to the text (an interview with Peter Gelb hinted at explorations of the Morold backstory, inter alia. The promotional image looks Konwitschny-influenced; we shall see.) And as if our cup wasn't already running over, we get Stuart Skelton and Nina Stemme as the lovers, and Rene Pape as Marke.
Salome, Richard Strauss. I've never seen this in a full production (though Nina Stemme's fabulous concert Salome is a cherished memory.) If I were still in NYC, I'd try to hear both Zeljko Lucic and Greer Grimsley as Jochanaan.
Fidelio. My beloved Fidelio, finally on the Met stage again, and I'm not there to see it! I grumble in spirit. If I'm still in the northeastern US, though, I shall (hopefully) be there. I'm both excited and surprised by the casting of Klaus Florian Vogt as Florestan. I didn't anticipate hearing him on this side of the Atlantic. He's reportedly an intelligent user of acoustics; otherwise, I'd be a bit concerned about the size of the house.
L'amour de Loin, Saariaho. Saariaho at the Met! As the press release itself says, finally! And the cast/conductor combination is likewise exciting. If you are wondering how excited you might be about this contemporary opera based on medieval poetry, please read this.
Guillaume Tell, Rossini. Rossini in my top 5; no one faint! I heard two-thirds of these lead singers in this opera in Munich, and came away euphoric. Also, I really love Gerald Finley; his gorgeous musicianship and thoughtful characterization are equally consistent, in my experience.
5 potentially-great performances
Obviously, multiple singers in the above-listed operas could be counted here. Those I'm listing are the performances which, themselves alone, would be sufficient reason for taking me to the Met if I still lived only a subway ride away (or if I had a more than fledgling-academic income.)
Anna Netrebko as Tatiana. This needs no explanation, really. Whether she's called a diva or a stage animal, the language of the super- or extra-human is applied to Netrebko with increasing frequency and awe. And this shows her in the role.
Latonia Moore as Aida. Moore made her Met debut as a late substitute Aida, to wild acclaim. Now, she gets top billing, and audiences get the chance to book ahead for her.
Karita Mattila as Kostelnicka. Karita Mattila! I love her take-no-prisoners approach to stagecraft at least as much as I love her voice. I've climbed snow drifts to hear her, and I'd do it again.
Jamie Barton as Jezibaba. This should be exciting! I've only heard Barton in concert; this needs to change. Also, Rusalka is gorgeous.
Diana Damrau and Javier Camarena in I Puritani. Is a double-bill breaking the rules of this section? Maybe, but I don't care. I adore Diana Damrau unreservedly, and hear nothing but rapturous praise for Camarena's voice. Also, my sister wants to see this one, despite not really being an opera person. I might have a nascent bel canto devotee on my hands.
There's a new production of Der Rosenkavalier. "...underscoring the opera’s subtext of class and conflict against a rich backdrop of gilt and red damask" is exactly the kind of blurb that makes me gloomily nervous about new Met productions, but it's Robert Carsen, whose Onegin I really like. Also, James Levine (health permitting) will be conducting, which should make it unmissable. Also also, Fleming is the Marschallin. I cannot get excited about Garanca in trouser roles, and I do not know why. Help me, fellow mezzo-lovers.